Developing a new brand strategy is not a task to be taken lightly. If done right, brand strategy development includes market research, evaluation of internal capabilities and the external environment, and collaboration of stakeholders to finalize the brand platform. Let’s say you’ve gone through this process and have a differentiated brand promise and have determined the brand perceptions you would like to hold in the mind of your target audience. What you do next can either justify the time, effort and expense of developing the brand platform or call the entire process into question. Here are three key steps you can take to ensure a successful brand launch.
Pre-Launch: Socialize the Brand Internally
Brand strategy is developed with input from various stakeholders in the organization, typically representing company leadership. For a company to truly establish a differentiated brand, employees at all levels of the organization need to understand the brand and embrace it. An effective way to ensure the brand’s adoption is to hold internal brand cascading sessions.
In these sessions the brand strategy is presented to employees from all functional areas of the organization. After learning the background of the brand strategy, employees then brainstorm how they can bring the brand to life in their everyday activities. These ideas are then evaluated by management to establish a workable number of initiatives—ideally five or fewer—that functional areas will execute. This process not only educates everyone in the organization about what the brand stands for, but also helps employees take ownership of the brand because they have generated ideas to operationalize the brand in their functional areas.
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Launch: Make a Splash
Nothing will cause target audiences and internal stakeholders to second-guess a new brand strategy like a weak rollout. By comparison, a strong brand launch sends the message that the organization is fully committed to the new brand strategy. Tactics to implement a high-impact brand launch include:
1. Holding a launch event. If in a centralized location, one large launch event may be appropriate. If your organization has multiple locations, coordinate simultaneous events. Create a press release and invite the press to attend the event.
2. Converting all touch points to the new brand identity. This is not a small task – most people don’t realize all the places the brand identity lives until this process starts. Give yourself plenty of time.
3. Maximizing momentum. A brand launch is an excellent opportunity to capture mindshare with your target market. Coordinate communications such as advertising, social media, email and automated marketing.
Post-Launch: Maintain Momentum
Take advantage of the energy created by the launch to execute an effective integrated marketing communications plan for the new brand. While launch communications often focus on the core story or brand promise, post-launch messaging can be more detailed. In this phase, communications should support the brand pillars to further develop the perceptions you want to create.
It is important to maintain momentum internally as well. Communicate the performance goals that were established for the new brand and provide updates on progress toward those goals. That way, employees can see the outcome of their efforts and stay motivated. Ensure that employees are living the brand by evaluating performance on the initiatives developed in the pre-launch bring-the-brand-to-life exercise.
Creating a robust brand platform is an involved process requiring a significant investment of time and money. Make sure the effort is worth it by developing a full launch plan that considers internal and external stakeholders and consistently reinforces the brand promise and brand pillars at all touch points.