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Innovation only works if customers want it 

I was reading through David Penny’s PowerPoint slides on manufacturing, from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. Business failures are not down to a lack of , according to one of his charts, but that growth and customer focus were low.
   It’s something I believe can fix. When I talk about branding, I usually talk about it in the realm I understand—as a means to achieve greater performance, rather than a quick fix of slapping on a logo.
   The branding model I follow takes into account the model put forward by Narver and Slater, as I have mentioned before. They believe that commitment, faciliative management and interdepartmental connectedness are factors, and these are important in -setting and . Research helps an organization find its place and refine its brand attitude, something that summarizes what it stands for. It’s easier to remember that than a , which our research shows does not really help the bottom line.
   Vision and research account for most of the work in creating an effective . That research must, necessarily, take into account and their tastes. That also includes being open enough to detect where the high-growth areas might be.
   By having a brand focus, a company does its foundation work more effectively.
   One problem is getting sufficient research. Small- and medium-sized enterprises might think that they do not have enough money to do that. But, with the internet, they can probably access the right research a lot more quickly.
   Posting on blogs, using networking groups (many of them free, such as LinkedIn) and plain old conversing on email helps access international . Industry groups, where possible, need to help rally these players and get them talking to one another. Through that, can be shared and unions formed, especially among smaller players.
   Restructuring businesses so that the owner can have access to the intelligence on an ongoing basis, such as getting him or her to view the feedback form, helps a company stay flexible and understand consumer demands.
   However, underpinning all this must be a sense of , as the organization’s competences can be duplicated.
   Anyone can make a fizzy brown soft drink but only , and have been able to make any inroads into the cola market.
   Each company already has some idea of its brand, or at least its values. Small businesses need to look at theirs, and use this additional research to refine their brands. At least then, the brand and the brand attitude can be right. The research stage will allow them to have a clear idea of demands. Then, that innovative energy can be put into meeting a , rather than being a heroic failure.

Del.icio.us tags: brand branding market research market customer consumer innovation small businesses
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Different is not enough if you aren't at the same time relevant. And relevance is defined by the customer.

Steven King says he writes a book with two perspectives; one with the door shut (which I equate to creative vision and difference) and the other with the door open (which I equate to listening to the market and the customer).

Really like the title to this post Jack - thanks for uncorking some more insight!  
Good opening point, Mike, thank you. And I love the King analogy. He is right, and his record shows it.  
An intriguing post -- thanks. You are really saying that a company has to ride the bus and push the bus at the same time.... Not always an easy duo --but it works well to help people move forward when it happens. Your ideas motivated me to think more about how that can be.  
Yes, essentially that is what I mean, and I like your analogy, Ellen. Vision-setting is a chicken-and-egg scenario: you need one to springboard the ideas from, but it can’t be so formed that the research (or any subsequent) stage becomes limited.  
nice title. and really informative post. branding really gives life to the product. it either makes or breaks a product :)  
You are very right, Tin-tin. If products were brandless, then we would have a hard time finding our favourite; and without brands, they could only compete on price.  
Great post. Branding is important, but to support the brand, companies need to use innovation. Innovation is only worthwhile if it centers around the customer and meeting their needs and desires. Innovation for the sake of technological advancement is not always a good thing.  
Well said, Atul: there is a lot to be said for the market orientation as that is what ultimately affects the culture of the organization for there to be success among customers.  
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