SOURCE: marcus evans

marcus evans

August 10, 2016 16:40 ET

Promote Innovation Through Storytelling

Interview with Ben Brenton, Chief Innovation Officer, Snap-On Incorporated

PHILADELPHIA, PA --(Marketwired - August 10, 2016) - In an age where the world and all it has to offer are accessible by fingertip, identifying new business intersections and opportunities for innovation is an increasingly difficult task. To sustain a competitive edge, companies have to drive innovation internally, bridge commercial gaps created by ever-changing market trends and tech upgrades, as well as continually improve their abilities to meet consumer needs.

Ben Brenton, Chief Innovation Officer at Snap-On Incorporated, recently spoke with marcus evans about topics to be discussed at the upcoming 7th Process Driven Innovation Conference:

How can you use storytelling to get funding in early-growth stages?

BB: We find that a great story is much more valuable than quantitative data in obtaining funding for the early stages of innovation. I am a strong believer in the power of a passionate team that can describe customer needs and the resulting opportunity through story. I have never seen a team with a cohesive story be told no. We use stories to communicate the voice of the customer. This includes the needs that customers can articulate to us, often through quotes; and the unarticulated needs that we identify by watching our customers work -- these needs are often brought to life with photos. A photo is worth a thousand words and a short narrative describing the significance of the image results in a powerful story. We try to use a template for each story that starts with our strategy then describes what we saw and what we heard. These observations are then translated into key insights and implications. The "so what" or punch line for the story are the implications which are turned into opportunities for the corporation.

What is your preferred way to engage consumers in brand innovation through creative marketing and commercialization strategies?

BB: Note that I use customer, consumer and end-user interchangeably. We are fortunate since our customers use our products to make a living. We visit their work place and watch them work. We may ask a few clarifying questions but our focus is on observation. We take these observations and synthesize insights and eventually opportunities from them. We will craft a short story to tell our customers to confirm that the insight resonates with them.

What is the role of the corporate narrative to drive an externally recognized culture of growth?

BB: We belief in Fearless Innovation and Passionate Customer Care. My role at Snap-on is to drive this culture of customer centric innovation. All of our associates are measured on goals related to customer connection, innovation and collaboration (in addition to their business goals). Our corporation was built on innovation and it is what drives top line growth to this day.

How do consumer behavior and engagement influence a brand's reputation for innovation?

BB: The more engaged customers are with a brand the more likely they are to embrace innovation launched by the corporation. Having strong devotion to a brand enables innovation. However, it also means that any new products or services must deliver on the brand promise. Innovation done wrong can erode brand equity and severely disappoint consumers. At Snap-on we have a large population of dedicated users that are enthusiastic supporters of the brand. In fact, we have a large number of customers who have Snap-on tattoos. These tattoos are designed by our customers (not the corporation) and they chose to pay for the tattoos and proudly display them.

Why is it important to optimize branding and storytelling to promote innovations?

BB: As demonstrated by the back story of customer tattoos, story provides a powerful way of bringing the brand essence to life. The brand story must be consistent with innovation and vice versa.

Join Ben Brenton at the 7th Process Driven Innovation Conference, September 14-15, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. View the conference agenda to check out Ben's case study topic. For more information, please contact Tyler Kelch, Digital Marketing Manager, marcus evans at 312.894.6310 or tylerke@marcusevansch.com.

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