There’s no doubting that brand and innovation are interdependent. Brands give innovation meaning whereas innovation can strengthen brand equity.
Brand and Innovation under-researched
According to the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, a lot of research has been done in the fields of brand management and innovation management separately, but the relationship between brand and innovation is under researched. It states that little integration of these two management priorities with each other has appeared.
Key questions which require addressing include:
- How should a brand be managed as a growth platform for innovation?
- What are successful branding strategies for different forms of innovation?
- Are there any downsides of innovation for brand equity?
- How does brand position influence an organisation’s innovation activities?
Branding and Innovation Strategy in a Down Turn
During market down turns, companies will invariably look to reduce spending on all activities deemed to be discretionary. In a down turn, tension between innovation and branding tends to heighten as companies wrestle with investment decisions in brand and innovation.
Difficult decisions imposed on managers in down turns to invest in brand and/or innovation can be tricky. This is largely because the goals of innovation and branding can seem to be contradictory and both demand resources.
Balancing the need for brand focus with the need for innovation is at the heart of the dilemma.
Successful companies like Apple, Microsoft and Virgin understand the need to invest in the brand in challenging markets whilst being guided by an innovation strategy, not a brand strategy. Introducing new products or services and penetrating new markets has brand strategy implications. The important thing to remember that in volatile markets the key to making branding and innovation work together is to put innovation first, then use brand strategy to build equity.