By: Andrew Wood, Principal, Strategy
At Mintz + Hoke we have the privilege of working with many brands that are truly innovative. They are constantly looking for new ways to take on tough challenges and meet customer needs. Ultimately, our clients want to gain an edge by playing a more important role in the lives of their customers. Innovation is a big part of how they accomplish that goal—whether through genuine breakthroughs or, more commonly, incremental innovation. To help bring those innovations to market, we work with our clients to discover real insights making their brand more relevant, and as such, more important than their competitors.
While there are many definitions of “insight,” one struck us as very pragmatic and we use it to anchor our discovery process. As described by UK-based branding expert Helen Edwards, a customer insight is “a revelatory breakthrough in your understanding of people’s lives that directs you to new ways in which to serve your customers better.”
Our clients’ innovations give us a chance to re-examine their customers’ worlds and change the conversation. We invite them to rethink and re-engage with the brand and create a fresh connection. We are incredibly proud to help our clients bring their innovations to market. In observation of Innovation Day, I wanted to share some examples from brands we have worked with—big and small—that represent the process of hard-won insights and the resulting campaigns.
OTIS—changing the point of attack
OTIS invented the elevator. But even megabrands search for insights that help them bring new innovations to market. Recognizing that need, OTIS engaged with us to study their customers’ behavior in an effort to launch a new, luxury elevator for the mid-rise European real estate market.
We learned all we could about the ultimate in luxury design that was applied to this product, created with expertise and elements from the famed Porsche Design Center. We worked together, with OTIS, to find a focus. Traditionally, they were most comfortable speaking engineer-to-engineer, clearly and robustly outlining specifications to architects and specifiers. What we uncovered was that we needed to occupy the head and heart of the building owner. For a brand that was previously marketing to the specifying community, it was a change in the point of attack.
For the first time, OTIS was reaching the building owner by demonstrating enhancements to the lifestyle and experience of mid-rise building residents, bringing a touch of exceptional to daily routine. The insight drove the campaign and created a connection with the customer. For an example of the evolution of this insight view the product video here.
Dur-A-Flex—elevating the status and role of a key player within the buying group
Dur-A-Flex is a prime example of incremental innovation. Competing with the likes of Sherwin-Williams, they have more than 50 years of extensive knowledge and product development in seamless flooring. Their differentiators lie in their ability to produce custom solutions and, more recently, their attention to elevating the status and role of a key player within the buying group.
In our discovery together, we studied the procurement process. We learned about the incredibly important role of the Facilities Manager in making critical care spaces run efficiently and profitably. We found that Dur-A-Flex could elevate the personal and professional status of the Facilities Manager by giving him/her the ability to improve the performance of their space, starting with the floor.
Learn more about the campaign by viewing the website and white paper here.
Evans—a breakthrough born of a race track
This last example is the more elusive kind of innovation—the kind that creates a new product category. It’s what the curious minds of inventors really aspire to. It’s something that changes long-standing beliefs and challenges conventional wisdom.
Given that Evans is a tiny brand among huge automotive industry competitors, it’s not going to be easy. We’re trying to change car enthusiasts’ lifetime habituation to use water-based coolants in favor of Evans Waterless Coolant. That is a seismic change for customers to adopt because of incredibly strong attachments to beloved cars.
However, that powerful sentiment extends to fear of engine overheating and damage that are caused by the use of water-based coolants. It’s the water that creates the problem. Water is the enemy, giving way to the insight: the water in the coolant we’ve been putting in our cars for 100 years is actually slowly destroying your precious car. That is why Evans is waterless.
See how Evans Waterless Coolant works in a video here.
A doff of the hat to those who push us forward
This exploration into innovation and supporting insights is a thank you to clients who invite us to be a part of the process. It is sharing acknowledgement and respect to you, and everyone, who keeps pushing for new ways to be competitive, be useful and to find better ways to boldly serve customers. We look forward to pushing through our current challenges and taking on the new ones. And if we haven’t had the pleasure of working with one another, perhaps we will one day. See you out there and keep pushing forward.
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