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How to launch a new brand

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Do you ever wonder why you choose one product over another? Do you ever try to work out why names such as Qantas, Virgin, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra or Optus ever got to be household names? Over the years, organisations that have this kind of instant recognition have invested a great deal into brand recognition.

What can you do to increase awareness about your brand?

Eugene Rea, principal of the Elevate Group, says that while there are thousands of products and services out there, there are not that many brands and offers some ideas for coming up with new ones.

“Think about it for a moment: could you turn some of your products or services into brands? Strong brands strengthen the asset value of the company as a whole, and yet branding is frequently under-used and abused,” says Rea.

“Brands generally return better profits because they’re less sensitive to price undercutting. They achieve a level of awareness and customer loyalty.

“Brand equity is a deeper, measurable form of goodwill. It operates on a number of levels and can make its way onto the books as assets that can be bought and sold,” adds Rea.

So what do you need if you want to develop a new product and a new brand? Try these from Rea’s list:

Genuine need

There’s a gaping whole in the market and the customer wants it. Yes, really wants it.

Develop or die

There must be pressure to continually develop new products because the market constantly shifts.

The grass is greener or ‘I want what she’s having’

Possibly the worst reason to approach the new brand development process. It’s based on imitating a successful brand in the same market. So what’s wrong with this?

Other than risking being perceived by your existing customers as a follower rather than a leader, it is also the business practicality that with more entries in the market it simply isn’t profitable any more.
We can do this

We have a range of core competencies and there’s little capital risk. For example, line extensions. Line extensions serve some purposes, like dominating supermarket shelf space, but in many cases distract from the core brand.

Here are some steps that Rea says you should consider:

First, arm yourself with a good understanding of what’s already out there; check store shelves, talk to customers, ask your wife or husband, look in the Yellow Pages, search Google in words and pictures on the internet. Use this stage to explore and discover ideas.

Don’t imagine you will get any valuable new ideas out of consumer research focus groups, because most people find it hard to project into the future. Next year seems like a long way off compared to a year ago, which seems like yesterday. (In Japan, research showed the Sony Walkman would never take off!)

Rather, use research for confirmation of direction. Instead look at things in the real world. What are the repetitive frustrations in the office, or in the home? If you’re in food for example, my wife would cheer something tasty and remotely healthy (and not over-packaged) to put in school lunch boxes. No one has managed this seemingly impossible task yet!

Another short cut to ideas is looking at other markets and categories. In 1985, Bill Jordan of Jordan’s Cereals in the UK came back from America with a muesli crunchy bar bound together with honey.

He grew the company by taking the product to the mass market and it was three years before the big producers caught up. The next big jump in muesli bars didn’t come along until the technology was developed to create soft and chewy bars that didn’t fall apart.

There are visionary people who see opportunity where others only see struggle. There are ideas that jump up and hit you in the face and you can’t believe no one has done them before (I keep notebooks of ideas). It helps if you or your team can think laterally. There are many methods for getting ideas, the trick then is filtering out the good ones.

Once you have some ideas and areas to explore, start to build the team and consider bringing in your creative marketing people. However, for confidentiality, keep the team as small as possible.

The more targeted your product, the greater the ability to build in characteristics that answer their specific needs. Consider the difference between – ‘we can make a sparkling wine, let’s do it’, to ‘we’ve seen a need for a sparkling wine targeted at women 25 to 40 years old, which has romantic love as a focus and is priced at just under $10’.

It’s easy to see the array of questions that get answered immediately. The whole exercise becomes much more cost efficient from pack design to advertising media selection. It formulates the basis of the creative brief.

What’s in a name?

The right name is crucial. Non-marketers often misjudge the value of the right brand name. They name products for over complicated reasons and non-consumer focused agendas.

And the more abstract and difficult your brand name is to pronounce, the more advertising money you will need to get it understood and accepted. Also avoid funny names where the joke may be short lived, like a hair salon called ‘Curl Up and Die’.

Be sure your name and brand design combination takes into account the three vital elements in the equation:

  • The source or sender of the message
  • The message
  • The receiver.

When you apply this simple filter, it’s amazing how it removes some of the subjectivity.

Business analysis

Next, get a good understanding of the logistics and core competencies your business can handle or outsource, as well as distribution, packaging requirements and marketing channels. Then you will be able to put calculated guesses on paper. You’ll want to know if there’s a feasible return on investment (ROI) — be conservative.

If 90 per cent of the dotcoms had been honest with themselves at this point, they would not have started. For retail products the first hurdle is gaining distribution, but an even worse one is hitting a brick wall with the consumer once you have shelf space.

How will you get that vital pull-through and at what cost?

Putting the flesh on the bones

Once we have some directions we continue building prospective brand personalities visually. This is done with draft logos, colours, pack concepts, business cards, etc. and a refinement of the brand idea for each. These ‘look and feel’ schemes put flesh on the bones via ‘creative prototyping’. The real test comes when you line up the prototypes against the competitive set.

Testing the concepts

It’s wise to test these concepts via research to see if they achieve what you set out to. We conducted research for a major rebrand for Keno through a new online method, which delivered a cross between qualitative and quantitative research. It gave a large, well-targeted sample very cost effectively.

However, if you have missed the mark, getting the product in front of people will give you an idea of why. Again, remember Sony Walkman, as a caution.

Practical implementation, pre-launch

The machinations you have to go through to turn the brand idea into a real brand will vary from business to business. As you work through the process the crucial thing is not to lose sight of the core customer insight that the brand is answering. This takes commitment, discipline and continuity of people over time.

Soft launch or hard?

Let’s assume the process has gone well and you’re moving to production. If it’s a service, the staff are trained, the call centre is sorted and the website is created. Do we go out with a big bang or a soft launch?

This depends on different factors:

  • Money
  • The competitive situation
  • In the case of a rebrand, the comfortable transition for existing customers.

Often, smaller, business-to-business type brands can afford to soft launch over a few months.

The answer depends on your individual circumstances, though consider:

  • How much of a leap you are asking the target audience to make in order to understand your brand offer
  • Whether your new product is attacking an established brand. If you are, you have to hit hard and quickly with a ‘take no prisoners’ commitment. You are threatening their lifeblood and they will be hot on your tail with a counter strike.

Either way, don’t make the mistake of thinking that one ad campaign burst will establish the brand. Recognise that brands stand for trust.

Respect is hard earned. TeleOne made the mistake of thinking that piggy backing the awareness of OneTel was a clever strategy, but as they discovered, awareness is only part of the brand equation.

Post launch evaluation

You will have to set a benchmark to measure against and some method of knowing how you’re tracking. Volume, market share, etc. are classic measurements. For services, it’s a much more layered and esoteric interpretation.

Tracking studies can help but unfortunately can be slow and expensive. Better to get into the field and do some litmus testing yourself. You’ll pretty quickly discover what expensive research companies would eventually tell you any way.

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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