Guest Post by Jim Morris
If you develop a truly innovative product or service, the world isn’t familiar with it. No one knows that it exists. The barrier of the unknown needs to be obliterated. This can only be done through communication. But does communication about innovation need to be innovative itself?
Certainly, creativity comes into play in developing pieces of communication that deliver a message—first educational, then persuasive—about the value of an innovation, and in doing so, these communications affect the feelings, thinking and/or behavior of your customers.
In trying to communicate the benefits of our product or service, you speak or write or draw something and, if that communication is successful, your customer processes and understands what it is that’s been said or written or drawn, and acts—or doesn’t act—accordingly.
The mode by which these words and pictures is presented may be susceptible to occasional innovation. But creativity in the words and pictures themselves is just that—creativity. Nothing to do with innovation.
Websites. Blogs. Podcasts. Advergames. Folk advertising. Text message marketing. Viral videos. Experiential marketing. It may seem like a new, dare we say innovative, vehicle/channel/medium of communication pops up every month. But even if that were true, (which it’s not), that would only be a handful of “communications innovations” a year.
Whereas there are tens of thousands of companies like yours asking thousands of creative agencies to create zillions of persuasive communications for them all the time. It’s just plain silly to expect to develop a brand new vehicle/channel/medium for every communication.
The fact is, your business, like every business, is in the business of creating persuasive communications regarding your product or service, whether you do it yourself or you hire some kind of communications company to help you.
Regardless of who develops the communication, until we work the bugs out of that telepathy thing, or re-invent our alphabet, communication per se will remain largely unsusceptible to substantial innovation.
So, if not the vehicle/channel/medium, what’s left to innovate? Here’s where we find out just how broadly the meaning of innovation can be stretched. If we create an attention-getting, powerful, motivating, unexampled print ad or website or whatever, can it be called innovative in any sense?
When we stretch the meaning of “innovation’ so broadly that it encompasses every “creative” idea, every fresh piece of communication, it collapses in on itself. It erases the distinction between “innovative” and “creative.” By conflating these two terms, we hopelessly dilute, weaken, confuse and undermine the communicative power of both. And we will ultimately be compelled to come up with some new term to refer to innovation, because the need to distinguish between creativity and innovation will remain.
Just as words like “new” and “innovative” aren’t, themselves, new, it’s just as true that communications about an innovation, or, for that matter, about any product or service, may be wildly creative, but seldom innovative.
If we can all just keep this distinction clear in our minds, communication of all kinds–with our employees, our customers, and especially with our marketing communication partners, will be far more productive and far less muddled.
Moral of the Story:
Innovation is, by definition, creative.
Communicating an innovation to the world can be done creatively.
But even the most creative communication is rarely innovative.
Jim Morris, The Communicaterer, is a freelance copywriter among whose specialties is the creation of taglines. Examples of taglines he has written can be found on his website, www.communicaterer.com