Why Innovation can mean going back to basics first

Innovation: the word itself implies new, transformative ideas and technology. However, innovation depends heavily on what came before—the basics. When companies try too hard to be innovative, those efforts can often fall flat if they lose sight of basic principles. This is especially true when innovation continues blazing on ahead, but the conditions that first spurred that innovation have changed drastically. While it’s very important to have creative people on task to introduce exciting new ideas, it’s equally essential that everyone understand what basics they’re building on in the process. Innovation for innovation’s sake won’t lead to success. Here are a few examples of why it’s important to respect and consider innovative ideas, while paying attention to the solid principles of the basics ideas are built on—and backtracking when necessary.


First Steps: Pausing and Reassessing

Before anything else, it’s a good idea to pause current processes and think about the company’s core values and roots. Stripping everything back down to what the company’s original purpose or goal was can make everyone think more clearly without all the clutter. Once the dust has settled, and everyone has re-focused on the original roots the business was built on, innovation often emerges from the newfound clarity this process offers.

Going through this process accomplishes a number of goals. It gives everyone a fresh perspective on the real issues customers are facing—and allows focus to return to customer pain points. Instead of focusing on the bells and whistles, the company can then move forward and make changes that serve the customer and stays true to the organization’s values and original message. Let’s take a look at some of the ways companies have used this process with great success.


The Basics of Marketing Innovation: Standing Out

The basic idea of marketing is simple, of course: get the word out about your product or service in the right way in order to generate sales. This can be done by engaging with customers through many different channels: word of mouth, printed media, online advertisements, social media, and even video. When the Internet was growing in popularity, there wasn’t much competition in the digital marketing space—but now it’s incredibly crowded and difficult to cut through the noise. These days, some marketers are having more success by going back to the basics and solving customers’ pain points based on those principles.

Ikea, for example, has harnessed augmented reality (AR) to deliver virtual furniture into customers homes. One argument against online shopping has always been that you can’t touch, rotate, or really get a feel for how an item will look once it’s in your home. Ikea’s app takes the in-person experience a step further (minus touch, of course) and allows shoppers to see what different pieces will look like in their homes. Developing this innovative app meant going back to the basics and seeing what was really keeping some customers from buying—and offering an innovative solution.

Standing out from the competition in marketing means doing what no one else is—whether that means going back to email marketing or building a whole new app experience based on shopping in person.


Basics are Popular for a Reason

We’re all for innovation, and we’d be nowhere if creative people weren’t constantly coming up with new ideas for products, processes, and technology. However, sometimes an original idea is good enough that it doesn’t need improvement—and innovation in this case can come at a cost.

Lego may be an extremely popular toy, and the business may be very successful, but its efforts in innovation haven’t always paid off. In the 1990s, the company moved away from its classic bricks and offered more specialized playsets that weren’t as appealing to its consumer base. After several years of turmoil and near collapse, they returned to their roots, and started focusing on the original blocks once again. Today, some of their more recent innovative offshoots have also gained popularity (such as Lego Friends), but by always keeping the basis of their success at the forefront of the company, Lego has prospered once again.

Tried and true basics will always be popular because they work. Consumer buying trendswill change over time, but many customers just want the basics because they’re comfortable and familiar. A company’s unique selling proposition isn’t something to tinker with unless it’s proven to be a necessary step.


Be Ready to Change Direction

Part of successful innovation is recognizing when an idea has fallen flat or has strayed too far from its original purpose. It’s not admitting defeat to try new options and revert back to the basics if they don’t work. Trial and error is necessary for success! If you’re not convinced, look at Amazon: they’ve launched dozens of new services and features throughout the years, only some of which were fully successful (remember Amazon Local, anyone?). However, they remain the largest online retailer in the world, and continue to gain stock value as time goes on. Being able to pivot or even call it quits on an innovation isn’t giving up – it’s exploring a new direction and going back to basics, which can help companies refocus and reevaluate what’s really important to pursue in their innovation efforts.