Does Innovation Mean Extravagance?

Does Innovation Mean Extravagance?

A couple of months ago, I was talking to the founder of a startup about various marketing strategies that he could use in the coming weeks. We were spitballing ideas, but nothing really exciting was being brought to the table. That’s when I said, “These have all been done before. Try for something innovative and different.” [We discuss this topic in a webinar posted here].

His startup is in an extremely competitive market and his brand needed innovation to stand out from the oversized crowd. In turn, he said, “No, no. We don’t have the budget for anything like that.”

I’ll admit his response shocked me a bit. My friend was definitely implying that anything innovative would have to be extravagant and expensive. Is that really true? Does innovation mean extravagance?

Innovation does not mean extravagance. In fact, there is a huge difference between the two. Even by definition they are completely dissimilar. Here’s how I explained it to my founder friend.


If this were Twitter, I’d be using the #nerd hashtag right now because I’m about to quote the dictionary. Innovation is the act or process of inventing or introducing something new; a new invention or way of doing something (A new method). It means keeping things FRESH and bringing something new to the table, while drawing attention to your brand when everyone else is reinventing the wheel.


Extravagance means excessive or wasteful spending of money; the exaggerated or flamboyant nature of something. Yah, we all knew that! We all know it means spending a ridiculous amount of money to launch something that is completely over the top. It’s about drawing attention with flashy lights and big signs. Las Vegas and Paris Hilton are extravagant.

Not Equals

Innovation and extravagance are not equals. Innovations can be small, modest and inexpensive. Even coming up with a small twist on how something is done works. A few years ago, brands began buying ad space differently. On the same website, they purchased ad space down the right-hand side and ad space along the top. They began designing ads that would interact with each other, which drew more attention. There was no additional spending or extravagance here. Brands simply cut down on the overall volume of ads so that they could purchase two ad spaces on highly relevant websites.

The great thing about innovation is that you don’t need a ton of money to throw at it. Innovation is about the uniqueness of the idea. The idea will market itself if it is compelling enough.

My startup friend ended up experimenting with blogging and newsletters, an area that was relatively untouched by his competitors. The innovation went off without a hitch (and without the extravagance)!

Which do you have more faith in, innovation or extravagance? Which do you see brands employing most often?

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