‘Give your competition more credit and rethink innovation’ says Google’s Kirk Perry on building brands in a digital world

Brands should give their competition more credit and rethink what innovation means in order to succeed in a digital world, president of brand solutions at Google, Kirk Perry, has said.

Speaking at Dmexco in a keynote spot, Perry admitted that during his time working at P&G as president of global family care, he was quick to dismiss the work of the FMCG giant’s competition; something he said has “led to the demise” of many companies over the years.

“We’re all trained to focus on delighting our users and consumers and also understanding the competition. But at the same time for me I would always look at my competition and say, ‘why are they doing that? There’s no way I’d do that, that can’t be an insight, they mustn’t be reading their marketing mix properly’.”

He said that he made “every excuse in the world” if the competition did something he hadn’t thought of.

“I probably thought that it was a pretty good idea down deep and I was mad because I didn’t get there first, but I didn’t give them the credit they were due… [you need to] keep your eyes open for great ideas.”

Speaking about innovation, Perry said that brands must approach it in a new, different way in order to benefit.

“Reframe innovation and rethink what it actually means,” he advised. “I was trained to think about product and commercial [in a] very segmented [way]. ‘How much is sustaining innovation and how much is transformational?’ The truth is it isn’t about product or commercial it’s about how to think bigger and how to think bigger about innovation.”

Perry added that that he was previously the victim of “this thing called the grass is greener”, admitting that he used to say he could “transform a category” in three or four years, but the aspiration didn’t happen because he didn’t approach innovation in the correct way.

“Being rapidly disruptive now is key,” he concluded, before suggesting that brands should “dare to be audacious” and take risks, pointing to innovations at Google such as driverless cars and contact lenses that notify diabetics of their blood sugar levels.

“At Google the risk taker is rewarded you might swing and miss but at the end of the day… you get rewarded for that.”

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