The light bulb suddenly goes off and you have an amazing idea for your next iconic brand strategy. You’re so excited! There are logos and taglines and websites, oh my! There is social media marketing to consider. You have all of your ducks in a row…or at least, you think you do.
You launch your new baby out into the world and prepare for it to become iconic. And, maybe it will be. But it’s probably going to take a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make that happen. There is a good reason seasoned entrepreneurs often say, “It only took me 10 years to become an overnight success.”
The problem is that it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating something new and to forget that becoming an iconic brand requires a lot more than a great logo, tagline, and website. All of that shiny stuff is really just window-dressing. The research, positioning, and messaging are the real nuts and bolts behind an iconic brand strategy.
So how do find the discipline to lay the groundwork for success before you let yourself get swept up in the more glamorous side of launching your new brand?
First, it’s important to keep in mind that just because you need to do the hard groundwork, that doesn’t mean you can’t also reward yourself by working on the fun stuff, like planning the huge launch party you’re going to throw when you’re ready to announce.
As you read through the below list, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. But rest assured that if you take your time and insist on being intentional as you work through this process, you will be overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the end result.
Key Considerations for Launching Your Next Iconic Brand Strategy:
1. Start with the basics: Is there a market? AKA look both ways before you cross that street.
Whether you are creating a brand strategy for a new product or for an extension of an existing product line, it’s important to do some serious research into the potential market that you will want to tap into. There are three important areas to consider here.
A. Market/situational awareness:
Research the current tools, technologies, services, and work-arounds. Positioning your brand in the market requires extensive understanding of what else is available. You will be looking to gain a share of these markets.
Ask the following questions about existing brands and peers:
- What works/doesn’t work?
- What’s the broader discussion? Are companies/thought leaders talking about this capability?
- Where is the solution on the technology cycle (cutting edge vs. mature)?
- Is there pending legislation or regulation that may shift the market dynamics?
B. Market segmentation and prioritization:
Once you have a handle on what the market looks like, dig deeper. Get as specific as you can about what your real target market looks like. Segment different target groups in the way that makes the most sense for your brand. Prioritize, i.e., figure out which of these groups to target first, second, third, and when. Finally, determine each segment’s pain points and specific challenges.
- Who is my specific target market? How do the buy? When? Why?
- Where are these customers? Consider industry, customer size, geography, innovation requirements, you get the idea.
- What are the customer pain points our product solves?
C. Competitive analysis
The last piece in the market puzzle of your iconic brand strategy is doing a thorough competitive analysis. This will help determine how to position your brand both in terms of the current market landscape and projecting into the future potential shifts.
Ask the following about your competition:
- Who are they?
- Where are they (physical locations, virtual locations, operational status)?
- How big are they?
- Market share (try to get at least a notional sense)?
2. Now, go deep inside your business. How will your new brand change your operations?
Depending on how much of a transformation you plan to make as you build your iconic brand strategy, this will take a good mix of pragmatism, creativity, and a bit of speculation. It helps to bring in your team to get a full picture of potential business impacts.
As an example, you might consider if you need to make changes to your business structure.
- How will you need to structure your current business to accommodate the new brand?
- Or is this really a new business/company? A spin-off? A joint venture? A product extension?
3. Prepare your brand messaging–this is huge!
Messaging can be the difference between launching a successful brand and launching an iconic brand. It’s the difference between a basically reliable casual shoe and a Nike. Try to figure out what unique value your brand offers and more importantly, how to get the word out. This may take some trial and error. Above all, make sure your messaging reflects your brand promise.
A. Value Proposition
- Why us?
- Why now?
- What problem do we solve?
- What pains do we alleviate?
B. Brand promise
- What are you offering your buyers? Why is it important? What does your brand stand for and why?
C. Positioning Statements
- How do our priority market segments prefer to receive information?
- What is the tone they prefer?
- How can we signal social proof?
D. Message Architecture
Think of message architecture as scaffolding for all of your marketing content. Your message architecture or framework will support and shape all the content you produce going forward. When marketers and communications pros talk about messaging, they are talking about the general impression they want customers to take away from the content itself.
When it comes to designing the message architecture, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. This article from some content experts is a good place to start and it offers a number of useful examples.
E. Elevator pitch – you have 15 seconds in an elevator with your dream client – what do you say?
Every new brand needs a catchy elevator pitch. This should be easy once you’ve done all of the research and analysis above.
4. Brand Identity — most people skip directly to this step, but putting in the upfront work is critical to developing an iconic brand strategy.
This goes beyond the broader messaging to even less tangible elements. Your brand’s identity is really the public perception of the brand. A lot more than words on your website goes into your brand identity. Unfortunately, some of this is out of your control, but you can learn to influence this if you really study corporate communications or find someone else who has done so.
Here the following are crucial:
A. Is this a stand-alone solution or does is it part of a family/suite of products/solutions?
B. Reflect on your market research and align to your aspirational positioning.
C. Consider whether you need/want a tagline — a tagline can be a powerful brand discriminator and shorthand for what’s unique about your brand.
D. Don’t forget to reserve your URLs!
5. Launch Strategy — get ready to be big!
Yay! Now that you’ve put in the real grunt work, you can start to plan the launch strategy for your new brand. I offered some good tips here in a recent blog post. And just imagine how much confidence you’ll have gained once you’ve completed the list above.
I know that this all sounds like a ton of work and it is! But this is your baby. What could be more rewarding and satisfying than watching your idea grow from a thought bubble into a household name?
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