Taco Bout Innovation

Taco Bell as an industry innovator? The idea hadn't crossed my mind—until now. I do remember some chatting about their molten chocolate cupcake on Twitter a few years back. But I didn't considered that as an innovation.

But hold up. They hold themselves to the standard of a highly innovative company. 

As you likely know, I am a marketing and branding (and many other things) geek. And, I'm riveted by the marketing insights I can glean from beyond the walls of financial services. An obsession that the Taco Bell CMO, Taylor Montgomery, evidently shares. 

“I watch Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and I just had this moment,” Taco Bell CMO Taylor Montgomery said in an interview. “I believe that we’re one of the most innovative companies in the world. So, if Apple can get more people interested than have an iPhone, can we do something?”

In a spectacle tailored for their super fans — yes, they exist — Taco Bell unfolded an event in Las Vegas, dazzling with celebrities, music, and a vibrant display of neon. They even announced TBX, a spotlight for budding chefs to reimagine the Crunchwrap. 

The menu's innovation? A synergy of flavors from Cinnabon, Cheez-It, Mountain Dew, and Tajin spice. The standout for me? They've joined up with two Portland-based firms featuring Salt & Straw's chocolate ancho ice cream taco fusion and a fiery twist with Secret Aardvark hot sauce.

This isn't only about Taco Bell's menu. 

Two things struck me. Asking a simple question, "If they can do it, why not us?" Imagine sitting with your team, brainstorming the next breakthrough. Why not venture beyond the financial service industry's traditional barriers? Ask yourselves, "What would our version of the Apple Developer’s Conference embody?"

The other piece? Collaboration absolutely drives innovation. 

FWIW: Here are some ideas I’ve floated in the past:

Need to get your CRM in order? Host an internal hackathon day where everyone comes together and focuses on that tech for a full day. You'll absolutely get some sh$t done!

Bring energy to your next event? Hire a DJ who can help keep the tunes spinning and music flowing in between sessions. Guess what? You can do this for online events as well. 

Want a completely unique perspective? Consider hiring someone with an art degree as a summer intern. See where they can bring creativity and play into your client experience.

Related: How To Make Your Audience Say, “Oh No, I’m Hooked”