How to successfully launch a brand to make a grand entrance
So you have an amazing new brand identity that represents what you stand for and where you’re going with your brand. You have your shiny new business cards, your letterhead, your swag, probably a new website. All sporting your new Brand Identity. Nice! So your development team deploys the new website and you hit the ‘post’ button on that social post that says ‘our new website is live’. You just had a successful brand launch. Or did you?
What is a brand launch?
A brand launch is the process of introducing a new brand. It’s bringing the results of a (re)brand process and sharing with an audience outside of your company’s core team and the agency who’s done the rebrand. As you probably already know your brand, simply put, is how people think of you and feel about you. And just like when a person introduces themselves; first impressions really do count. Do you quietly enter the room and find a seat in the back wearing a shirt with a tiny name tag on it? Or do you come in busting through the wall like the Kool-Aid guy, all eyes on you?
To be able to get behind the wheel of a brand launch and make sure it’s a successful one you’ll need a strategy. But what does that entail? Here are a few things to consider:
timing is everything
internal launch before external launch
double down on your messaging
keep at it
Timing is everything
It’s easy to underestimate the time and effort that goes into creating a brand launch strategy. So, when exactly should you start thinking about the how and when of the brand launch? When your new brand identity is locked in and all of the brand collateral is being designed it’s time to start thinking about a time table. So put together a team that is going to help you execute the brand launch strategy. It could be a dedicated marketing or social media team. Or maybe it’s just you and a group of co-workers. Make sure you create a time table for your launch. It should contain actionable items, detailed date and time stamps and who’s responsive for each item. Make it as detailed as possible. It should even say who is going to update the new avatar on your social profiles. You definitely don’t want no old logos floating around on your brand’s social media profiles. So how do you balance these out?
Making an impact
When you launch your brand you will want to make an impact. Spreading a brand launch over a long period of time with low efforts is not going to help with that.
A successful, authentic and trustworthy brand is consistent in its messaging. In a perfect world your ‘old’ brand identity and new brand identity don’t exist simultaneously. Think of it as two turntables with a crossfader. If you’re the DJ at the launch party avoid having record 1 (your old brand identity) slowly fading out as the other record (the new brand identity) slowly fades in.
Whether your brand is well-established going through a rebrand or it’s just making its first appearance building anticipation can help gain momentum upon launch. Hint at the fact a launch, or better yet, a change is about to come but don’t go into the specifics. Make sure you mention a date and/or time. The larger the audience you’ve accumulated over the years the more useful some anticipation building will be. If your visual brand identity has changed throughout a reband this can make the launch itself less disorienting as.
Internal launch before external launch
An essential yet often overlooked aspect of a successful brand launch is communicating about your (re)brand from the inside out. In other words; make sure you launch internally before launching externally. People in your company should be the first to know of your new brand identity. And if you ask me you me, I think one should go to lengths to get internal buy-in.
Note that it’s impossible to please everyone within your company. It’s okay if Jenny from HR isn’t ‘feeling’ the green in the brand color palette. It’s okay if Matéo from sales ‘isn’t a fan’ of the ligature that came with the main brand typeface. Some people embrace change easier than others.
If your new brand identity truly represents where your company is going and the collective values people in your company share they will recognize themselves in the new brand. And they will help you carry it out with pride. And perhaps more importantly they will appreciate it for the right reasons and tell the story of the brand. If you pitch it the right way with a pre-game talk.
Pitching the right way: Pre-game talk
Consider yourself to be the coach that gets their players ready for the game. Help everyone get their eyes on the sparrow. You need everyone to play the game. They might do it in their own way. A production worker won’t advocate for your (and you as in; theirs and yours together) rebrand the same way as an account manager would. Just like how a striker player won’t play the same game of soccer as a goalie. However, their objective is the same. If done correctly they come out of the dressing room to play together, to have the same vision and mission and aim for the same results.
Take your team on a journey. The rebrand probably didn’t happen overnight. Whether you outsourced the branding process to an agency (wink wink 👋 ) or did it in-house. A lot of energy and heart went into it. That is exactly why it’s key to remind everyone in your company of the reasons that made you consider rebranding in the first place.
In case people were personally involved in the (re)branding process don’t shy away from mentioning the journey you all went through. But….. don’t dwell on the past too much. Keep everyone’s eyes on the horizon and the journey that is going to take you towards that horizon you are collectively embarking on.
Inform your top customers/clients
Needless to say you will want to spread the word to your customers / clients. If you have a newsletter use it and tell them about this exciting refined direction your going in! Also involve your top clients (or ‘customers’, whatever term you use to refer to the people that buy your service or product off of you) and create an opportunity to strengthen your relationship. Just like you would inform close family and friends first of your newborn baby first before your second cousin. Reach out to your close customers and shoot them a personal email or a new merch goodie bag. Let them know what your new brand represents. Let them know what changes for them and reassure them you’re there to help them by offering your products/services like they expect from you. But make it clear how you now have a stronger focus than ever before.
If you have a company blog have someone with authority — for example the CEO, CVO or a founder — write a blog post. It's likely that they're going to need more than a 140 character. If you don't have a company blog have them post it on both a social network's personal account that that appriate for a someone slower pace and allows for more than a few characters. This gives more weight and radiates the rebrand's buy-in at the top most level of your company. Don't forget to share or repost it using the company account.
Double down on your messaging
Backtrack for a moment and think about what made you wind up in that nicely fitted sweater sporting your new logo. Go back to the moment where you decided the time was right for a rebrand (or a new brand). If you hired a branding team chances are you and them had long conversations about things like your company’s purpose, vision, mission, values, brand personality and so forth. With your brand launch around the corner, now would be a good time to revise them and make sure you know them by heart. Because –after all– they are what drove every decision on the road to the most tangible brand assets. And I’m not just talking about your logo, tagline, color palette. I’m also referring to your messaging and tone of voice. Now that you’re confident you walk that walk you can confidently talk that talk.
Keep at it
Assuming your initial burst of brand launch efforts takes place within, say, a week; set aside a moment to celebrate with everyone in your company. You could even think of throwing a brand launch party and inviting some of your favorite clients. But don’t lose sight of what’s really important; staying consistent throughout every brand touch point. From your messaging to every single piece of brand collateral.
Be open to engage
It would be naive to think there won’t be people out there that will tell you they’re not into the new brand as much as you’ve had hoped. Especially the visual identity is something people that have been in touch with your brand before your rebrand will surely have an opinion on the way your brand visually presents itself. There are two things to say about this. The first one is that it’s completely fine for some people to not be instantly drawn to your new (visual) brand identity. You simply can’t please everyone. And that’s okay! For every person that isn’t drawn to your brand or who isn’t appealed
Secondly, think of it as merely another opportunity to share your mission, vision, purpose and values. After all, these are what drove your new brand identity and what will appeal to your audience.
Embrace the dynamic nature of visual identity
Get comfortable with accepting and embracing that especially visual identities are not etched in stone. I know earlier I insisted on the importance of consistency. What I mean by ‘not etched in stone’ refers to a visual identity being able to ever so slightly evolve and mature over years. Something that is only natural to find a balance between two things: staying current while staying true to yourself. You’ll want to avoid being static and ‘outdated’. Yet on the other hand you’ll want to make sure every subtle change is made to represent your brand identity. Always fight the urge to start tweaking your visual identity over a short term design trend. You’re in it for the long haul as your brand equity accumulates through setting and meeting expectations. Don’t get distracted by what’s shiny and new at the risk of blurry (visual) messaging.
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