Time to shake up innovation awards?

By Reach Brands

Innovation awards, are they just an excuse to flex the corporate muscle between industry peers OR do they genuinely promote a culture of innovation?

I have been reading with great interest different blogs and opinion pieces which primarily flag up the extreme polar views of the industry! Some feel awards fuel innovation and others feel it serves to fuel already inflated egos!


So what do people think are the reasons for awards and do they believe that awards can be effective in our industry? Why is it that so many awards seem to be all about the industry and nothing to do with the consumers, why is it that most awards rely on applicants and NOT nominations and why are they so costly to enter?

It feels like those that can afford to enter lots of awards have a fair chance of winning – a simple mathematical equation! The win is never dampened though, even if the winner is the only entrant in a category it is still a win and something that can ultimately be used to gently remind clients of the agencies’ worth. However, in my experience most clients are blissfully unaware of these so called ‘prestigious’ awards and although many are measured by effectiveness in the market place, it does not seem to hold much worth in clients’ minds.

It does seem that awards could perform a really useful role. But do they really measure successful innovation? Here are some suggestions for possible alternative criteria:-

  • Get consumers involved, the notion of ‘voted best product of the year’ and voted by consumers has to be the ultimate. In this instance bring on people that really use and interact with products not those deemed as ‘industry experts’ who often are still thinking conceptually or aesthetically.
  • Speed to market – how quickly from the initial idea did it take for the product or service to hit the marketplace.
  • The ‘doh’ award for the most obvious, quick win innovation that was staring everyone in the face but no-one could see it until launched.

As we are in the innovation industry maybe we should also look at how we run our awards. How about:

  • Inexpensive and fast paced awards that take a web based approach and move away from the navel gazing dinner ceremony formats.
  • One of the measurement criteria could be that the process and tools used to develop the innovation should be depicted so it helps to generate best practice for the industry.
  • Award ceremonies that are quick and easy to enter, currently the process is so long and drawn out that many truly innovative companies would not have the time, let alone the money, to enter.

Isn’t it about time we applied innovative thought to the awards we give so they are truly coveted and respected?

By Zoe Tuttle, Strategist at Reach