Brands driving innovation – a taster of 2017

Brands thrive on marketing innovation, and change is great for the creative juices. This being so, 2017 has been a fab year for branding and brand development as the speed and quantum nature of change has indeed been eyebrow-raising. Mega trends, mega brands and mega innovation have been the order of the year, and brand owners, creatives and communicators have all been doing overtime to grapple with changing consumer expectations, perspectives and possibilities.

The iPhone X was the daddy of them all in the smart-device world and even superseded in double-quick time its own sister offerings, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus…. speed of change or what! And here of course it’s the brand that’s doing the driving, and upping the public’s appetite and desire for the next big thing in tech innovation. Driving of a more traditional type was also proving its innovation worth……

In a year following Tesla’s re-crafted corporate mission statement (it pivoted from a transport to energy focus), Tesla further advanced the cause of the electric automobile in the luxury brand category. But even Tesla seems out-gunned by the established global quality marques releasing their own ranges of affordable mid-market electric vehicles. Market progress in this space looks limited only by the availability of on-street eCar Charge Points for parking and powering your new e-friendly roadster. But the car brands didn’t stop there. Have you checked out the latest 2017 offerings, from Honda for example? The new vehicle accessories listings on today’s latest designs are now seriously top-loaded with a whole new raft of ‘sensing’ (i.e., driverless) features and descriptors. These will take some getting used to if your current cruiser is a 2016 model or older.

And again on the transport front, ride-sharing impresario Uber, as it comes under pressure from regulators and customer safety challenges in various markets, is also experiencing the rise of new competitor app brands in established urban markets. Ireland’s capital city of Dublin, for example, is a case-in-point. Here, in 2017, Uber’s competitor Hailo morphed to become mytaxi, then there’s the new app-brand Lynk and, as the year ends, a new taxi-driver-owned app has launched called Whistle, along with a ‘wallet-less’ taxi app designed specially for students called Flag. Creativity and branding have been very much to the fore in the taxi app and ride-sharing industry this year and this is surely a sign of things to come.

And it’s striking also that, in the battle for competitive advantage, brands are now more than ever in the driving seat in creating and bringing exciting innovations to the consumer. Brands are now the source and not merely the servants of business transformation…. previously, perhaps, the consumer might have had more of a say in dictating the creative purpose and process? 2018 is looking like a very interesting brand year indeed.

Brian McGurk

Brian McGurk