Innovation Branding Series: Episode 1 – A Unique Idea is not Enough – Branding makes the Difference

Today we start a new series done in collaboration with Youri Sawerschel, Branding Expert and Founder of Creative Supply. Over the next few weeks Youri will talk to you about innovation from the branding perspective. A lot of companies, especially start-ups are pushing a new product ignoring the importance of branding. In this episode, Youri explains why a unique idea is not enough and that branding makes the difference.


Today we’re going to speak about innovation from a branding perspective.

Corporations and startups are working on innovations with the hope of launching the next big thing, but you know the risk of failure is around 70 to 80 percent for new product and services? There are many reasons for this: Poor timing, lack of money, people problem etc. But even if you have the perfect financing, team and product it doesn’t mean your product will succeed. Why? Because the market is crowded. You are not the only one trying to get people’s attention.  That’s why branding is essential.

But too often innovators are discounting branding as too fluffy, not serious enough in comparison to the real work done in the lab, on the product and they trust that the unique idea will be sufficient. But think about it for a second. Apple did not invent the smart phone. Tesla didn’t invent the electric car and WeWork did not invent co-working.

So it’s not just about the product. The quality of the product obviously plays role. You won’t go far with a great branding and a bad product, but opposite is also true you won’t go far with a great product and bad branding.  So what can branding do? Essentially it’s about giving context to a product or service. In most cases people are not buying just your product they are buying the idea behind your products.

So the first step is to define your frame of reference. This means this means deciding in which category you want to position your product. We’re not just talking about it from a product point of view.

Let me give you an example that everybody understands: the Apple watch. Technically the Apple watch belongs to the category of “consumer electronics” but Apple, unlike its competitors understood that the watch is before all an aspirational product. They knew that they had to position it as a high end fashion accessory in order to be successful. That’s why Apple decided not to use the iPhone like iPhone or iPad there is no I watch so it’s not associated with the rest of the product line. When Apple launched the other watch they booked 12 pages of advertising in Vogue magazine with amazing pictures presenting the watch like a luxurious product, a jewel. They also did a partnership with Hermes, the French brand, to create exclusive leather bands. A few years, later Apple is dominating the SmartWatch market but have you noticed that Apple itself has never used the SmartWatch. It’s just the Apple watch.

In our next video we’ll speak about innovation and brand extension.

Youri Sawerschel, Founder of Creative Supply