How can businesses successfully launch a brand that are automatically loved by consumers?
With finite resources (time, people and capital), launching a new brand can be stressful, and sometimes, it can get lost in the way without knowing where to start while the finish line is blurry.
Whether it be a new company wanting to launch a brand or an existing brand wanting to launch a brand as an extension, it is no secret that these processes are expensive and risky, careless planning will only cause the market to mercilessly punish you. And despite investing enormously, 70% of new brands fail within the first three years.
1. What Should I Call You?
Consumers will transfer their pre-registered knowledge about an existing product/service of yours that may, in turn, affect the brand that you are about the launch. Therefore, it is important for one to recognise oneself. Is the brand an extension brand? Or is it an entirely new brand with no associations from its previous (if any) brands?
If it is an Extension Brand
An advantage of extension brands is that they are able to transfer favorable associations from the existing/parent brand. Extension brands should consider the perceived image fit and functional similarities. Does the new brand fit with the existing brand?
An example is the Apple iPod, the extension brand from Apple, in which, the functionality and image is fit with the parent brand. Apple communicates itself as a well-designed, user-friendly and sophisticated consumer gadget. Therefore, the Apple iPod is fit with its parent brand. It can go about the other way around too by which harming the parent brand can occur. If Apple decided to launch an “Apple Backpack”, it would not turn out successful as it does not fit with their existing products.
New brands are something completely new, without any attachments to their previous brand or parent brand. For example, Toyota, a car manufacturer with significant market share in entry to mid-level cars and their introduction of Lexus, a completely new brand to tap into the high-end car market. New brands should serve as independent, without any connection. New brands have its own freedom to choose favorable associations and to create new image in consumer’s perspective
2. What Are You & Who Are You?
The next step after deciding whether to launch a brand extension or launch a brand that is entirely new to establish your brand positioning. Here are three things you have to establish in order to have a clear brand positioning.
Frame of Reference
The basic notion of frame of reference is: Who are you competing with? Consumers make decisions based on the product category, brand, and alternatives. If you are about to buy comfortable and well-designed running shoes, several brands will come to mind, that is a frame of reference. Indirectly communicate to your consumers and directly establish an internal frame of reference to make it easier for both your consumers, to refer your brand to certain product category, and your team to make a clear Points of Parity and Points of Difference.
Points of Parity (PoP)
Points of parity simply refer to the features that are embedded and connected to your product, removing ‘the reason not to buy’. Using the example of running shoes again, consumers would like to have comfortable technology in their shoes. In terms of comfort, brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Puma have their own comfort technology, it is their Points of Parity. Establish your PoP amongst your competitors and eliminate the reasons of why the market should not buy your product.
Points of Difference (PoD)
Points of difference are what make you stand out from the other competitors. PoD can be abstract (intangible) or concise (tangible). For example, Apple distinguishes itself from its competitors with its different operating system architecture and beliefs and values. In terms of beliefs and values, Apple continuously communicates itself as a brand that ‘challenges the status quo’, separating them from the rest. Ideally, moderate differentiation is considered much more favorable than radical differentiation in strategies to launch a brand, as radical differentiation will confuse consumers of your PoPs and Frame of References.
3. Where and How Do I Know You?
The last section is in the brink of the product launch, the brand awareness strategy, in which you have to acknowledge if the brand is a first-mover or follower. First-movers have its own advantages as no one in the market is actually offering the same option. However, first-movers are not always a good idea. Therefore, you need to create a lasting, strong and favorable impression in the eyes of consumers. For a followers brand, the differences should be leveraged to be set aside from existing competitors within the same frame of references.
If successful, these two different strategies in the brand awareness stage will help launch a brand by creating a lasting effect on the consumer’s perception.