On the back of my business card is a quotation from Nick Nagraponte. It goes like this, “Incrementalisation is the enemy of innovation”. It’s the cause of much conversation and not because people think it’s a conventional piece of wisdom but more because they want to know what ‘incrementalisation’ means. I placed it on the card because in terms of marketing it is an issue close to my heart.

By definition ‘incrementalism’ is, ‘something added or gained; addition; increase’ thus it stands to reason that for something to be added, something must already exist. Nagraponte suggests that adding and increasing to an existing ‘something’ is neither new or innovative, and to consider it so renders it the “enemy”.

Here’s how it works in practice. Mr. Loinchop opens a butchers shop; he asks a graphic artist to create a brand; using his creativity the Graphic creates the brand by developing an image and as is the standard practice with unknowing Graphics he offers three examples. I’ll bet London to a brick that the final logo features elements from all three examples – now we have a hybrid. Result? Innovation has disappeared and what is left is a weak version of something that was supposed to be original.

“This is all very well.” I hear you say, “But what in heaven’s name has it got to do with my business?” The answer depends very much on how you value your business and indeed your positioning. First let me say that’s perfectly okay to use hybrids – not ideal but okay. On the odd occasion, to assist the client and when absolutely necessary, we use hybrid design, mostly when we do not have a choice. Usually it’s about cost, because innovation, new concepts, fresh thinking costs more. It’s obvious that testing, conceptualising and discovering new ways of thinking takes more time than placing bits and pieces together to form a hybrid.

It’s really strange, but all the great compliments we get about our work are related directly to innovative material, the work that costs much more and is unique. We never get accolades for hybrids.

At the heart of the problem is a simple philosophy. New, inventive, ground breaking advertising, branding and marketing comes at a price. Great work that communicates your business in line with its strategic requirements has a value and you can talk till the cows come home about cheap marketing but you can guarantee that ‘cheap’ means ‘temporary’.

The solution is simple, before you see your marketer or agency, decide what you what objectively, decide what you want to spend and communicate it. After you’ve finished, ensure that you understand what you’ll get for your dollar spent and don’t expect originality if you’re not prepared to pay for it.

Hybrid is fine for a quick inexpensive fix but originality of thought has a different result and thus it’s worth more. The glue that holds great, sustained marketing and advertising together, is super glue and a little tube goes a
long way.