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Really Disruptive Idea? Here's How to Make It Go Mainstream

The best, most audacious new ideas aren't worth anything unless customers are open to them. Pave the way to acceptance with these tips.

The significance of a particular innovation depends on the brand that carries it to the market. Think about it: A sports car wouldn't be the best vehicle to market new safety technology. But a Volvo? That makes more sense.

"Without brands that consumers trust, the story of any innovation is incomplete," writes Niraj Dawar, author and professor of marketing at the Ivey Business School in Canada, in the Harvard Business Review. "In other words, brands are just as critical to innovation success as are new products." 

Dawar says that entrepreneurs need to be aware of how other brands can help great ideas have a wider impact. He says when WikiLeaks started, its breaking stories weren't getting any attention. But once those stories were reported in The New York Times, WikiLeaks gained traction. With your next big idea in mind, read three things Dawar says every trustworthy brand must do to get traction:

Reduce customer's risk.

Buying the latest innovation can be expensive, but a trusted brand can help more consumers believe in the innovation's worth. "American consumers are willing to try a finger-print sensor on the iPhone from Apple, but might not be so eager to try one from Huawei," Dawar writes. "Similarly, we will soon find out if the fear of ridicule when wearing a set of computer-enabled glasses is somewhat reduced when the glasses are from Google."

Give innovation meaning.

Every innovation needs a home, but where that home is depends on the target customers and the message the new product is trying to communicate. "Suspension systems developed by Volkswagen engineers make more sense in an Audi, a brand known for its comfort, than in a Skoda, an economy brand," he writes. "Similarly, a quick lace-up system on Rockports would be interpreted as adding to convenience and comfort, while the same system would connote performance and speed to action on a pair of Nike shoes."

Pick the right partner to make it go mainstream.

Well-known brands have the ability to take a new technology to the masses, give it credibility, and normalize a new product. "MP3 players were invented as the MPMAN by Saehan Information Systems of Korea, but it wasn't until the iPod was launched that the market truly took off," he writes. Dawar says that innovations need trusted names or else they can "fall flat." "Brands facilitate consumer acceptance and pave the market path for innovations," he says.

Last updated: Nov 18, 2013

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter,

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported on the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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