The value of the companies in the top one hundred big corporate brands are up as much 129% in value (Apple) and down as much as 16% (Nokia), according to Interbrands’ research. If you looked at these conveniently competing companies, you might say it has to do with innovation. Samsung is up 40%, so that too would speak to innovation’s heavy hand in creating corporate wealth.

What if innovation is the single greatest factor in attracting and retaining customers? It would mean there is nothing more important to a brand than the conscious undertaking of self-criticism, the lack of being complacent, and never milking the old thing rather than stepping up to risk doing the new thing.

New of course, isn’t enough. There is a museum of losers in Ohio (the patron place of beta testing fast moving consumer goods, like spaghetti sauce). The museum is filled with new and improved products that were launched, and then crashed for lack of any takers. These are products like salmon scented baby wipes and French onion soup mix with candied soy cheese. Actually, those aren’t real products but they are good placeholders for the forlorn innovations displayed at the museum.

Just like big brands your personal brand value will likely increase if you innovate in a meaningful and sustainable way, with your customers unmet needs in mind. For consultants and business owners, that often means innovating YOU, perhaps along with products and services. For employees and jobseekers, it means focusing on you and the company (and its customers) you keep (or aspire to keep).

Great innovation is at the crossroads of your underutilized capacity and underserved market needs.

If you have taken an assessment like the Gallop Strengthfinders test or DISC, you have a really good idea of your capacity. It might be time to look at what you have been hiding or holding back while you have been trading on qualities that feel most comfortable to you.

Here’s an example. My business partner Famous Alice Linesch has begun writing an email marketing campaign, with 100 emails in the series. She is by training a graphic artist, with decades of experience and success. She never wrote copy. She was a creative director who worked with writers and producers, as a great “big idea” person. Her own work was largely visual and she works in every media.

But in the absence of a proven writer available for a new campaign we wanted to launch, Alice started waking up even earlier in the morning (and she is a 6:30 AM bike ride by the beach person, already). She has now racked up 45 emails: stunning, perfect, funny, smart, interesting, content rich-with-an-attitude emails. She says it’s like waking up twenty years after college and finding out she can sing opera, professionally. It feels great.

Her personal brand is hugely more valuable. Our enterprise is more agile and hence more valuable. And, my life is enriched because she reads her newest emails to me at some point every day. I laugh, applaud, appreciate and marvel at her talent. As an internal “client” of hers, I feel relieved, grateful and filled with trust in her ability to lead.

What does your company need, or your prospects and clients need, that you are not providing, but could? How could your personal brand be re-defined, better recognized and rewarded by innovating on what you currently deliver? What is your version of waking up and finding out you can sing opera: professionally?

What’s the risk you have not been willing to take that could transform your career or business? Let me know and I will provide some feedback for you. Email [email protected]. Subject line: Risk.


Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen