Strategic Messaging for the Lemelson Foundation
Jerome Lemelson, one of the century’s most prolific inventors and holder of over 600 patents, believed invention and innovation were key to the American dream. Imagining invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time, he and his wife Dorothy established the Lemelson Foundation to inspire the next generations of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs.
With its Invention Education programs, the Foundation has been at the forefront of infusing the spirit, practice and benefits of invention throughout the American school systems and universities, particularly to underserved communities.
The challenge the foundation faced was how to talk about Invention Education in a consistent and compelling way that inspired new support and engagement. In particular, the foundation was motivated to contemporize the concepts of invention and inventors.
The Lemelson Foundation collaborated with Seven November to design and test a values-based messaging platform that would express the promise of Invention Education, motivate and engage stakeholders in education and philanthropy, and ultimately increase access to Invention Education throughout the country.
Looking for linkages
Our discovery process began with internal interviews and materials review, and took us across the country to Boston to talk with some of the nation’s leading STEM educators. In collaboration with our research partners at CAVU Research, we conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with elementary school teachers, college administrators, corporate philanthropists and even a few inventors all with one goal in mind: understand how to best talk about the potential and importance of Invention Education. Our methodology included a national online survey of 400 stakeholders in education, to thoroughly test our draft messaging, value statements, messenger credibility and likely actions.
You say innovation, I say invention
The resulting messaging platform frames a simple but profound concept: inventors are all around us. They are creative problem solvers, learning new skills that will serve them well on whatever paths they choose. They are empowered and empowering, and they are approachable.
Through our testing we uncovered very specific and resonating language around invention, inventive thinking and innovation. We also learned the most credible messengers for Invention Education are the teachers who have experienced it, and the students they serve. And finally we determined the primary communications channels for reaching our stakeholders, and the actions they may be motivated to take in support of Invention Education, allowing us to craft very targeted communications strategies and recommendations.
Through the new messaging and recommendations, the foundation is ready to stand as champions for educating the next generations of inventive problem solvers.