Launching a new brand into the world is a complicated process that involves a great deal of planning. John F Kennedy of Wildbore & Gibbons LLP into London looks into some of the key issues
Launching a mission into space is a very public event that is the culmination of research, investment, planning and much debate and deliberation for all the key teams involved. A brand launch can be examined in a similar way. Like our space mission a new brand launching will also be scrutinized intensely by everyone in the market place– the media, the competition, the possible new buyers and existing customers of the company. If we are sitting at Mission Control (Cape Kennedy?) what is the process we have been through in order to get to this point?

Market Research is one of the crucial areas that can determine the success of a brand. Research into customer views and opinions may be never be the exact science we wish it could be but an understanding of what clients and potential clients value and will actually buy can lead to useful insights – to steer the crew piloting the brand in the right direction.

Research and reports into existing brands, the potential competition and how a new brand or product may be perceived when it is available as another “option” for the buyer will always be a core area to consider. We are not rational economic people –as economists have rediscovered frequently in the last few years – but the opinions of potential customers and existing buyers loyal to certain brands offer significant information for the brand strategist.

There are criticisms that over-reliance on market research and client feedback can lead to brands developing “bland” products which are not differentiated enough in the market place – even though the market was instrumental in helping create them. A collaborative approach with key advocates and existing users can be very helpful but can also stifle innovation.

At this research and reconnaissance phase it is often common to ignore the key element of brand protection. Registering a Trade Mark and protecting the brand before it has a market presence will be core to its future value. Trade Marks are the legal protection and foundation on which great brands can grow, flourish and develop value. So often it is left late – when either another Trade Mark is discovered after much investment or a competitor objects to the new name and logo. The new brand may have great value – it is vital to achieve legal protection in the key market places before launch. Brand Protection is a crucial area to consider as the new successful brand could be a target for copy cat brands which can tarnish the developing reputation on a great brand.

In 2017 the opportunities for brands to grow in new and emerging markets is wider than ever – new galaxies are opening up for the boldest brands! The risks may also be considerable as the new brand can be examined and market tested in so many new ways.

Product “feel”, brand “experience”, brand “engagement,” there seem to be experts providing advice and guidance on all the touch point issues that the growing brand has to contend with.

The risks for any company launching a new brand also appear to be greater as markets become more diverse and consumers in every market develop a higher level of sophistication about what they demand.

Brand authenticity is an area of particular fascination. A brand has to be differentiated to attract new customers or to be able to charge a premium price but increasingly we see consumers examining brands for their “authenticity.”

Is the authentic brand consistent within every sphere it touches?

The market place, the employees who make it, the stakeholders, the supply chain, the product quality, responsibility, sustainability, the network of support the list can grow as the brand expands!

Customers can be loyal and tremendous advocates of any new brand or new version of a brand – the “super user” the “early adopter” can be useful market developers to help drive a new brand. However poor service, poor quality and slow responsiveness can cost the brand reputation, sales and profits early it the life cycle.

Managing the brand experience is therefore the challenge of the times for the new brand.

Branding is now a social experience – we have moved from broadcasting a message to becoming more interactive and engaging more comprehensively with feedback from customers.

Using the feedback of key advocates or high profile influencers can be challenging but also more powerful than traditional advertising and marketing.

Key points

Listen to and engage with customers and potential customers

Use the data collected to provide insights and inspirations

Build relationships not product sales

Solve customer problems and create benefits

Create a truly authentic brand experience

Create a positive population of brand advocates and influencers who engage with your customers and provide useful feedback and data for more engagement and better relationships.

Protect your brand with a legal foundation to safeguard value and future business prosperity.

A solid launch pad will enable your new brand to rocket into the new space in the market place. Guiding your brand and managing its flight is then a combination of continual information gathering, innovation ,technology, feedback and consistent application of your brand principles.

John F Kennedy BSc F IDM

February 2017