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Critical element in any strategy is its translation into reality

The only true measure of success is in its execution. And one of the key determinants of successful strategy implementation is organisational alignment.

Have you ever watched the rowing eights event? Now, think about the performance of the top teams – what do you see? you will see nine people (including the coxswain) working together in synchrony to achieve their primary goal of crossing the finish line first.

Successful rowing eights operate as a unit

To achieve success, the rowers must stroke at the same pace with the blades of every oar pulling at the same depth in the water. They all know the overall game plan for success and they are ready to respond to the orders of the coxswain (who’s job it is to quarterback the execution of the race strategy and communicate the adjustments that keep the boat on course in changing wind and water conditions) as individuals and as a cohesive unit.

Each member of the team knows what their job is during the race and that they can rely on their coaching, training, boat, and equipment, and the skills, technique, and commitment of their teammates while the race is on. When team alignment and cohesion is off, the boat strays off course, essentially wasting time, energy, and the resources that were invested in trying to achieve the goal of winning the race.
 

Without alignment, the best strategic plan will never be fully achieved

It’s very much the same for an organisation. Without alignment, the best strategic plan will never be fully achieved because organisational alignment is the glue that makes strategy execution excellence happen. An aligned organisation gets things done faster, with less effort, and with better results, and is more agile and responsive to changing business conditions. Ultimately, a high level of organisational alignment is essential for achieving increasingly better business performance results now and in the future! That’s why organisational alignment is so important for achieving better performance results.

How to cultivate organisational alignment?

1. Have a purpose beyond profit
2. Create a shared vision and a common direction
3. Visualise the journey
4. Envolve the whole organization
5. Do something together
6. Share numbers
7. Celebrate milestones
8. Measure early and often

 
Let's face it,  great corporate culture doesn't just happen, you need to make it happen!
 
source meliorate
businessperformancestrategy
The term “corporate culture” once brought to mind strict dress codes and cut-throat coworker competition, but  company culture is rapidly emerging as essential to building a brand, attracting customers, and winning the burgeoning war for talent.
Recognizing the growing role of company culture in attracting and retaining talent, company review and salary comparison site Glassdoor compiled this list of the Top 25 Companies For Culture And Values.

brandcell_150511_organizational_structure_top_culture_all.jpg

 
​The companies that fared the best in this evaluation are those with a clear mission statement and stated values that are congruent internally and externally. Employees frequently take note of how the company deals with users, clients, and external constituents, as well as how they behave “within the walls” of the company.

While the list is studded with familiar tech names like Google, Riverbed, and Citrix, a broad array of companies are represented, including grocers Wegmans and H-E-B, retailers Nike and REI, Southwest Airlines, and the Walt Disney Company.

The appeal of a positive company culture is so strong it’s become a kind of de facto compensation. Companies that once used hefty salary packages to attract the best and brightest no longer have the same resources as they may have pre-recession, so non-cash benefits like flexibility and clear company values have become a way to attract candidates.

brandcell_150511_organizational_structure_top_culture_all_02-(1).jpg
View the complete list here 

source forbes.com
rankingsglobal trendscompany culturebusinessengagementstrategy

by Shobha Ponnappa

Brand strategy trends for 2015 are both easy and difficult to predict. Going by what we’ve seen through 2014, a lot of last year’s trends are hardening. But still, when experts aim to predict for the coming year, they are cautious. They know we’re dealing with two notoriously fickle factors: technology and the social media.  Three well-known brand strategy specialist authors of articles in Forbes.com, Huffington Post and SmartCompany, as well as the trend forecasts of the branding agency Landor weigh in on their predictions.

From Forbes.com’s article titled “11 Marketing Trends To Watch For In 2015” by Avi Dan:

Transparency will become the most important tool of marketing.

Consumers are going to continue to exert power and influence. The idea of radical transparency is something that few brands are taking advantage of now, and most brands fight it. Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.

CMOs will become Chief Simplifier Officers.

Most companies create complexity, especially even as the landscape itself is turning more complex. They’ve arranged themselves in endless new vertical silos, by geography, product, or function that hamper them when it comes to working more closely and with the free flow of ideas. To optimize consumer and customer engagements, CMOs will begin to put silo busting on top of their agenda and begin to think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition, integrating messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups.

We will witness the emergence of the marketing technologists.

Too many companies think in terms of digital marketing. Instead, they should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The best marketer in a digital world would be the marketing technologists, people with heavy digital DNA and technology acumen. They will be integrated seamlessly with the marketing groups and will play an important role in how marketing strategies are developed and applied.

The winners will be adept at agility marketing.

Social media produced a different, more elusive consumer with short-term thinking. Marketers are now chasing their daily meanderings in “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, click-through rates, and ever more immediate but pointless metrics. The best marketers will have ever more consumer data, capable of faster adaption, shorter lead times, and always-on, real-time marketing. Instead of the next month or next quarter the focal point for the winners becomes the next hour.

From the branding specialists Landor, and their article titled “Landor releases 2015 brand trends:

The individual, not the masses, becomes the brand target.

Thanks to epic advances in capturing consumer data and breakthrough manufacturing techniques that make smaller production runs more economical, businesses will create specialized offers and subbrands to meet consumers’ desires for personalized products. For example, Coca-Cola Israel recently printed 2 million individually designed labels to prove its consumers are one of a kind. And, Holiday Inn is starting to shift its brand strategy toward more customized experiences that meet individual needs—from business travelers and families to young couples and adventurous singles.

3-D goes beyond movies.

The advent of 3-D printing technology enables brands to forgo uniform packaging in favor of creating custom designs to connect with consumers and stand out on store shelves. Captain Morgan 1671 special-edition blend took this approach and exceeded sales expectations with a distinctive pirate-shaped and weathered glass jug.

The name game, short and simple.

With more noise in the digital marketplace and less time than ever to capture consumers’ attention, brands will continue to streamline the path to sales and that includes a shift back to basic, clear, relevant naming solutions. More monikers will have universal, easy-to-grasp concepts (think Uber and Square) that also make good URLs. Apple, who dropped its iconic “i” naming convention, and Google have already transitioned to this elementary approach, putting greatest importance on their recognizable master brands by placing them first, followed by simple product descriptors: Apple Watch, Apple TV, Apple Pay; Google Glass, Google Wallet, Google Play.

Brands as your best friends.

Good-bye slogans and catchphrases. Today you can’t sell without a story—and it better be authentic. Whether it’s websites, tweets, or texts, brands will use straightforward dialogue infused with honesty and emotion. We’re talking plain, straightforward honesty in communications — like Zipcar who has zoomed past the rental car competition with an approachable voice that speaks like your best bud.

From the Huffington Post’s “Advertising and Tech Trends for 2015” by Jeremy Wilson:

Rise of the Sensors.

You name it. Next year someone will put a sensor in it. They have been slowly making their way into communications and services over the last two years – initially driven via Android but accelerated by Apple adding it’s iBeacons to the game. We are starting to see an infrastructure rollout that will drive broader awareness and use via mobile. These beacons act as triggers that allow for smarter interaction with an environment – for instance, if I walk into a store a beacon will know who I am and what department I’m in, sending me a notification for an in store promotion based on my past shopping history. There are multiple major sports stadiums across the US currently installing networks of beacons so we can expect some cool executions, expect to see beacons used a lot in interactive OOH and sensors attached to athletes for live sports analytics.

Health Tech & Wearables Go Mainstream. 

Sure, everyone has had activity trackers for years – but with open platforms bringing all that data together and consumers starting to share it with their doctors – get ready for an explosion in this space. This data will be leveraged to consistently add real value in our lives. Smart watches will start to appear on wrists throughout the year, brands and apps will rush to shrink their content into what is being known as ‘glanceables’ – small snackable content formats that can be viewed on a watch or a Google Now card. My favorite quote on the Apple Watch is from Aza Raskin, Head of Innovation at Jawbone: “In a decade, only the affluent will be able to afford to be disconnected. The iWatch et al will start sexy and end as a shackle.” Look for the unplug movement to clash with the emergence of smartwatches.

Selfies Get Serious.

Next year it’s time to up your selfie game – 2015 is when the selfie really gets tech. Hyperlapse, Drone shots, and connected devices that can trigger the camera on your phone are becoming mainstream and offer whole range of new perspectives for us to present ourselves to the world. Can Google Glass stay in the game without a selfie strategy?

More Ambitious Native & Branded Content.

I have to give ‘Native’ the award for the most overused buzzword of this year. Look for many new Native ad formats to emerge as it continues its charge in 2015, but who will it go too far? Some people will start to call brands out on it as the lines between editorial content and advertising become too blurred. This year we have seen quality TV shows funded entirely by brands, my bet is that in 2015 we’ll see a brand fully fund a scripted feature film. There is already loads of product placement but I’m talking the primary production backer. Fueled by the ability to debut straight to streaming distribution and inspired by Netflix’s plans to debut their own movies directly on their platform, I can see some brands making a smart impact within film.

And finally, from the SmartCompany’s story by Jackie Crossman titled “Marketing trends that will rock 2015”:

Integrity.

David Chenu, general manager of marketing services at Horticulture Australia, believes the next year or two is not about technology change – although he says that will still occur, even faster than currently – but will be more about style, substance and the essence of what is communicated. “Consumers relish integrity and purity of communication,” Chenu says. “The integrity and honesty of brand communication will be the answer to resonate through continuing, confusing clutter.” Jono McCauley, director of creative strategy at Elevencom, is in total agreement.
“In 2015, brands that ‘sell’ less and ‘do’ more will be the ones that pull ahead of the pack,” McCauley says.
“Consumer-controlled media filters out the sellers and takes notice of the doers. Doers are always innovating and solving real consumer problems in fresh and interesting ways. If the doing is clever enough, it sells itself.”
McCauley warns marketers should never underestimate their customers. “Living this strategy involves being totally transparent and surprisingly honest.”

Consumer power.

The customer as an evolving, increasingly savvy and “highly empowered individual” is a theme reiterated by Gunjan Allen, marketing development manager at Airtrain. “Today’s consumer has access to a wealth of information from numerous channels and that makes them more connected, but also more fragmented,” Allen says. “A brand needs to connect in that consumer’s world to be taken notice of. Brands will be welcomed into their consumer’s life if they’re on the same page and share the same thoughts, needs and ideals.” Lynne Ziehlke, the market development manager at the Australian Macadamia Society, is also nuts about the customer. “It’s a case of back to the future with the customer at front and centre as the hero,” she says. “Social media has made everything so transparent that the best thing you can do is have a great product and credible narrative.”

Influencers.

Byrnes predicts a continued increase in the power of digital influencers. “Digital Influencers will become a more widely used and recognised resource for digital marketers. With influencers acting as an impetus to their audience, brands and marketers will learn to turn their efforts to specific individuals to connect with a new audience of potential buyers rather than their target market as a whole.”

Visual storytelling.

Looking ahead, Gunjan Allen believes visual storytelling will take the concept of ‘storytelling’ to a whole new level. “Technologies like Blippar will further enhance customer-brand interaction, creating videos and experiences to help achieve the cut-through that brands need,” she says.
“The clever marketers are also realising that media is now consumed on the go and the mobility of devices now allows brands to reach their consumers at the right time and at the right place – a trend that will continue to grow in 2015 and beyond".

original article via shobhaponnappa.com

innovationbranding strategydigital strategyrankingsconsumer brandstipsconsumer trendsglobal trends

by David Meer, Edward C. Landry, and Samrat Sharma

A new approach can help CPG companies introduce products with the right features, price, and packaging. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have a big problem: They have almost no idea which of their new products will end up being popular with consumers. Despite big data, despite a decade of heavy investment in innovation, despite chief innovation officers and efficient R&D, failure rates for new products have hovered at 60 percent for years. Two-thirds of new product concepts don’t even launch. One reason is that the retail environment has become far more complex. E-commerce continues to upend long-established business models, and consumers are shopping less at supermarkets and hypermarkets and more in convenience stores, at discounters, and online.

What’s more, although CPG companies are extremely good at the early stages of innovation—identifying promising areas of growth and creating new product ideas in those areas—and at the later stages of testing concepts and commercializing them, there’s a conspicuous hole in the middle of the process. They don’t have a clear grasp of which combinations of features, packaging, price, and even labeling will persuade consumers to make a purchase. They’re like triathletes who are world-class at swimming and running, but terrible at cycling.

There’s a way to fill that hole, but it won’t be easy.

Based on our experience, we think it will require progress in three key (and intertwined) areas. None of the three will work without the other two, and all will compel CPG executives to rethink aspects of their traditional business model.

First, companies need to adopt dynamic modeling to gauge various combinations of features. When companies test a product concept today, they’re limited by the relative primitiveness of the tools available to them, such as consumer concept testing and market structure analysis. Testing a preset combination of options (for example, the cinnamon-flavored cookies, in six-ounce individual packages, at 79 cents per pack) produces a basic thumbs-up or thumbs-down assessment as to whether the product will be financially viable. However, the results apply only to that combination. If you change one element, the test results become much less useful. Worse, the testing is expensive and time-consuming, with turnaround times that are measured in months, which makes testing every single combination impossible.

Ideally, companies should be able to test various combinations more dynamically, adjusting the flavor profile, pack size, price, labeling, distribution channel, and any other aspect of the value proposition—even the brand name. Developing a simulation model that can evaluate a wide range of scenarios by altering the various elements and seeing how each factor affects the outcome while the product is still in the development stage is an effective way of doing so.

How much more would consumers pay for low-calorie cinnamon cookies? Would they prefer eight-ounce packs? And should the cookies be sold at a convenience store, a big-box retailer, a warehouse store, or online (or all of the above)? The right model would break such product propositions into their component parts, reassemble them in novel ways, and estimate demand for the new combinations. This in turn would require detailed data on which features consumers value, how much they’re willing to pay for those features, and where they’re willing to make trade-offs.

In addition, simulation models need to deliver more actionable results. Rather than providing just a basic yes or no, the results must break down revenue, volume, and margin contribution. If a new product is going to take market share from another player, the model should let the company know where that share will be coming from, at what price, and through which channels. Importantly, the model should also indicate how much volume is incremental and how much is simply cannibalizing the company’s other offerings in the same category.

Although similar models are already being used in industries such as financial services and technology, CPG companies have been slow to embrace the new analytics. In fact, the reverse has happened: In response to cost pressures, CPG companies have systematically disinvested in analytics and insights teams. The limited resources CPG companies seem to have are being spent in areas such as social media and mobile marketing. But firms that are serious about innovation have to start the process by investing in foundational tools. And they will likely find that these investments pay for themselves over time.

If firms are serious about innovation, they have to start by investing in foundational tools.

Second, companies have to develop priorities based on their capabilities. Companies don’t start product development with a blank sheet of paper. They have critical advantages in areas where they focus their investments and attention; other areas can be either outsourced or set aside. Once a company has clear insights about which features consumers value, and how much they value those features, the next step is to figure out which of those insights it can actually implement, based on its capabilities and resources.

For example, some companies are good at developing new flavor profiles, and can easily launch spin-off products (adding toffee to the cinnamon cookies, for instance). Others are good at packaging innovations or cost reductions that lower prices. Still others have strong distribution capabilities, and can get products into new store formats quickly. Whatever its strengths, a company should prioritize its innovation ideas accordingly.

Concurrently, this step provides companies with valuable insight into which areas they should concentrate on developing next. Coming up with ideas that are hard to implement because of a lack of relevant capabilities should influence a firm’s future investment priorities, enabling it to build new capabilities that would ensure competitive advantage in the future.

Finally, companies need to make organizational shifts to put these insights into action. CPG companies need to reorient their org charts so that the innovation function collaborates more directly with marketing, sales, and the supply chain during product development. Many companies think that these four functions collaborate already. But the truth is that they work from different perspectives, with varying definitions of success and incentives, and at different stages in a product’s development. Innovation wants to get new products from the drawing board to market, while marketing is busy trying to get consumers to open their wallets. Sales focuses on persuading retailers to give new products shelf space, which in turn can help stimulate consumer demand. And the goal of the supply chain is to maximize efficiency and minimize process proliferation. The objectives overlap, but they’re not identical. As a result, products in development can travel far down the tracks before problems surface.

CPG companies would do better to use the insights they generate in the first step (through dynamic modeling) and the priorities they establish in the second (understanding their capabilities) to create a common set of facts and objectives that all four functions can agree on.

In some cases, this will mean restructuring lines of authority, incentives, and other aspects of the organization. A dramatic step? Yes. But it is necessary if companies are to make sure that these critical functions are working together.

Some leading CPG companies have started to implement this new approach to innovation. For example, one packaged-food company had spent 18 months working on a preservative-free version of a product. One of its competitors had already introduced a similar product, and the company feared market share losses. But with the official launch date only months away, the company learned that two major grocery chains had decided they would not carry its new product, in part because the competitor’s preservative-free version didn’t appeal to their customers. Firm leaders scrapped the product, treating their investments as a sunk cost.

To avoid repeating that mistake, the company shifted away from trying to innovate by following the competition, and toward an approach based on a richer understanding of consumers’ desires.

It started by running a dynamic analysis of several product options. It found that although “preservative-free” wasn’t a sufficiently attractive incentive for consumers to open their wallets, “natural” (meaning no artificial ingredients) would be. R&D had originally said the natural product would take two years to develop, but a deeper look at the company’s capabilities and priorities revealed that the team could actually complete the product’s development in just six months.

In fact, a discussion between the R&D team members and their counterparts in sales and marketing revealed that R&D had been receiving so many new product ideas that it used “two years” as the default timing for all of them. The company was able to identify other innovations with clear potential—including a superpremium line and new packaging—that could be brought to market quickly. In the aggregate, these innovations enabled the company to grow sales at a faster rate than the competition and to improve profitability in the category for the first time in three years.

If this example shows anything, it’s that CPG companies can’t afford to throw ideas at the wall and hope one of them will stick, even if they are trying to imitate a competitor. Chances are, your rivals don’t have any more insight into what consumers want than you do. This new approach should go a long way toward fixing that.

original article via strategy-business

branding strategybusiness strategyconsumer brandsretailconsumer trends
By Carole Ayoub, Brandcell

To be successful a brand needs to stand out from its competitors by promising relevant yet distinctly different benefits to its target market. It also needs to convey these benefits in everything from its brand name and identity to packaging and product performance.

By carefully selecting these benefits the brand not only sets itself apart as the preferred provider but also as the only viable solution for its customers’ needs.

In other words, consumers are convinced this brand alone delivers what they’re seeking and they won’t accept substitutes even if it is not available. It is through this differentiation strategy that the brand becomes, in the minds of consumers, unique.

Take a look at the retail landscape today, though, and you’ll find that more brands than ever before are vying for attention, and, the degree of differentiation between one product and another has been diminished. In such a cluttered marketplace, a brand needs to work even harder to stand out, and having a distinctive name becomes more important than ever to asserting a brand’s status as in a class of its own.

In Lebanon, where a recent scandal sent shockwaves through the population, a number of brands may have learned an additional lesson about the pitfalls of not having a distinctive name. When a list of food brands that had been found to have contravened health regulations was released by the Health Minister, the public reacted with horror as the realization dawned on them that the food they had been buying and consuming for years from trusted names had been contaminated or past its sell-by date.

This scandal also triggered some reactions from a cluster of similar brand names that had initially adopted what is known as the “me-too strategy”. It’s a strategy that can seem smart to start-ups or emerging companies, who adopt the rationale that customers may be easily duped into thinking they are buying the products of the larger, more successful brand; however, these newer brands lack the potential for progressive branding as no two brands can own the same concept in the consumer’s mind.

Contrary to popular thought, the imitator’s fate is sealed by the similar sound of their name, which casts them into a default position. While the promoters themselves may believe that their brand is a challenger to the market leader, the consumers merely perceive it as an imitator.

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When these brands adopted the “me-too strategy”, their eyes were fixed on the quick wins and easy gains but overlooked the risks involved with tying their destiny to that of the established brand. Just like a marriage is for better or worse, so these imitator brands found themselves in the wake of the food scandal having to communicate and explain to their customers that despite the similar name their brand was in fact different to the other brands that stood accused. Yet, for all their proclamations of being safer and cleaner, consumers remained blurred and confused and this undoubtedly impacted their behavior and perception of those brands.

For these brands such a public debacle could or should provide a branding lesson and be the awakening point for the initiation of a proper rebranding and re-positioning exercise to gain back their customers’ confidence and differentiate in the right way while delivering on their values of honesty and transparency to demonstrate these are more than just words but rather a prime commitment never to be betrayed.
packagingbrandingbranding strategybusiness strategyconsumer brandsbrandcell articlesretail

Our world is evolving, thanks to technology, at a much faster pace ushering change to most industries. In keeping up with these transformations, a holistic approach has become indispensable, especially when dealing with constantly-shifting consumer needs. In addressing these, ArabAd asked Joe Ayoub, CEO of one of the region’s leading branding agencies, Brandcell, about its new strategy and future plans for the Middle Eastern market.

We noticed in your new website that Brandcell has evolved. Can you tell us more
about it?

The launch of our new website was timed to reflect our evolution to being a business design and innovation consultancy. Previously we were a strategic branding agency and while it is still part of what we do, as a business design consultancy we provide a more holistic approach that fits the needs of today’s businesses better. It is worth noting that while we were the first to bring true branding expertise to the Levant, we are also the first to bring business design to the region.

What are the major factors that pushed you to this evolution?

Today’s market is more dynamic, the rules and consumers are changing, and technology is making all of these changes happen extremely fast. So we need to adapt and provide our customers with new tools and techniques to solve the issues they face today and those of the future.

And what is business design exactly?

Business design is about applying design thinking with tested strategy tools to solve business issues. Simply put, products and services are developed around the users and their needs thereby delivering seamless and memorable experiences. The principal is based on a ‘human-centric’ approach. The business design scope can touch on any service or product offering, redesigning the sales process or pretty much anything that involves a business’s interaction with its customers. Whether it’s about your strategy, organisation, sales, brand or customer service, we can design, with our global partner Livework, very focused and customer centric solutions that have direct impact on your business. That’s Business Design.

What approach is used?

Too many organisations try to address complex, interrelated business and marketing challenges with traditional, isolated ‘solutions’ that merely tackle one issue at a time. This approach neither takes into account the impact across the organisation nor does it offer any insight related to customers’ perception.

We see that measurable business solutions need to work across every part of your organisationto serve your customers and help you build a better business.

The approach is comprised of four steps. The first is understanding and discovering the consumers as human beings in their own context and engaging them to understand how and why they behave this way. The second is imagining how to improve via different scenarios the way they use or consume a service or product. The third is designing and testing a new service journey model and the fourth is implementing it. It’s actually a very scientific and collaborative approach through which we co-create with and for our clients the solutions that suit them best.

Do you think the market in this part of the world is ready for business design?

We believe it is. We have moved very fast from being in an industrial age to a product-based age then to a service age and now to an experience age. Everywhere you go you hear these buzzwords. Apple was the first to realise this and create a seamless experience between the product and every aspect of the consumer interaction with the brand. Now people don’t only want a product or service which is transactional. They want a full experience to delight them and magnify the value of what they’re paying. Let’s not forget that 80 percent of our economy here and in the region is service driven yet service has traditionally been neglected.

Tell us more about your partnership with Live Work.

In order to understand, learn and bring this discipline of business design to a more professional level to the market we looked for the experts in this field. We selected Livework as our partners based on our chemistry and synergies, and the fact that they were the pioneers in commercial service design. They were the first to take this field from an academic to a commercial level. Coupled with their down to earth approach and wide global experience, we could not help but love that about them. They’ve worked with very large, high profile clients including companies such as Orange, Barclays and Transport London. Through this partnership we are bringing knowledge, expertise and best practices to the region and to our clients.

Do you touch on communication?

Actually we are excellent purveyors of content or news-worthy material for our clients’ communication. Once we design a new solution that makes a difference and gives clients a market edge or internally a new way of operating, they in turn would need to communicate these innovations and therefore the ad agency will get more business to work on that is more focused and exciting. So to answer you, yes we touch on it from an all-inclusive angle but we don’t communicate it ourselves as this is the agency’s role.

What are your plans moving forward?

We are now reinforcing our presence in Beirut and in the process of establishing a presence in Dubai to service the GCC. We are currently exploring various forms of establishments there that should hopefully be finalised within the coming couple of months.

business designbrandcell newsbrandcell articles

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image credit: flywheel

While we often hear about innovations in technology, we hear less about innovations in the consumer industry. Why? It comprises more than 20 percent of the U.S. economy, and touches nearly every aspect of our lives, influencing what we eat, wear, and increasingly, reflecting what we believe. (I believe in sustainability, therefore I buy from sustainable brands.)

Good companies create products. Great companies create identities. We work with consumer companies day in and day out at CircleUp -- we've reviewed more than 4,500 in the past two years alone -- and we're excited to share some of the amazing things they're doing, from pioneering new categories to re-imagining new industries. 

After receiving more than 200 expert nominations we got to work selecting the winners -- 25 of the most innovative consumer product and retail companies in the world. We included both small companies and large -- because neither has a monopoly on innovation.

01-shake-shack.jpg
image credit: Shake Shack

1. Shake Shack
Why? For dispelling the belief that fast food has to be pre-cooked.  

2. Blue Buffalo
Why? For setting a new standard in healthy dog and cat food.

3.Corsair Distillery
Why? For defining a new standard of quality and taste with its small batch, ultra-premium whiskey.

4. Everlane
Why? For promoting radical transparency in its manufacturing standards and helping cement social good as a value for startup clothing companies.


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image credit: Poler

5. Poler
Why? For supplying and clothing the explorer in all of us.  

6. Patagonia
Why? For innovation that results in extraordinary brand loyalty.

7. Tory Burch
Why? For weaving sensibility into style, and never letting growth compromise authenticity.


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image credit: blue bottle coffee

8. Blue Bottle Coffee
Why? For attempting to upend Starbucks’ market domination by choosing quality over quantity, with no compromises.

9. Pressed Juicery
Why? For cutting through the confusion and condescension of health trends.  

10. FitBit
Why? For leading the small but growing wearables market, and getting office workers everywhere to ask, “What’s your number?”
 
11. TRX
Why? For re-imagining how, where and why we workout.
 
12. Flywheel
Why? For making indoor cycling epic.


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image credit: NatureBox
 
13. NatureBox
Why? For marrying food with tech to make healthy eating easy, affordable and delicious.
 
14. ThinkThin
Why? For fueling a healthy, energetic lifestyle, and making it taste darn good too!
 
15. Hampton Creek
Why? For asking, “Why not?”, and innovating a fundamentally new way of food production that’s better for humans and animals alike
 
16. Justin's
Why? For never compromising on quality, and mixing community and sustainability into every product it makes.
 
17. Aden + Anais
Why? For simplifying the lives of parents and caregivers, and making beautiful products that keep babies safer and more comfortable.  


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image credit: GoldieBlox
 
18. GoldieBlox
Why? For re-imagining toys, and inspiring a new generation of female engineers.        
                     
19. DreamDry
Why? For creating the premiere destination for blowouts in NYC, helping women make every day glamorous.
 
20. Too Faced Cosmetics
Why? For developing a chic line of fashion-forward cosmetics.

21. Sweetgreen
Why? For providing a fusion of tasty food and sustainable design to those living a healthy lifestyle.

22. Asian Box
Why? For bridging the gap between fast casual and your favorite neighborhood joint -- all while using ultra-fresh and sustainable ingredients.
 
23. Serena & Lily
Why? For transforming the home-decor industry, starting with the nursery.


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image credit: Paper Source

24. Paper Source
Why? For inspiring us to “Do Something Creative Every Day,” and bringing out the artist in all of us.

25. Ancient Harvest
Why? For introducing the U.S. consumer to quinoa and other innovative ancient grains, way back in 1983.


Read full article via Entrepreneur
innovationtips
With the business climate deteriorating, how can you ensure that you're running your business to optimum efficiency?

Adrian Gundy, senior executive for innovation, Centre for Competitiveness (CforC), replies:

141100-innovation.jpg

" In the current economic climate, innovation is more important than ever as it can result in significant efficiency gains as well as new markets and new revenue streams. There is the temptation in a difficult business environment to cut spending on innovation. However, this is often counterproductive.
Innovation means finding new and better ways of doing things to support business improvement and growth. A process of ongoing, planned innovation is vital.

Know your own business.
The first step to becoming more innovative is to gain a picture of your current business performance in order to understand your strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to prioritise the areas of your business on which your efforts should be focused.
There are a number of ways of benchmarking your business performance. The most widely used business improvement and planning tool in Europe is the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model. Thousands of businesses across Europe use the EFQM Excellence Model to continually monitor and improve their business in a planned and strategic way. The benefits of using the tool are well accepted and I would encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to take advantage of its potential.

Know your business environment.
It is also vital that you scan the business landscape for innovation opportunities — know your marketplace, know your customers and continually monitor both. If you know your customers and the marketplace better than your competitors, the likelihood is that you will become aware of opportunities to develop new products or services, or to expand your products or services before they do.

Create an innovation culture.
It is those businesses that develop innovation policies and strategies and integrate them into their organisation's strategy that become the most innovative. They then empower and educate their people so that innovation becomes second nature".


via belfasttelegraph.co.uk
business strategytips
Each december, world design rankings (WDR) releases a list that positions countries according to the number of international juried design competitions and awards they have won over the last twelve-month period.

Organized by the A' design award & competition, the aim of the WDR is to provide data and insights to economists and journalists regarding the art, architecture and design industries, and bring to light the annual contributions made to global design culture through advocation.  

2013 saw 69 countries evaluated, with puerto rico and iceland among them, debuting for the first time under a new section called 'design business insights' that scores countries based on their success in diverse design fields and categories, broken down into three additional tables (strengths, weaknesses and opportunities) for each nation.  
'Design strengths' indicate dominant design fields in which a country is competitive and successful in, allowing media and the general public to discover who leads in specific sectors, such as: 'which country is best in industrial design?'; 'which country is best in interior design?'; and 'which country is best in automotive design?'. 'design weaknesses' charts whether or not a country is below average in comparison to others in the context of a specific design category; while 'design opportunities' is an evaluation of the undiscovered areas of design which could be further explored by country. further breaking down the world design rankings in this way allows media and design enthusiasts in the various creative disciplines, to more easily understand and discuss the importance of the discipline's diverse areas in relation to each individual country. the insights could also be used by policy makers to determine whether or not a specific sector or industry could receive government subsidies or subvention.  

you may view the full world design rankings for 2013 here and view the general grading for this year below

world-design-rankings-2013-03.jpg
 

score points legend:

 platinum award counts as six (6) 
 a golden award counts as five (5)
 silver award counts as (4)
 bronze award counts as three (3)
 A’ award (marked as iron) counts as two (2)

 

the 2013-2014  A’ design award & competition winners have been organized under three different categories: the ‘world design rankings’ (which lists the ranking of all represented countries), ‘designer rankings’ (individual rankings of designers i.e. the design hall of fame), and ‘design classifications’ (category based rankings).
 


‘rising moon’ by stanley siu
platinum A’ architecture, building and urban design award winner, 2013-2014



world-design-rankings-2013-05-(1).jpg

‘smartstreets-cyclepark™ transformational bike parking by chris garcin and andrew farish smartstreets ltd. 
platinum A’ design award winner in street furniture design category, 2013-2014


Original article via designboom
innovationawards + recognitionrankings
Integrating design into your company involves more than just hiring superstar designers. It takes a long-term commitment and developing a culture that brings everyone up to speed, writes motives Jeneanne Rae.
While design has always been fundamental to industries such  as fashion and consumer electronics, it has now spread to nontraditional settings such as airlines, consumer goods, and even governments, where it has become the driver for differentiated end-to-end customer experiences as well as innovation. That's no longer news: Today, most executives recognize that design can be  a source of competitive advantage. What most executives don't recognize is how to manage design strategically, how to use it to win in their industry, and how high-performance design organizations are organized to deliver great results. After years of leading assessment and change management efforts at global corporations, here's what I've figured out that leaders need to know to start to build design into the DNA of their organisations.

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ALIGN GOALS AND STRATEGY.  The most effective design organizations set goals that are aligned with their organization's corporate strategy. When HP went on a recent cost-cutting spree, its design team heroically delivered more than $50 million a year in savings by standardizing of the HP "jewel" logo across its vast array of equipment. Having a clear design vision and strategy like this allows a design organization to know what it  is shooting for and to put in place the appropriate talent and other resources to execute the plan. However, getting the vision and strategy to align with the talent and resources required to execute is most often where things go awry.  In nascent situations, neither the design executives nor the executive leadership team understand the extent of the organizational development effort required to support the corporate strategy. Consequently, progress  is often slow and more painful than it needs to be. Simple tools like organizational road mapping and the resourcing to support the plan can set the right course for transformation, yet I've seen few companies treat design capability building seriously enough to merit this type of attention. Why?    UNDERSTAND

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESIGN THINKING AND DESIGN.  Much has been made of using design methods (commonly referred to as "design thinking") for solving complex business challenges. In fact, the term has gotten so much coverage lately that I fear that many people are starting  to think about design and design thinking as interchangeable terms. They are not. Design thinking is methodology that is taught in certain types of design schools, notably industrial design and architecture; therefore only a subset of all designers are bona fide design thinkers through their academic training and practice. While better use of design thinking methods should be useful for any corporation in solving its most wicked problems, design thinking will not in and of itself drive better design.    

HIRING SUPERSTAR DESIGNERS IS NOT THE ANSWER.  A common theme that we've observed over the last several years is that senior executives who are hot on pursuing design as a business strategy coerce a seasoned design star into their companies only to find themselves frustrated 12 to 18 months out when they haven't become the "Apple of their industry." Worse is when corporations go through the time, expense, and trouble to hire multiple superstar designers only to have them leave within  a short period after becoming frustrated by the system and lack of results they are able to produce. Not only does this situation beget very low returns on substantial investments but also significant product disruptions and low morale for the people left behind.  While getting the best talent is an important goal, creating an environment where design can thrive should be the greater focus.    

MEASURING THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT FOR DESIGN IS A LONG-TERM PURSUIT.  Skeptics always want to know why they should make such significant investments in design. Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer. Companies such as Nielsen that analyze marketing-mix investments do not account for design. The impact of design can span a variety of activities.  And measuring emotional impact, or the "delight factor," of design is poorly understood in corporations that do not invest heavily in studying why people choose or don't choose their products.  However, if stock price can be viewed as a proxy for the impact of design  in the marketplace, consider the performance of this bucket of 10 firms that have invested significantly in design over the last 10 years. Using an approach similar to how performance of the S&P 500 is derived, our analysis shows that a $10,000 investment in our design index of diverse design-centric companies would have yielded a 64% return, whereas an investment in the S&P would have yielded a -22% return. The outsized returns for design-centric organizations represent a collective set of design investments on the part of each firm, as no single investment could possibly drive the type of momentum realized. Note: To normalize data, we left Apple off the list.    

GREAT DESIGN LEADERSHIP IS IMPORTANT. BUT GREAT CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.  
It is true that most high-performance corporate design functions have seasoned leaders who possess what it takes to make the "magic" happen for a multibillion-dollar global enterprise.  What is less known but also true is that a hallmark of design-centric companies is that design seamlessly integrates into the larger set of processes that constitute production in their organizations. Whether the process is budgeting, innovation, engineering development, branding, supply chain management, or something else, design has an uncontested role and decision rights.  Mature organizations aspiring to use design strategically will find this state  of nirvana elusive without significant intervention. Overhauling processes is painful; managers despise having their former roles usurped; design culture and training leave managers unprepared for such organizational wrestling. Further, such far-reaching change cannot solely be design's job. Any company that wants more and better design must mandate that design be embraced.    But as Chuck Jones, a former VP of design at Whirlpool and now chief design officer at Masco Corporation, says, that requires a long-term commitment: "You have to be in it for the long haul: Creating sustainable competitive advantage through design is not a quick or easy task. In my view, it will take seven to 10 years to get the capability to a point where it is consistently producing the kinds of results that are winning in the marketplace with the added benefit of shifting the relevant brand image to that of 'design leader.' From there, it is up to the entire organization to maintain this commitment and focus on design--for decades. Herman Miller, as an example, comes to mind. Their focus on design leadership spans over 60 years and continues unabated."  Organizations that do this quicker than most employ a range of internal help, not the least of which is a senior leadership team whose unwavering support ensures the organization enacts the required change.    

COMPANIES THAT GET THE MOST FROM DESIGN RELY ON A CULTURE OF DESIGN.  Any organization that wants to leverage design for strategic advantage needs to know that this cannot be achieved overnight; most likely, it will take many years. One way to shorten the journey is to concentrate some portion of the effort on building a culture of design.  Achieving a culture of design means that everyone in the organization understands what design is, how it is used for strategic advantage in the organization, how and when design resources are used, what the work of design entails, and how design efforts should integrate with the company's production processes.    "It's been extremely important to share with the organization that design was beyond pretty products and cake decoration at the end of the innovation process," says Mauro Porcini, 3M's head of global strategic design. "We made clear in all possible ways that by definition design was not just about designers: We wanted to have each 3M function, from marketing to the laboratories, from manufacturing to sourcing, from HR to legal, aware of the value of design, engaged, eventually excited, and ready to drive the design strategy as a collective collaborative effort."  Along with championing the design process, the best corporate design leaders are effective at conveying design's importance to the health of the enterprise, especially in the early days of their tenure. In an organization the size of Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, 3M, Masco, Johnson & Johnson, or Hewlett-Packard, where remarkable design transformations are presently under way, this can be a difficult task. Nevertheless, individual and collective efforts like those mentioned here are making a difference every day in turning these admired companies into the design leaders of the future.    

CHECKLIST: FIVE TIPS FOR BUILDING CORPORATE DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS  Consistently great corporate design is the product of the following elements:  1. A vision and strategy that is well-articulated and understood by its organization;  2. leadership that is capable and committed to driving its vision;  3. an organization that is structured and resourced for success;  4. a talent pool that is diverse in design disciplines and deployed at key points of functional integration;  5. a culture that embraces the myriad dimensions of design.      

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Jeneanne Rae is the CEO of Motiv Strategies, and is an internationally recognized thought leader on innovation management and design strategy.

Original article via fastcodesign.com


 
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