Are innovation and company heritage mutually exclusive?

From a recent RetailWire discussion about company brand positioning: Is there a natural (and unfixable) conflict between innovation and brand heritage? Or can the two reinforce each other? Here’s my opinion:

Achieving relevance to your target consumer does not mean that innovation and heritage are mutually exclusive. You can make an argument (using the example of Disney) that technology has led the company in innovative directions (e.g. Pixar) while staying true to its roots as the leading source of animated films in the world.

Surely the idea of innovation requires new platforms for delivering product, whether it’s live streaming of computer animation or e-commerce sites for formerly bricks-and-mortar retailers. The world is full of failed retailers (Blockbuster comes to mind) who didn’t stay relevant as customer preferences changed.

But another way to think of “heritage” is to define it as consistency of mission and brand position. In that case, “heritage” is not a negative but a core strength. It suggests that a company (retail, CPG or otherwise) knows who it is, and prepares itself to deliver its “brand promise” in new and innovative ways…even in Doug’s own example from the Bose stores.



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