Using innovation to power your brand

If you walk through the grocery store you’ll find at least 10 brands manufacturing the same product, many of which you may have never heard of. But what is it that makes some brands stand out and others completely forgettable?
This is the question Product Of The Year , the largest consumer voted award in South Africa for product innovation, attempts to answer every year. These brands have not only established their presence in the market, but also work hard to maintain this presence, reminding and reassuring consumers – that’s what makes a brand innovative, says Preetesh Sewraj (pictured above), CEO and chief innovation analyst at Product Of The Year for South Africa.
Some of the winners include longstanding diaper brand Huggies, South African laundry brand Omo as well as Colgate, winning in the toothpaste category.
Entrepreneural advice from the chief of innovation…
In 2008, Sewraj, 26 at the time, brought the Product Of The Year brand into South Africa and has run it for the past six years. Being young in an industry that seemed to only value and respect older persons, Sewraj worked hard to succeed. As chief innovation analyst, Sewraj analyses branding trends in South Africa and how out-the-box thinking can improve a brand’s sales.
“You have to push yourself forward and have a good argument so you can be recognised” he says.
His advice for young entrepreneurs in the making is that being an entrepreneur is not as difficult as people think. “If you have a good product, a growth mindset and passion, you can execute your idea”.
Empowering the consumer
Product Of The Year not only works to guide consumers to the best products in their market but also rewards manufacturers for quality and innovation. Manufacturers are challenged to prove their efficiency and performance claims by allowing South African consumers to be the judge.
 Sewraj’s 3 principles for branding excellence:

  1. Establish a good product! Unless your product is good, brand innovation won’t matter.
  2. Make sure your product is different to your competitor – there is a difference between invention and innovation. Setting your product apart from anothers ensures that it does not get lost in a sea of similar products.
  3. Keep up brand maintenance – Coca Cola is the perfect example of a strong brand that keeps their market by staying true to their brand and finding creative ways to talk to their consumers.
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