Power Innovation Through Invisibility
How Invisible Innovation Improves Brand Experience
Do you know that jellyfish are between 85% and 98% water? Interestingly, the North American comb jellyfish is able to make itself hydrodynamically ‘invisible’ like a high-tech stealth submarine to sneak up on its prey, making it a successful predator.
Invisible innovation can be an ‘unseen’ strategy to attract customers, improve brand experience and increase profitability. Also known as process/ experience innovation, invisible innovation which harnesses process simplification can bring about valuable consumer benefits: like greater convenience, shorter waiting time or personalised brand experiences.
Particularly, service innovations relating to sustainable development, such as car sharing, elderly care, cooperative nurseries and home services, can benefit from technology that simplify processes for a great customer experience.
Technology reservation systems, for example, have contributed to the success of low-cost model in air transport. By removing most peripheral services such as meals on board, seats allocation and class differentiation, budget airlines such as AirAsia, Ryanair, EasyJet and Scoot have opened flexible travel options to customise experiences for travellers. JetBlue, for example, developed the ‘combining entertainment’ with flight to invent the ‘low-cost business class’.
Unfortunately, brand experiences emerging from invisible innovations are unseen or difficult to spot as customers tend to take these benefits for granted. This explains why many companies tend to focus on visible (product/traditional) innovation which involve straightforward product or solution-driven improvements: such as more fuel saving, longer battery life or faster speed. Visible innovations are easy for consumers to see and appreciate.
This is not to say that visible innovations are unimportant. In reality, when companies stop short of pushing for invisible innovation, they miss the opportunity to carve out a unique customer brand experience that can deepen brand loyalty.
1. A company may initially achieve profits from a product (visible) innovation in the first phase. However, over time, the overall rate of innovation will decrease due to technological change, placing the company in a vulnerable spot.
2. Making your customers feel good about you through process improvement or experience innovation will increase your brand value.
3. Companies can succeed better by finding a balance between visible and invisible; but emphasising on experience innovation can put you ahead of the competition.