So that’s a wrap of the Fast Company Innovation Festival! Day 5 saw us a Wieden Kennedy’s New York office, who you probably know best from creating arguably 2018’s most talked about and diversive commercial, discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion in the advertising space.

Overall it’s been an amazing 5 days, listening to and speaking with retailers throughout New York as to what makes them innovative. So now that we’ve come to the end of the conference, what were the overarching themes and what were our key takeaways.

Business as a force of good.

We’ve heard multiple times from numerous companies the push for businesses to be more then profit generating machines. The traditional profit model has changed and social innovation is now a core differentiator between brands and retailers. There’s a push from the community at large expecting businesses to be more socially responsible and accountable.

Want greater customer engagement? Increased customer engagement can come through supporting social issues. Additionally, initiatives around social responsibility have been proven to increase staff engagement levels.

 

The relationship between creativity and innovation.

Creativity is the mental ability to conceptualise / imagine new and unique ideas. Innovation, on the other hand is defined as the process that transforms these forward-thinking new ideas into commercial (i.e. real world) products or services.

Both creativity and innovation go hand-in-hand. We heard from multiple speakers in the creative fields talking about the importance of creativity and that it is impossible to develop a truely innovation organisation if creativity is ignored and stifled. And likewise, without effective processes in place to transform creative ideas into practical / value-added application, creativity is of no commercial value.

But how do you inspire and begin to build creative capital in your organisation? Like artists, businesses and retailers must learn to take risks and not play it safe.

 

The retail store as an extension to online

Over the past 5 days, we’ve also seen a lot of brands with their origins online (for example Brandless and Casper), move into the physical retail space. Additionally, these retailers have turned the store design process on it’s head by developing an experience that is memorable, experiential and creates a physical touchpoint for consumers (all of which online shopping has traditionally failed to do well). Additionally, these brands have used the bricks and mortar experience as a process to provide realtime testing and feedback of it’s customers.

 

If you’ve missed any of our daily recaps from the conference, you can read below:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4