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Strategies For Launching A New Brand

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Strategies For Launching A New Brand

In the old West, it was an identifying mark burned onto livestock with a fire-heated iron to thwart rustlers and cattle thieves.

In a similar fashion, businesses and individuals try to mark themselves with a distinct brand and embed that brand in the minds of the public at large or a specific, targeted population, to thwart copycatting and commoditization.

A brand can be a representation of a philosophy or a philosophical position, a reason to do business with a person or entity, an instant message that communicates what a person, product, or business is about.

It can be aggressive or gentle, bold or subtle. It can represent the values or aspirations of a community of consumers or followers. It can be represented by a name in a distinct typeface like Disney’s or IBM’s or by a distinctive image like Apple’s or the Playboy bunny.

I’ll start today with one brand I know more about than any other with this odd photo – it represents a powerful and valuable brand.

No BS

First used in 1993, it has since been in perpetual and proliferate use. It adorns literature, book covers, catalogs, newsletters, websites, and even a bobblehead doll.

Depicted in that picture is a (much younger) me, on a rented albino bull – the bull itself a celebrity, having appeared in two Disney films and countless trade show booths. Its name is Tiny. Mine is Dan Kennedy. Everyone reading this would know that I’m the “No B.S” guy.

No B.S. is pretty straightforward.

It means blunt, unmitigated, unqualified truth. That’s my mark.

The philosophy, and perhaps even the lifestyle of my brand. Truth-telling might not have the biggest market, but I’ve found that it is a mighty one all the same – rabid, appreciative, and loyal. This is the market that has worked for me best, and the market I want to continue working with.

​And since I deal with the truth, I want to be honest right now and tell you that you’re missing out on A LOT if you’re not registered to our NO B.S Newsletter, because I talk a lot about brand and marketing strategies there. Give it a shot if you want more tips on how to launch your brand.

​Back to the topic at hand – what might surprise some is that I have no interest in everybody recognizing my brand. Nor in just anybody recognizing me. I have very deliberately made myself what I call a famous person nobody’s ever heard of – except for the select audience that is of the highest value to me and best fit with me.

I have never spent a cent on outright brand advertising of any sort, yet within my chosen target markets my personal brand is strong – meaning, people know me, know what I’m about, and know what to expect when dealing with me.

My business brands are well recognized by customers, clients, readers, subscribers, and the fields in which I conduct business.

A brand can be important to consumers in different ways. It can, as I said before, help cut through marketplace clutter and chaos and sheer quantity of noise, to make choosing within a category easy and efficient.

It can often guarantee consistency, of a certain kind or level of experience so that the consumer can know in advance what to expect, and what not to expect.

​It can provide pride of ownership and status; it can enable somebody to be in “the cool kids’ club;” it can stroke one’s ego: I am because I own. It can validate a person’s values or aspirations: I am a good mother because I serve this brand of food. It can satisfy at an emotional level, as with nostalgia brands.

​Now, going back to my brand; not everybody knows about it, and that’s fine. One of the great myths of brand-building is that a brand’s value is proportionate to the raw numbers of those who know it. That can be true, but it isn’t always true. Business and marketing decisions, especially those about your brands, need to follow a linear path:

Principle > Strategies > Tactics

Principle Strategies Tactics

Great brands stand for something. And to build or launch a brand requires a principle, a well-thought-out strategy, and some clever tactics.

​For instance, Walt Disney put his business’s number-one principle into its slogan and Unique Selling Proposition, something of a feat: The Happiest Place On Earth.

The over-arching principle of all my work, represented by my brand, is truth-telling.

Absolute, unvarnished, bare naked truth-telling. Brands backed by principle tend to outsell, outperform, and outlast brands that aren’t. If you stand for nothing, you can be felled by just about anything.

Then, from the principle come strategies.

If you obtain and read the autobiographies and biographies of any man and woman who’ve built powerful personal or business brands, you will find that each of their few chief principles drove a plethora of strategic decisions.

I’ll use myself as an example here, and rattle off a couple of strategic decisions mandated by my chief principle:

  • I have focused on entrepreneurial business owners, business builders, and CEOs rather than larger, perhaps more lucrative corporate clients – because I understand and admire the determined entrepreneur but often question the very sanity and competence of corporate executives.
  • I’ve never sold or permitted anyone else to sell anything to my clientele, members, or followers without at least a 30-day unconditional guarantee – because if any individual feels they were not told the truth about a product or service, I do not want them feeling stuck with something “false” to them.
  • ​I have been personally transparent with my members and clientele. For example, I have written and publicly spoken about my now long, long ago bankruptcy; and my long ago heavy boozing; and I use my marketing misfires and flops as well as my successes as teaching examples.

And as for a non-Dan example: Farm-to-table restaurants are based on a certain obvious principle – fresh ingredients, healthy food. This governs strategic choices about physical location, menu items, food sources, vendors, and tactical decisions about price.

Now, we get to tactics.

This is too often where people begin to hurry, even race, towards implementation. Advertising and marketing content, media, and process decisions are made with little or no regard to a principle that governs strategy.

Entrepreneurs are often “Ready, Fire. Then Aim” people. The temptations to make tactical moves without full consideration usually come from operating under extreme time or financial pressure.

Martha Stewart, for example, risked great brand damage when she took Kmart as her first major retail partner.

It was a simple tactical act: They were there with money and no one else was, and they had – at the time – enormous distribution power. She made a similar, apparently money- and immediacy-driven decision when she broke with Macy’s and did a huge deal with J.C. Penney, creating a triangle of messy, expensive, and hazardous litigation, ill will, and bad PR.

​On the other hand, Iron Tribe Fitness’ owners decided to operate the opposite of most gyms, limiting membership to just 300 rather than selling as many memberships as possible and selling at a very premium price as opposed to the common, cheap fee. This is working out very well for them.

And lastly, a friend of mine self-published his health book, chooses not to sell it via Amazon or any other bookseller or in any ebook form (where it would probably bring from $4.00 to $9.00), sells it direct to consumers by direct mail only (at a $45.00 price), and has sold nearly 250,000 books at a nice profit.

These are all tactical decisions, and there are so many options to consider that it’s vital to have a fixed basis for evaluating them, such as Strategies based on Principle.

With all that being said, you should have a pretty good idea about brand building – that means we can focus on how to actually launch it.

Launches are immensely important, and brands that do it correctly will see much greater success.

Whether you’re introducing a new perfume for women, revealing the latest model in your clothing line, or promoting the premiere of a blockbuster film; how you launch your brand to the public will make a big difference in how successful these products, services, or brand messages become.

A well-done launch can stimulate interest, generate buzz, and boost sales. It is especially important in a world where thousands of new products are introduced each day, all over the world. The window of opportunity for successful launches is rapidly shrinking. If you can’t prove your brand’s value, you could disappear as quickly as you came.

Despite these dramatic changes in the market, a lot of brands have figured out how to stay on top. I’ll discuss five strategies that have had the biggest impact on successful launches and will separate you from your competitors – if you decide to put them into practice.

Learn Your Market

A surprising number of marketers still rely on their gut instincts – don’t be like them.

​If you are launching your brand you’ll need to identify and understand your target audience before the reveal.

Learn Your Market

Your brand should always revolve around your customers, so, the first step you should take is to identify who your target audience is, and decide if you can effectively reach them with your brand.

Employ social listening on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, send out surveys, and take the time to step into the shoes of your target audience. Look at the competitors they might consider instead of you and learn from them.

Establish Your Voice And Image

As I mentioned earlier, my NO B.S brand expresses blunt, unmitigated, unqualified truth. This is the kind of voice I choose to advocate my brand with, the kind of principle I’ve upheld from the beginning until now.

It’s not the easiest road to travel, mind you. I’ve repelled as many people as I’ve attracted to my brand – and the people who were not deterred by my “harsh” approach, stayed.

That’s the main thing about owning your voice. It allows you to build a better connection with an audience that is like-minded, and thus, more willing to stick with you to the very end.

The voice you choose to convey will go hand-in-hand with your brand’s image. Think of them both as the pieces that make up the “puzzle”, that is your brand. Every piece should be strategically crafted to reinforce a single, central brand image.

For years, when you went to the grocery store or supermarket to buy some chicken for the Saturday afternoon backyard barbeque, you bought chicken, period. Just chicken, on a cardboard tray, wrapped with plastic wrap by the grocer.

But then Frank Perdue used himself as a spokesperson and his name to prioritize chicken, and today people go to the store looking for Perdue Chicken. Of course, there’s also Jimmy Dean Sausage and Bob Evans Farm Sausage.

Your brand is your company’s identity, so it should be founded on a clear foundation. Without a voice and an image, your brand will lack the authenticity it needs to genuinely connect with people.

Go Big Or Go Home

Go Big Or Go Home

He who can spend the most to acquire a customer, wins.

Before your launch goes live, you should already have a clearly defined strategy in place to share the news of your brand launch with your chosen audience. If you want to build and launch a brand, you best be prepared to go big.

The most successful introductions are leveraged by multiple channels simultaneously from day one.

Launches are no time to be timid or indecisive.

Online and offline, webinars, seminars, collaborations, press releases – do what you need to do to make your brand known to your target market. Align your launch with an event to increase awareness and traffic.

Prepare To Adjust

The best things in life don’t always go according to plan, and most entrepreneurs should know that launches can be especially volatile. You should always be on your toes during a launch.

Never neglect a single channel or medium, and keep a close eye on those metrics.

If you’re running a physical event for your launch, your day should be spent networking and overseeing that everything is going smoothly. When things go south, be open to making adjustments on the spot.

Prepare To Adjust

Situations like these make it especially important to have a good, trusting relationship with your team – the people helping you make things happen. Hire competent personnel, and communicate changes clearly when needed.

Analyze Results

Once everything is done and the dust has settled, it’s time to sit down and look at your brand launch KPIs.

These could include website traffic, social media engagement, conversion rates, sales, brand mentions, and customer feedback. Leverage analytics tools such as Google Analytics. And these all should be measured against your launch goals and metrics.

Compare and contrast your results against industry benchmarks or similar case studies. This will give you the context to understand your brand’s performance relative to the market at large, which you can use to figure out what to do next, where to improve and what needs more growth.

Lastly, you should determine which strategies were the most effective in achieving your brand launch goals. Identify specific marketing channels, content types, or promotions that really resonated with your audience – and reverse engineer them. Ensure that you know exactly why they worked and how you can utilize them again for future endeavors.

Last Remarks

The success of a brand launch is a dynamic journey that goes beyond the initial splash. It's about creating a narrative that resonates, engaging with your audience, and evolving with their needs. The strategies outlined here provide a solid foundation, but the real success happens when you tailor them to your unique brand identity and audience.

Now, armed with insights, data, and a robust plan, it's time to unleash your brand into the world. Whether you're launching a new product, service, or an entirely fresh brand concept, the journey ahead is a challenging one. Keep an eye on the metrics, stay responsive to your audience, and be ready to adapt.

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