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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 18-May-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ

Signature Innovation: When innovations bear a signature


What do the chocolate bars of Frank Rosin's Duck Liver or Plachutta's Tafelspitz have in common? They are the signature dish of a cook or restaurant. These are dishes that everyone immediately associates with the name of the creator or supplier. What is common in the culinary world is now entering the world of novelties. A Signature innovation is a new development that bears the signature of the company that brings it onto the market. The royal class of innovations, so to speak. And this is not a windfall or a stroke of luck, but can fortunately be planned.

Change is not an innovation

Innovation is a positive term and therefore nobody does NOT want to be innovative. However, many companies describe even the smallest change in their product or service as innovation. Completely irrespective of whether this change also means an improvement for the customer or the company itself. And even if such an innovation improves something, it is exaggerated to speak of an innovation. Inventions must first prove themselves on the market if they are to be considered innovations.

Handbook LEAD User Method


Signature Innovations stand out

Signature Innovations stand out from the mass of "innovations" for several reasons. They are the top class of innovations. A Signature innovation determines the image and market positioning of your company in the long term. The term "signature innovation" can best be grasped through examples:


iPhone as a successful overall solution

When Apple launched its iPhone, mobile phones were actually getting smaller and smaller. And there were no devices that deserved the term smartphone. Smartphones did exist in the 1990s. But Apple knew best how to combine a phone, a personal digital assistant, a media player, a digital photo and video camera and a GPS navigation device in one device. There was also an Internet connection via mobile broadband or WLAN, and a digital store for music, videos and applications (iTunes and App Store). Apple added to this package the ingredients for which the company was already known at that time: reliable, easy to use, understandable for everyone, paired with high-quality design. Apple was also able to offer this successful bundle because the company developed software and hardware together. Typically Apple.


Jogging Hi by Adidas: Cult and function combined in one shoe

In 1982, the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas launched a pair of shoes that split Austrian consumers into two camps. Jogging Hi was loved or hated - but everyone knew her. The high, leather sports shoes had their special feature in the sole. Three coloured cushioning wedges in the colours white, red and blue. Depending on requirements, the wearer could "adjust" his shoe hard, medium or soft. The Jogging Hi was a fashionable accessory in the 1980s - with well thought-out function. An accessory that was still known to an entire generation decades later: in 2010, the company launched a new edition of the shoe.


Seamless tights by Wolford

The textile company Wolford was the first manufacturer of women's stockings to solve the problem that bothered the wearers most: the seams. In 1994, Wolford launched the "Fatal Tights", a stocking with only one seam on the waistband. For many years, this was the company's greatest innovation, with which consumers still associate the brand today. In 2014, the Vorarlberg-based company finally succeeded in meeting its "seamless" positioning 100 percent: Thanks to an innovative adhesive process, the Pure 50 Tights do not require any seams.


Handleless "whisper fittings" from Blum

Blum, also from Vorarlberg but now active worldwide, has concentrated on functional furniture fittings. Especially in the case of fittings for drawers, the technicians were faced with the problem for a long time: either light, and thus without handles possible opening by tapping, or gentle, noise-damped closing. Both could not be combined mechanically for a long time. Until Blum combined its TIP-ON mechanical opening support with the BLUMOTION cushioning system. The manufacturer of fittings allows easy opening and gentle closing without handles: With the Servo Drive, electric motors ensure even greater smoothness.


Stripeless cleaning with Vileda

Founded as a tannery in 1848 in Weinheim, Baden-Württemberg, Freudenberg naturally knows a lot about leather. Also imitation leather. This was made from a fleece of natural fibres of cotton, wool and other raw materials, which was then soaked in a synthetic rubber mixture. The company first used this artificial leather as a material for bags and schoolbags. The company's cleaning ladies brought Freudenberg a new field of application, because they use remnants of the fleece for cleaning. From this, Freudenberg developed a window cleaning cloth that achieved the same good results as chamois leather: clean glass without stripes. By the way, the name "Vileda" is derived from the colloquial "Like leather". Today, the Vileda brand not only stands for pure windows, but has also dedicated itself to streak-free cleanliness.


Conclusion - Signature Innovation: When innovations bear a signature

Of course, there are many more examples of a signature innovation. No matter if worldwide brand or only known in a niche: The characteristics of innovation are inseparably linked to the company. The company's signature is immediately recognizable.

However, a Signature Innovation is not a stroke of luck for you - or not. It can be planned. With a roadmap project or the LEAD User method. You just have to want it.

4 Phases of the LEAD User Method

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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