Brand Extension
The Essential Business of Innovation

By: Ted Curtin, Chief Innovation Officer, ProdigyWorks

How are You Essential?

That was a question posed to me by my friend, and renowned marketing strategist, Drew Neisser, back in the early days of COVID-19. It’s a question that, frankly, every business determined to not just survive, but thrive beyond the uncertainty of the pandemic, needs to be asking themselves. What once felt chaotic, now presents itself as a new world of opportunities to meet the rapidly evolving needs of consumers and businesses alike.

It’s a question that requires a bit more reflection.

Drew wasn’t the only one. There was a lot of talk during the initial months of the pandemic over what and who is essential, and who is not. While “Essential” has emerged as one of the lasting COVID-19-era buzzwords, essential is in the eyes of the beholder. For you, for your employees, and most of all, for your customers.

Their needs have changed.

I think we can all agree that Tiger King feels like years ago and now consumers are back to the business of figuring out how to get things done, how to save time, how to save money, how to enrich their lives with experiences that transcend the latest news cycle.

People talk about how much things have changed over the past 6 months, and while that’s true to an extent, it’s not as revolutionary as it seems. The innovations we’ve seen have not been as much about new technologies and solutions, but rather the expedited adoption of already existing, but emerging, tech into our daily lives. Still, the pandemic has proven to be more than just an accelerator event.

In the face of new work scenarios, school and educational structures, and recreational opportunities, we see shifts in dining patterns, new shopping rituals, and new places and spaces for family and fun.

Where do you show up?  How are you the solution?

While the retail brand and SKU consolidation is likely temporary but arguably overdue, the potential to fill the new gaps, present your brand in the face of new needs and opportunities, and become more important and meaningful in the lives of your customers has never been as strong as it is now.

The rapid changes in both consumer behavior and the competitive landscape provide incredibly fertile ground for new thinking, fresh ideas, and innovative opportunities to show up and succeed in ways that matter to your consumers.

Tapping into internal resources and even cross-functional teams is one way to start but the truth is that in a pivotal moment of opportunity, the same old thinking and same old ideas won’t cut it. This is when the value of outside thinking can bring in completely new-to-the-organization resources, to cut through existing cultural bias and knowledge of what shouldn’t work and shift the competitive landscape in your favor.

The truth of this tumultuous year is that when it’s all said and done, either your brand will have found a new-found meaningful place in your customers’ hearts and lives, or your competition will have instead.


ProdigyWorks – Originating as a partnership with Mensa more than 12 years ago, ProdigyWorks is a unique, global, high-IQ network that takes incredibly diverse combinations of the world’s smartest and most creative thinkers and unleashes them on brands’ toughest innovation, futuring, naming and product development challenges. 

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