What is an innovative company?


We ran a straw poll last week to see which companies people considered to be innovative. In fact, we asked ‘who are the most innovative companies you can think of?’

Although not scientifically designed, we wanted to find out whether ‘innovative’ is conferred on a business as a result of them actually being innovative or saying they are.

Our sample ranged in age from 14 to 50 and are exclusively start-ups. These are some of the samples’ characteristics:

Evenly split across male and female, entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, some bootstrapping, some funded, some working on new ventures in parallel to holding down a job. A mixture of offerings ranging from child or adult-targeted products, SaaS, technology, service vendors, subscription and online sales. In other words, a broad subject profile.

What did we learn?

Our sample demonstrated polar attitudes depending on their own condition. Those with a tight focus on getting their business off the ground tended to suggest the more usual suspects. Their need to stay dedicated to their short-term goals made them temporarily inclined to refer to their experience and be slightly more introspective.

People at an earlier stage in their product and VP design and had more scope to look around them more broadly and didn’t rely on market messages to tell them who was innovative.

Companies who advertise have the highest recall. Whether, or not, innovation really is demonstrated across their product range, recall reflected the messages in the market place. Big hitters are Amazon, Apple and Google. No surprise there except that Amazon’s product names were referenced specifically. Otherwise, the brand mentions were generic.

Among the other brands that were mentioned more than once, sit social media and sports brands. One thing that does stand-out and flagged by AirBnB is that the companies working in the access economy and experience are starting to come through.

This is not supposed to be a comprehensive reference point but it is something we do regularly just to test the temperature of markets in a very granular way.

Here’s the list along with the number of votes per company:

  • Adidas 11 http://www.adidas.co.uk
  • Apple 111111 https://www.apple.com/uk
  • AirBnB 11 https://www.airbnb.co.uk
  • Amazon 11111 Amazon, Prime Air, Dash, Echo Look, Alexa
  • Balance magazine 1 http://balance.media
  • BMW 1 https://www.bmw.co.uk/en/index.html
  • CalAmp 1 http://www.calamp.com
  • Coca Cola 1 http://www.coca-cola.co.uk
  • Disney 1 https://www.disney.co.uk
  • Dyson 1 https://www.dyson.co.uk/en.html
  • Facebook 11 https://www.facebook.com/FacebookUK
  • Fitbit 1 https://www.fitbit.com/uk/home
  • Google 111 https://www.google.co.uk
  • Graze 1 https://www.graze.com/uk
  • Ghdhair 1 https://www.ghdhair.com
  • Gtech 1 http://www.gtech.co.uk
  • HISBe 1 http://hisbe.co.uk
  • Innocent 1 http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk
  • Lego 1 https://shop.lego.com/en-GB/
  • Library of things 1 https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk
  • Marvel 1 http://marvel.com
  • Microsoft 1 https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/
  • Misguided 1 https://www.missguided.co.uk
  • NASA 1 https://www.nasa.gov
  • Netflix 11 https://www.netflix.com/gb/
  • Nike 11 https://www.nike.com/gb/en_gb/
  • Nintendo 1 https://www.nintendo.co.uk
  • OOHO 1 http://www.oohowater.com
  • SpaceX 1 http://www.spacex.com
  • Spotify 1 https://www.spotify.com/uk/
  • Starbucks 1 https://www.starbucks.co.uk
  • Telematics Pro 1 http://www.telematicspro.co.uk
  • Tesla 11 https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/new
  • Uber 1 https://www.uber.com/en-GB/
  • Whatsapp 1 https://www.whatsapp.com
  • Youtube 1 https://www.youtube.com

We’ve supplied UK domains as our sample was exclusively UK based.

Seth Godin reflects our feelings about these findings “Almost nothing in our civilization is merely the result of direct experience. We rely on scouts and technologists and journalists to tell us what it’s like over there, to give us a hint about what to expect next, and most of all, to bring the insights and experiences of the larger world to bear on our particular situation.” For further reading have a look at this blog from his own web site.

Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation justified. It’s what we do.