Two simple paths to brand innovation.

The relationship between any product and its customer can be broken down into a series of steps starting with desire and ending with consumption. However the number of steps and the level of consumer involvement at each step differs for every product. Once you understand all the steps and the role of each, two forms of innovation can take place.

1. Remove Steps from the Process. This is the option that gets all the ink. Making things simpler for customers is the most basic form of innovation. Take a walk down the beer aisle and you’ll see what we mean. The twist off cap and the fridge pack are two examples. These innovations were born from the search for inefficiencies or unnecessary motions that could be removed from the process.

2. Add Steps to the Process. Although often overlooked, savvy marketers realize it can sometimes be beneficial to add steps to the process. Trader Joe's, Target and Fresh Market actually added an extra step for beer customers by allowing them to assemble their own six-packs. It takes more time and adds complexity to the shopping process. But it creates new value for customers.

So, there you go. Two simple paths to innovation. Now you give it a shot.