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First step for innovation – make it a brand.

15th July 2013

By Wayne Hall

My idea will never work. Why, I asked? Because if it would then someone else would be doing it, wouldn’t they?

Last week, I was trying to convince a new client they had a good idea, and that in my opinion it was worth pursuing for that one single fact – it was a totally new concept.

In an age when many think that an innovative idea is the coming up with another Twitter or Facebook, they are missing the point completely. The real innovators are the ones who are working on concepts no one has even thought of yet.

So how do we recognise when we have a truly innovative idea?

Well, a frustrating way to appreciate this is when you see something and realise it’s a concept you had once thought of. It’s happened to me a couple of times in my life and I have found that it’s a double-edged sword. Firstly there is frustration that you didn’t do it, then comes satisfaction that the concept actually worked and you were right all along.

Other than that I think there are two ways to judge if you have a totally innovative idea that could be brought to market.

Firstly, what inspired it? Did you see something and think you could make it better? If you did that I believe it’s simply development and not innovation.

If it’s an answer to a problem that no one else has solved yet, then you are thinking along the lines of innovation. It does not have to solve big problems. Little problems are also fine but true innovation in my mind simply fills gaps.

Secondly, how easy it is to develop the concept? We take most innovations completely for granted. Certainly the next generation will automatically assume, or could not possibly imagine, that there had ever been a time when this thing did not exist because it just makes complete sense for it to be there.

So if your idea is to solve a problem that no one has solved yet and it’s a very simple solution, then chances are it’s innovative and well worth pursuing.

But then how do we pursue it? In reality this is the most difficult part of innovation; bringing an idea to fruition due to lack of experience or funding.

The reality of it is that most innovators are not necessarily entrepreneurial as I found out with my new client last week. They have great ideas but not the ability to turn them into businesses and develop a profit.

My suggestion to my client was to create a conceptual brand and sell the idea to someone who could get it off the ground and then they could get on with other great thoughts.

So what is a concept brand? Simple! It’s the visualisation of an idea into a brand. It takes the business plan one step further. It’s a potential product, service or even business that exists only conceptually but appears to exist as a thriving business in reality. It has brand values and an identity that can enhance your idea greatly in selling it to others.

Back in the dark ages I believe it would have been hard to sell the idea of a high street coffee shop. Who would have wanted it?

But to have sold, say, the Starbucks brand would have been a lot easier because others would have instantly understood the concept through the brand.

That’s why it’s so easy for an existing brand to move into new markets. The whole idea is there for us to buy straight way. It makes it easier for us to understand it.

So, if you have an idea that you want to become successful, but not the inclination to pursue it, my advice would be to start thinking of it as a working brand from day one and sell the conceptual brand instead of the idea!