Based on an extract from a web article by Toni Newman

secrets of innovationEveryone believes they have innovative ideas but the reality is only a small percentage of innovative ideas turn out to be huge successes. The vast majority of these so-called innovative ideas do not succeed because they are actually not that innovative at all. In fact, some research estimates suggest that as many as 80%-90% of these innovative ideas fail. After 20 years of studying thousands of innovative ideas – including the successful, the semi-successful and the downright disastrous – we have reached the conclusion that there are 5 simple secrets to innovative ideas that get BIG results..

Diamond or Square

In 2006, a young intern with the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency is trying to come up with a fun idea for the back of a box of cereal called Shreddies, a cereal sold mostly in Canada, the UK and New Zealand. The Shreddies challenge was that sales volumes for the iconic 67-year old cereal company had been declining 2% year over year for the last 8 years.

Suddenly, the intern discovered the innovative idea that would turn the company around: Diamond Shreddies.

diamonds not squares

Now you might be forgiven for wondering what has changed. All that changed was the same Shreddie turned on its side to look like a Diamond. But the initial marketing campaign announced that an accident at the plant had resulted in the extinction of Square Shreddies and from now on the product would be Diamond Shreddies. The campaign also included testimonials from customers that Diamond Shreddies tasted much better.

The result: an 18% increase in market share in the first month alone and then sustained increases for the following year.

So what was it about this idea that made it so successful? The reason that Diamond Shreddies was destined for success is that it met each of the 5 criteria that make up The Five S Solution. These are the five simple secrets that you can use in your organization to create innovative ideas that get results.

The Five S Solution

Imagine that the five secrets are the essential pillars of any innovative strategy or idea. When all five are present, your idea is sound and secure. If any of these is missing, your idea becomes vulnerable to failure.  any one of them – or any number of them – and your BIG idea is left teetering in the wind, swaying precariously, and prone to collapse.

The five S’s are: Surprising, Strategic, Seductive, Sustainable, Simple

1- Surprising

For any brand, the biggest challenge is about can be getting and keeping their customers’ attention. You have to get customers to stop, and pay attention. Customers’ brains are in default mode when dealing with vendors. They are expecting repetition of the same old lines but are actually craving for a surprise. If you can’t create this Surprise factor, your innovative ideas run the risk of remaining invisible or worse bland.

With the Shreddies idea, some people loved it and some thought it was a silly, fake idea. But it didn’t matter because it got noticed.  Shreddies had created a story that people felt compelled to share everywhere

2- Strategic

Just being different without a strategic intent is not sufficient. In the case of Shreddies, they had a very specific Strategic intent: to re-kindle then sustain brand awareness. The idea is not just about initial Surprise but also about driving results in the longer term.

3- Seductive

Once you have your customers’ attention and you have strategic purpose, it is now time to get customers to take action. This is where Seduction comes into play. Creating the environment for customers to actively share the information, to talk about the idea is what creates traction.

4- Sustainable

Even the most innovative ideas have a limited shelf life. So it is necessary to ensure that whatever idea you have can stay the course for a year or two at least before it goes stale.

5- Simple

The simplest ideas are usually the best ideas. They are simple for you and simple for the customer.  Any kind of complexity kills engagement and provides an excuse for your customer to disconnect.