4 Tough Questions To Ask When Launching a Brand

October 8, 2014 Bethany Shepard

465136497Launching a brand in a lot of ways is like getting married. A lot of logistics, a lot of money and a lot of love. Some thrive and some fail. 

Dating experts and long-lasting married couples always note that communication is crucial. The same goes for a brand launch.

When there's so much on the line both financially and emotionally, no brand can afford to neglect asking some simple yet profound questions. I'll address these questions from a brand strategy perspective with the hope of bringing the puppy love of your brand back to reality.

Easy on the trigger

In the heat of moment (or in this case in the heat of the aha!), we can often lose focus when we feel passionately about our idea, product or cause. We feel invincible and we feel that the world is our oyster and is practically begging for our brand. They need us, right?

Well, truth is the world is much less rosy. 

So before you pull the trigger, start manufacturing, and buying up ad space, stop and ask your team these 4 tough questions: 

1) Do we have the right people to make this really work? 

Brands are human. They serve people, and they're comprised of people. It's humanity that truly dictates where a brand succeeds and fails. So–within your organization, do you have the skills, mindset, passions, and culture that you need to make this brand win in the marketplace? The most successful brands have a mix of creative and business-savvy people whose strengths vary like snowflakes but can cluster like magic. 

Consider administering the Gallup Poll StrengthsFinder test in your company to scope out where exactly people fit and how you can structure your operations to play in everyone's favor. Remember, you're only as strong as your weakest link. 

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears. - Simon Sinek 

2) Do we know why this brand should exist, better yet succeed?

Like Tom Smykowski's "Jump to Conclusions Mat," not all ideas are meant to be and the same applies for brands. A brand shouldn't just be a method to make a quick buck, be a brand that everybody hates, or worse be a brand that stands for nothing.  

Really look at the road ahead for you and your team. What are you picturing? A better world? Happier families? Technology that inspires? Whatever your cause may be, it is crucial that you as a leader and everyone you hire understands and lives to that bigger, noble purpose

Then–why should you succeed? We all want to make the world a better place. But what are you going to do to make it happen? Put words to that gut feeling and get it out there in the open. Passion can only be understood and thrive when it's demonstrated.

A brand creates perceived value for consumers through its personality in a way that makes it stand out. Its story is intricately intertwined with the public’s perception and consistently provides consumers with a secure sense that they know what they’re paying for. Your consumers own your brand. - Heidi Cohen

3) Do we know why we're different?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Well–yes, but it doesn't leave much room for success. Brands that win in the marketplace usually have one major factor in common: differentiation. 

What are your most unique promises? What can you do that no other brand can? In a digital world, it is important that your brand aims to stand out amongst the crowd.

It's not school anymore. You don't have to fit in. Today's consumers are looking for companies that go against the grain and surprise them. People are naturally anti-marketing and are always looking out for their own best interests, myself included. How will you speak and cater to their needs in a way they've never experienced? What will you reawaken them to?

Most brands have the potential, but fall victim to drowning in a sea of sameness.

4) Are we being honest–and do we have the ability to be? 

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The biggest misconception is that brand perfection is necessary before honesty is a valid brand strategy. - Daniel Baylis

A lot of us fake it 'til we make it. It's natural because we want to appear to be at our best. Strong. Resilient. Powerful. But–honesty within an organization can actually be the strongest and most powerful tool of all

At Element Three, as part of our brand development process, we take our clients through a Discovery Session. This is a 2- to 4-hour event that aims to uncover the true beliefs, perceptions and promises they stand behind. Then we compare it to what their customers think about them. Often what comes out can be a huge eye-opener. 

These insights often prove to be disruptive to our clients. An atmosphere of honesty and transparency can give leaders and employees the space to push the business forward, without hurting feelings and without losing their jobs. 

As a final note...

Never forget to be sincere with your messaging, hire unyielding passion and be realistic with your plans. Never lose hope in your dreams. Brands who regularly stop and reflect are often the ones that win. 

This post originally appeared on the Element Three Blog. Element Three is a HubSpot Partner located in Indianapolis, IN.

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