Corporate Eye

11 Phrases That Destroy Brand Innovation

We’ve all sat through meetings where nothing gets done.  For one reason or another, your team is tasked to come up with innovative new brand programs, but one idea after another is shot down. 

Take a look at the 11 phrases that destroy brand innovation below, then ask yourself if you or someone on your team is guilty of saying one (or more) of them.  If so, it’s time to adjust your thinking cap with an eye toward innovation and away from negativity.

1. We tried that already.

This is a big idea killer.  It’s natural over the lifespan of a business that ideas will resurface.  Just because an idea didn’t work in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t be retooled and be a big success in the future.  Consider Apple which was failing in the 1990s only to revive its brand and product line to become a market share threat to Microsoft.  What if Steve Jobs followed the, “we tried that already,” line of thinking?  Would the new Macbook, iPhone or iPod be available today?

2. The executive team (or sales team, finance team, customer service team, etc.) won’t support that.

Want to make a bet?  Every idea has a chance if it’s put together well and presented well.  If you can prove it has a chance to work, then go for it.

3. The technology team can’t build or support that.

The technology team might not want to support something new, but that doesn’t mean they can’t support it.  If you can get executive buy-in, then tech buy-in is right around the corner.

4. We can’t afford that.

A compelling enough argument to the executive team to support a new idea might just get you some more money for your budget.  Otherwise, you might be able to realign your existing budget to make room for a new project.  Don’t say you can’t afford it until you take the time to analyze the numbers and know whether that’s true or not.

5. No one wants that.

How do you know no one wants it?  Don’t assume consumers don’t want something until you ask them and let them try it first.  Take some time to research the market, but don’t let that research become an obstacle (see #10 below).

6. No one else is doing that.

When I hear, “no one else is doing that,” I think “opportunity!”  I don’t care if no one else is doing it or not.  Is there a place for the new idea on the market?  If so, go for it.  What would have happened to Bill Gates if he said, “no one else is doing that,” when he envisioned everyone having a computer on their desks and in their homes all those years ago?

7. The competition already does that.

Can we do it better?  Can we offer something more or a bit different that will make our version of the same thing the competition is doing more appealing to consumers?  Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, as the saying goes.  Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you to jump on the bandwagon and get a bit of that action!

8. We’re not ready for that.

Says who?  An easy way to kill a business is to sit idly by while everyone else moves forward.  Be ready for anything and you’ll succeed.

9. The numbers show it won’t work.

Recalculate.  I need more than a few simple numbers to convince me.  Prove to me it won’t work.  If that’s the case, how can we make it work?  Don’t give up after one round of number crunching.

10. Let’s research it.

In other words, “let’s pretend we’re going to research it, but nothing will ever get done, and the idea will never come to fruition.”  While research is an important part of any new initiative, don’t let it slow you down or stop you unless the results of the research warrant a retooling or abandonment of an idea.

11. Who’s going to take the blame if it doesn’t work?

Sadly, this is what everyone in that meeting room thinks about as soon as a new idea hits the table.  If it doesn’t work, someone is going to end up getting blamed for it.  Because of that, most people fall to a strategy of inaction in order to fly under the radar, and many great ideas fall to the wayside.  It’s imperative that the executive team fosters a spirit of innovation and an environment of learning rather than blame.  How realistic is that?  Probably not that realistic, but it’s nice to dream.

What phrase do you hear all the time that kills brand innovation faster than you can blink?  Leave a comment and share!

Image: Flickr

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.