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The Innovation index

The Innovation index

The obvious next question, then, is how can Dutch brands can improve their Innovation scores? One avenue is Disruption – as measured by consumer perceptions of how much a brand is “Shaking things up.” The challenge with disruption, of course, is that today’s disruptive breakthrough is tomorrow’s new normal; these days, leaders need to keep finding ways to sustain their disruption.

It’s therefore worth noting that disruption is just one component of how BrandZ™ tracks Innovation. Creativity and Leadership are just as crucial to determining whether a brand stands out as Innovative in consumers’ eyes. Because of this wider definition, Innovation is hardly the sole preserve of technology brands. Any brand that is seen as doing something new, or setting trends for their category, will get talked about and tried.

Nor is Innovation just about introducing new products. Sometimes it simply means improving brand communications –that is, investing more in advertising to communicate what is already unique and exciting about a brand. Innovation can also mean increasing flexibility and nimbleness. This could mean finding new ways to deliver existing products in more convenient formats, or for radically better prices.

Leverage brand assets

All that being said, Innovation is only part of the Difference picture. Brands can also cultivate difference through their commitments to service, value, heritage, and a host of other factors. Indeed, the story of Difference is in many ways a story about smartly leveraging brand assets: those logos, packaging, colorways, characters, slogans, designs, and more that set brands apart in consumers’ eyes.

(To learn more about brand assets, see Erzi Eleveld’s Thought Leadership piece on the subject elsewhere in this report.)

Personality can also play a big role in driving Difference – and by extension, brand value. This year’s Top Risers, for instance, had higher average scores in aspects like Fun, Creativity, and Playfulness than flat and declining brands. Consider the ways that many Dutch brands use quirky designs and activations to stand out in a competitive landscape: from brewer Bavaria’s ambush marketing schemes, to Hema’s colorful product arrays, Dutch brands can and should bet on Difference as they plan for future growth.