brand driven innovation presentation

Here’s a presentation that summarises the ideas behind Brand Driven Innovation and provides a concrete 4 step plan for action, including many examples. The presentation was held for a group of French CEO’s of a large mutual insurance fund.

I find myself thinking and talking a lot these days about what it takes for an organisation to pro-actively grow, to live up to an ambition, or to make ideas come true, rather than re-actively ‘change’ to keep up with the times. Read this post by Martijn Linssen for example, that was based on a dialogue Martijn and I had on Twitter. This presentation tries to capture that rather philosophical train of thought in a number of statements that bring it down to the work floor.

I’m not one for bite-size pieces and one size fits all tools though. I want my work to be reflective and rich with ideas, and yes, maybe I want to confuse people a little. If people give me the feedback that I gave them a lot to think about (which the French did), I’m a happy camper. If I can then make a living turning that thinking into action (which I can) I’m an even happier camper.

Oh, and this might be the last post this summer because I’ll be away for a bit. Camping with the family.
I take this happy camper bit quite seriously indeed ;-).

7 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. Merwin Feitsma

    First of all, the presentation and the models in it look beautiful as always.
    However, I was wondering why you ‘firmly believe in pro-active internally driven innovation’ (slide 9). Why is it so important? And why is it so much better than externally driven innovation? Is it really better for an organization? Extrinsic motivation doesn’t prevent the use of brand driven innovation, does it?
    Probably, this is not so important as the methods you show on slide 29 and further, but I was just wondering…
    Oh and, happy camping! :)


    Jul 07, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  2. erik roscam abbing

    First of all: thanks 😉
    The reason I stress pro-active internally driven innovation so much is (and it’s very important) that I believe innovation is too often discussed in the context of ‘keeping up with the rat-race': the world changes by the second. You have to innovate to keep up. Innovate or die. With all due respect to all the companies who try very hard, I think this notion of innovation is fundamentally wrong. It too often leads to me-too products or services, technology push, irrelevant extra features or innovations that lack vision or that have nothing to do with what users find meaningful or valuable.
    Because if innovation is something you feel you have to do, because something (other than your own intrinsic motivations) is causing you to, it’s bound to lack the soul, or the vision, or the deep understanding, or the empathy, that form the essence of really meaningful innovation.
    Call me naive, but I believe we all have ambitions. Aspirations. We want to become better at what we do, and even better at what we’re good at. We want to grow, reach new heights, and make dreams come true. Why should this be any different for organisations?
    I believe in pro-active internally driven innovation, because it’s the only way to ensure that innovation stems from the ambition to grow sustainably, meaningfully and with the purpose to become better, not bigger.

    Epilogue: this does not mean that organisations should operate from an ivory tower, acting solely on the basis of their own aspiration, and not taking into account the world around them and the customer they aspire to create value for. To the contrary: internally driven innovation is bringing out the best in organisations, to the benefit of their customer or end-user. It means you don’t blindly follow market research but you filter it through the lens of your vision on the world. It means you don’t operate on the basis of statistics but on the basis of a deep understanding of what makes your customer tick, and what your role is in creating value for that customer.
    It means you dare to take a stand as an organisation. As Ayn Rand has said: To say “I love you”, one must first be able to say the “I”.


    Jul 07, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  3. Martijn Linssen

    Great preso Erik!

    Beautiful to see the external, re-active being pinpointed and changed to internal, pro-active. Likewise the passive extrinsic moving to active intrinsic

    Neglecting your brand and innovation can do terrible things to your company. Allowing yourself to be passively driven by external factors can have dramatic effects

    Of course it takes time and it could take years (cf. Microsoft) but at a certain point you must either change or die. And both cost a lot of energy, money and effort…

    Jul 07, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  4. Michiel

    Interesting presentation! I bet the French had sufficient data to chew and reflect on.

    I totally agree that companies have to start innovation from within before looking at what they could propose. I wish my company would have this same stance towards innovation and product development. :) I hope that my project will make the people here realize this.


    PS: Very small french correction needed on the 2nd slide: “Bienvenue en Hollande”. The better (and more correct way would be “Bienvenue aux Pays-Bas”) :-)

    Jul 07, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  5. Merwin Feitsma

    Hey Erik,

    That’s a sincere reply and an important addition to your presentation.
    You say you’re naive, but I think that is a good thing. Many of us (designers) are a bit naive and it allows us to dream and hence to not only generate really new ideas, but also to dare to pursue them. However, sometimes we drift away a little too far and we might lose sight of reality. In that reality there is competition and we should be careful to ward off the power of this extrinsic motivator. I believe it keeps you alert and critical towards yourself. Furthermore, it can help to allocate resources to the innovation process. It’s just like sports: when you’re in a match, you’ll probably find yourself running faster than when you’re running on your own.


    Jul 07, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

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this is Erik Roscam Abbing's blog on topics relating to the synergy between branding, innovation and design. Erik is a consultant (, teacher (, and frequent speaker on the topic of Brand Driven Innovation. He is also the author of the book by the same title, to appear in autumn 2010 at For inquiries, contact erik at erik at
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