Innovation today: controversial, clever brands

5-minute read

This is the second part in our series of short articles that explore the ways in which brands are disrupting the status-quo and evolving in the modern world. Here, we discuss how brands divide and conquer by being controversial amongst audiences.

 This is the ‘Beach Body Ready’ campaign by Australian weight loss and protein supplement producer Protein World that caused so much controversy in 2015.

In theory, a move like this should have been awful. In practice, though, it was hugely successful. Amidst the backlash and in the days following its activation, Protein World saw a huge spike in sales that dwarfed their previous figures. More than that, the publicity they received through it will no doubt have afforded them the attention and status required to sustain their position amongst competitors for a long time to come.


Such examples like this demonstrate how innovation is being used by brands to navigate a ‘post-truth’ consumer environment that is truly unpredictable. Indeed, from working with teams and businesses whose pure function is to deliver innovation, as well as researching and understanding the wider network of companies in the creative industry who strive to achieve the same results, we know that innovation is key for business survival today. Companies must stand-out from competitors and continue to be progressive long-term if they want to succeed.


The process for achieving ‘innovation’ is fairly consistent across the board:

  1. Research
  2. Analysis
  3. Insight
  4. Ideation
  5. Design
  6. Delivery

Most companies will personalise this journey and crunch it down into a 3 or 4-step process across brand collateral to make it more accessible. You only need to visit a handful of websites from businesses in the industry to see this. Invariably, though, most paths to innovation will follow this outline (regardless of any IP or jargon colour the description of it that you might come across).

Ultimately, though, what this process achieves is a better understanding of consumer and context. This is imperative in today’s world where the wants and needs of the consumer is constantly evolving. Brands must equip themselves with an arsenal of information so that they can continue to deliver products that appeal to their target markets. Indeed, it is this deep understanding that provides the best foundation for nurturing and growing great new ideas for effective innovation.

The result? Brands are cleverer and more controversial. They are consumer and culture-literate like never before and, in turn, we are seeing a new generation of brand emerge. They are catching up with consumers and getting ahead. Where previously companies reacted to consumer decisions, now they can inform those decisions by providing them with products and services that solve problems that they consumer didn’t even know they had. More than that, with a better understanding of their market, companies can be bolder. They can use research to predict how audiences will react, and can develop strategies that make the most of a highly politicised and sensationalist consumer environment.


I’m a Founding Partner of Bamboo Crowd. I help our clients invest better in people and scale through Engine. I solve recruitment challenges and help our clients source the best talent across operations, business development, programme management, and technology. Ask me about good films, beards and hip hop.