Branding for me is a critical, foundational piece in every marketing strategy. It brings clarity and it answers questions from the marketplace before they are ever even asked. If you don’t have clarity here, the marketplace will smell it and challenge you for it. That’s why before you even think of launching a brand you need to make sure you get these 9 things right first.
9 Things to Get Right Before Launching a Brand
Having worked with companies for years helping create and/or establish their brands the following 9 things sum up what needs to be ticked off the list before you even consider launching a brand. This will guide you towards a more effective and ultimately profitable brand.
1 – Start by Understanding what Branding is.
I’ve written extensively on this already so let’s not rehash it here.
It’ll help you be more effective when launching a brand.
2 – Position Yourself First; then Brand
There’s no point doing something everyone else is doing.
You’ve got to find something that the market wants and that you can deliver on better than anyone else. And of course, you’ve got to be able to make money on it.
There is always a way to position yourself.
There will always be a point of difference.
And, there is always a way to be Remarkable – if you want to know how, read this.
Look How These Guys Found their Remarkable!
Both these product lines were considered generic and commoditised but with vision and clarity both Dyson and Dualit transformed people’s perceptions.
This doesn’t just apply to products either.
I’ve worked with a retailer of generic products and helped them reposition their offering by focusing on the journey that each customer takes with them through their lifetime. That was something different.
I’ve helped a hairdresser embrace the atmosphere they naturally created without even realising it and helped them focus on a specific niche that wasn’t being catered for.
I’ve helped a construction company find their point of difference in how they could prove their deliverability by formalising their approach to every project and even a smile had a hand in this particular positioning.
The answers are always there. They are not always obvious. But they are always there.
The clue will always be found in that little thing that stuck in your mind when you left them. The way they made you feel or something small they said.
You just have to look for it.
For more on this read 6 Steps to Positioning your Business to be more Successful – it’ll help you build a process around it.
3 – Create Some Brand Rules
When you’re on the entrepreneurial journey it’s easy to get distracted.
Sometimes we are distracted by the normal constraints of business.
Other times we get distracted by how we choose our customers.
It’s useful early on then to create some brand rules for the business. Now we’re not talking about the brand guidelines you’d get from your brand designer yet i.e. colour, font etc.
Focus on the Things you Believe in!
We’re talking about the things you believe in, your core passions in the business; the strategic choices you make that define who you are.
In food it could be about how you’ll source your ingredients, it could be about making your product accessible and how you’ll price to accommodate that and so on.
These rules are there to guide you and help you create a philosophy for how you build your business.
It’s what you stand for and as I said before, if you create them at the start you won’t go off track.
You will find that some rules are hard to keep at the start because of economic constraints. Identifying these early on allows you to consciously choose which rules are most important and where compromises can be made in the short term while you scale.
These compromises can then be addressed once you do in fact scale.
Innocent Smoothies chose to address their packaging later in their growth while they opted to source their orange juice in accordance with their brand rules right from the start.
Just do what you can, when you can!
4 – Know Your Story.
You’ve got to be able to talk about your business, your brand and indeed yourself.
When people are interested they want to know more. So you’ve got to prepare for that.
Two Door Cinema Club are named after a movie theatre in their hometown of Bangor, Northern Ireland. Since the trio are huge film fans, singer Sam Halliday suggested naming the band after the nearby Tudor Cinema. In his pitch, however, Halliday misspoke and said “Two-door” instead of “Tudor.” The name stuck because the members agreed “Two-door” sounded better.
And then there’s The Beatles…
John Lennon suggested the name to his bandmates in April 1960, while walking along Gambier Terrace, near Liverpool Cathedral. He later claimed to have thought of it as a variation on The Crickets, Buddy Holly’s band, changing the spelling from ‘Beetles’ to ‘Beatles’ so as to create a double meaning with a play on the word ‘beat’. But both Paul and George remember the name deriving from the Marlon Brando film The Wild ones, in which Lee Marvin says to Brando: ‘Johnny, we’ve been looking for you. The beetles have missed you.’ As Paul McCartney later discovered, ‘Beetles’ is slang for motorcycle girls. Read more about how other bands picked their names here.
Do you know your story?
Does everyone in your team know your story?
Now make that story easy to tell so others can share it.
5 – Get a Tagline
A tagline is useful marketing real estate that you can use to frame the visual for your brand.
It is informed by your positioning, your brand rules and your story.
Once you’ve got these cracked you should be able to sum it all up, in five words or less. This is your tagline.
Here’s some examples of taglines past and present that tell the story or have told the story.
In some cases the tagline crystallised the story so well, it was no longer needed.
That’s the goal here to create a story that is embraced by your customers so deeply you no longer have to spell it out for them.
6 – Invest in Design
‘Good Design is Good Business’
Thomas Watson Jr
This statement is more true today than ever before and the SVID – Swedish Industrial Design Foundation has published research that proves that Companies that invest in design are more profitable.
Brand Design needs to be done by brand designers.
They understand brands. They know how and when they will be applied and will seek your story in order to express it visually. They know what’s involved in launching a brand.
This is not the job for a student, a local print house or online bulk call for freelance quotes.
There is a place for graphic work like this but that space is not in brand development.
Brand design requires insight, imagination, understanding and experienced talent.
It is worth your investment.
It will yield rewards that you may only comprehend years later. Invest in it.
7 – Think Monochrome
This is a simple one. One of the outputs of a great Brand Designer is to ensure that the brand can be used in monochrome.
It’s the first visual test of a great brand.
If it has impact here then we know it has a chance.
8 – Make a Commitment
It’s something that’s asked of us in so many spheres of our lives; our relationships, our work and even our driving.
It’s also a basic requirement for successful brands.
Before you launch your brand make sure you remove every piece of the old brand.
Don’t leave that old sign on your warehouse and please don’t think the old stationery can be recycled as scrap paper for internal use.
You’re just sending the wrong signals to your internal marketplace.
Make it clean. Cut ties with your old brand and start fresh.
9 – Make it Consistent but Don’t Bore us to Death
There’s nothing worse than having the same conversation with someone every time you meet them. Relationships need to evolve and so too does your brand message.
Yes; we want consistency so we know it’s you we’re talking to but we’d like to imagine that we could learn a little more about you with every encounter.
The trick is to ensure that every marketing piece whether it’s a website, facebook page, folder, piece of stationery etc can stand on it’s own and that it delivers on the purpose for which it is intended.
There should also be something slightly unique to every marketing piece so that it can add something to the story you want to tell.
That way your customer will want to read everything and see everything because the more they see, the more they know about you.
It’s like dating. You wouldn’t take someone to the same restaurant, eat the same food, tell the same jokes, have the same conversations every time you meet them – would you?
You’d soon bore them to death and never see them again.
So think of your brand as a story that gets to unfold for your customers every time they come in contact with it.
You want them to look forward to the next chapter and have them want to keep turning the pages.
That’s an engaged customer and one you want to keep.
And isn’t that ultimately what you want?
Once you’ve launched your brand and had it going long enough – Measure it against these Top Ten Traits of the World’s strongest brands.