I’ve been a part of many brand launches over the years. Some have gone smoothly and some haven’t. Looking back, the most successful ones in my mind kept it simple. In doing so, they really focused on three basic areas and how they interact with one another.
When developing an image, I advise people to focus on a few key areas to start with. If you try to tackle everything that a big agency would tackle, you quickly find yourself knee-deep in templates, acronyms, and exercises that are time-consuming and confusing. The tips below are the natural conclusions you’d reach wading through that confusion — keep reading to save yourself some time and suffering.
TIP: When setting a color palette, I like to pick a primary color, a secondary color and then do variants of each to round out the palette, along with a gray.
TIP: Be mindful of font licensing when choosing a font. Start with free font libraries such as Google Fonts in order to avoid license costs if you are bootstrapping your startup.
TIP: If you aren’t sure how to describe your brand, try describing some brands you admire. You may just find that the brand traits you are trying to establish are present in the brands you interact with on a daily basis.
If you can settle on the color palette, logotype, and language that you’ll use when talking about your brand, then you will have established a baseline image you can confidently launch with.
Your value proposition is the foundation for your marketing strategy. It defines the positioning of your product in your customer’s mind. The most important question you can answer for them is “why should I buy your product or service.”
Value propositions can best be developed through a two-step process of identification and expression. I purposely break this into two steps because you want the identification process to be free flowing. You don’t want to worry about how you are saying something in this stage — just focus on getting it all on paper.
In the identification stage, ask yourself these three key questions:
Once you’ve identified your value, you need to turn it into an actual proposition. This is where step two — expression — comes in. Now that you’ve had a period of free thought where anything goes, you need to reel it in and start to create a clear and concise value proposition.
When developing your final value proposition, consider the following.
Knowing how you plan to be different from the competition is pivotal at launch because this is not something you change with the wind. Hopefully you did this as part of your product or service development, but it is easy to get fixated on your solution without thoroughly investigating how others may have tackled similar challenges.
A fun approach I like to use to tease out differentiation (and ultimately establish positioning) is Marty Neumeier’s “The Onliness Statement.” The creation of your “Onliness Statement” is a great way to test out how you plan to use language to define your brand.
To create an “Onliness Statement,” the following six components must be defined for the organization.
What: the only (category)
How: that (differentiation characteristic)
Who: for (customer)
Where: in (market geography)
Why: who (customer need statement)
When: during (underlying trend)
One of my all-time favorite examples of a completed “Onliness Statement” is the following done for the Harley Davidson company.
What: the only motorcycle manufacturer
How: that makes big, loud motorcycles
Who: for macho guys (and “macho wannabees”)
Where: mostly in the United States
Why: who want to join a gang of cowboys
When: in an era of decreasing personal freedom
If you’ve done any research on this topic, I’m sure you’ve already encountered many different approaches to brand development. If you have, keep in mind these two things: (1) launching a new brand is much different than revising an existing brand, and (2) no matter what tools, templates or processes you use, I urge you to keep it simple and focus on launching.