We built a brand to shepherd an association through a transformation they were already preparing for. As a legacy association founded in 1938, the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) has historically served Chief Technology Officers and R&D leaders from large U.S.-based manufacturing companies – those in charge of innovation management that led to new growth. Through the decades, innovation leadership and practices have changed dramatically with talent and functions becoming more distributed, and emerging industries bringing new models and methodologies into the mix. The term “industrial” became anachronistic and off-putting to the many of the audiences IRI served and engaged. Furthermore, the association’s portfolio of offerings had become stale, and in some cases, irrelevant. For a member-driven organization that primarily delivers value through highly participatory programs, this scenario was detrimental.
Armed with robust data and a wealth of experience, and through the extensive teaming of staff and volunteer leaders, IRI spent 18 months responding to market changes and audience needs in an effort to develop an entirely new value proposition for innovation leaders. They sought out Mekanic in preparation to launch an entirely new organization and had a palate for a rebrand on another level. A very exciting challenge for our team!
We started by uncovering the perceptions of those involved in the heavy lifting, as well as members, non-members, and organizational partners to better understand the motivations, desires, and barriers to participating in IRI. Our team conducted substantial market research to analyze a very crowded space of competing forces positioned to serve innovation leaders. These insights, and numerous rounds of creative concepting, led to a differentiated brand voice that aligned with the vision of a transformed organization. A new name emerged – the Innovation Research Interchange – that kept the reputable acronym while reflecting a modern and inclusive organization, and one attractive to leaders of all ages. We continued our work to position the suite of new offerings, and created complementary sub-brand names that aligned with the brand tone, identity, and story. A visual identity was shaped by the organization’s promise to advance the field of innovation management through high-level interchanges of knowledge, experiences, research, trends, and training opportunities. IRI launched its rebrand at a highly-attended annual Member Summit with an energizing video and on-stage delivery of the story behind the sea change. The well-received debut was supported with brand adoption materials that were provided to the membership, both to encourage pride in their profession and guide the way in which they speak about the new IRI.
The SPRING initiative helps innovation leaders improve their understanding of the external world and its impact on innovation. IRI selects, curates, and analyzes trends and their impact on innovation leadership, and then provides members a range of opportunities to access and apply these findings – from accessing broad insights at an annual conference, to participation in specialized workshops catered to industries, to coordinating customized consults that reveal the specific impact a trend will have on an organization. The name SPRING has multiple meanings: the source of knowledge; regeneration of “next” practices; and the ability for IRI members to leap forward and stay in the lead.
TRACK is designed to improve individual learning. Its centerpiece is a self-directed program, through which innovation team members can identify their strengths and gaps in competencies and create personal development plans utilizing resources identified by IRI. The name TRACK conveys forward movement and has multiple meanings in relation to the offering itself. TRACK meets users where they are in their career trajectory sets team members on the right track to develop in the ways they need to. Managers and HR directors can look at a team’s collective competencies to see how teams are tracking for performance and pinpoint areas for improvement and augmentation.
PILOT helps innovation leaders identify, understand, and generate best practices in a timely and useful fashion, through research led by IRI and powered by its members in working groups. The research processes used in PILOT are agile, resilient, and designed to deliver results in three to twelve months. The name PILOT directly relates to the experimentation approach applied in working groups, and it reflects elevation, movement, and charting flight paths.