Innovation – it’s the buzzword that’s bandied around business meetings like a sharpened sword, chopping away at naysayers who might suggest that a brand-spanking new product is nothing more than an old idea in shiny packaging.
And yet innovation in its truest sense is difficult to find. Just as human beings are essentially composite elements made up from inherited DNA and the social factors surrounding them, so too are most new products just a slightly different take on something that’s existed for decades, if not longer.
And yet, sometimes a brand comes along that genuinely blasts a hole in the business landscape, whether it’s an innovative toy, a new way of working or a product that became the latest talking point in the cultural sphere.
To show you how innovation can happen in any sector, here’s a grab-bag of examples.
First up is a company that’s made simple adjustments to beloved toys to create something wholly new. Yvolution are a children’s scooter and bike company that add additional balancing features to their toys, making the process of riding accessible to almost anyone.
These playthings have found a popular niche amongst children and parents thanks to its focus on balance and fun, and its popularity only looks set to soar in the coming years.
The lesson: making substantial adjustments to an existing design can be a game-changer.
When Markus ‘Notch’ Persson designed the building block simulator Minecraft in 2009, he probably couldn’t have predicted the stratospheric levels of success it would enjoy. Like any innovative idea, the wildly popular game asks a simple question, ‘What if LEGO was a videogame?’, and successfully realises its concept.
The result is a game that’s been ported to almost every modern device and continues to receive spin-offs and regular updates to placate the millions of its primarily young users. It’s a sandbox game that presents an infinite number of possibilities to anyone with the time and imagination to dive in. And it all sprang from a no-nonsense premise.
The lesson: the simpler your idea, the easier it is to build on.
Originally released in 2001, the iPod was a revolution in design and comfort. It blew apart contemporaneous notions of how music could be listened to and transformed downloading music from a niche pastime for geeks into a populist movement.
Without the iPod, there’d arguably be no Spotify, or any music streaming platforms for that matter.
Its success came in part because of its incredible design. The now legendary spin wheel made negotiating a complex library of albums a piece of cake, while the company’s integration with iTunes made uploading and downloading tracks easy.
MP3 players may have existed before the iPod, but they were never the same again after its release.
The lesson: slick design and cutting-edge technology are a match made in heaven.
These are amongst our favourite products that innovated the marketplace. Got some brands you want to commend for their approach to innovation? Then let us know in the comments below.