Spire’s Julia Cardali Offers Brands 5 Steps for a Successful Brand Launch
At Spire Agency, we’re big on building, refreshing, and elevating B2B brands—in strategy, messaging, design, and marketing. And while many think the buck—and the budget—stops there, the Spire team rolls up their branded The North Face® quarter-zip sleeves and says, “We’re just getting started.” It’s one thing to build a brand and it’s another thing entirely to launch the new brand in-market, which is no simple feat. Luckily, Spire is here to help the “many” understand the importance of a proper brand launch and guide you through the process.
Step 1: Establish a Comprehensive Budget
Since budget is always top of mind for marketing managers and executives, it should be noted that the deployment of the new or refreshed brand is equally as important as the re-brand itself. As such, if companies are willing to invest in rejuvenating their brand, they must also be willing to invest in the proper launch of the brand. Otherwise, the former is not only a waste of dollars but can cause confusion in the market, which has the potential to lead to customer dissatisfaction and thus decreased revenue.
“Brand marketing improves not only the brand but other components as well, such as the return on marketing investment (ROMI) on performance marketing, customer advocacy, and even employee satisfaction. The bottom line: B2B companies that underinvest in brand marketing are literally selling themselves short.”
— Boston Consulting Group
B2B companies typically spend 5% of revenue on marketing annually. With this in mind, a brand refresh could cost anywhere between 10% to 20% of the overall budget, ranging anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 and beyond, depending on each brand’s specific needs. Based on the sheer number and volume of assets that need to be developed / updated and rolled out in a brand launch, this range shouldn’t be a surprise.
Yes, it’s true, a brand refresh and proper launch are not inexpensive feats, but it is incredibly important to get them right. It would be a shame for a newly flipped brand’s entrance into the market to flop due to a lackluster launch execution, and vice versa. That’s why it is important to factor the proper launch of the brand into the overall refresh budget from the beginning.
Step 2: Set a Realistic Timeline
Given the plethora of components that need to be considered and updated amid refreshing an entire brand (or creating a new brand), it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the process. To further complicate things, each element of a brand refresh—from social media channels to sales collateral to an entire website—requires its own unique production process and timeline. That’s why it is crucial to put together a plan before embarking on such a multi-faceted endeavor.
“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin
In developing a brand refresh plan, it is important to consider the order and cadence of the plan’s tactics and deadlines. For instance, you can’t get started on a logo until the brand name is established. And even if the brand name will remain the same, as another example, you can’t get started on designing a brochure until core messaging, tone, and color palette are established. Keeping all these specific project complexities and various lead times in mind is critical when establishing a plan.
At the same time, you need to be cognizant of the preferred launch date and ensure that all project deadlines are backed out from that date. Speaking of launch date, it is best to be realistic when choosing launch timing.
Brand and/or product names can take weeks to months for legal review and registration; messaging may involve interviews with busy stakeholders or traveling executives and takes time to craft; and website content development, design, and programming alone can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the site. Given the large investment and importance of getting the moving targets aligned prior to launch, this is not a process that should be rushed.
Step 3: Determine Your Initial Touchpoints
Each brand is unique and has different needs. However, there are elements that are more or less required as a first step towards a successful external brand rollout, including:
- Brand Positioning & Strategic Messaging
- Collateral & Sales Enablement Tools
- Business System
- Social Profiles & Email Signatures
Depending on how experiential you want the launch to be, there are further tactics and initiatives that you may want to consider. This is hardly an exhaustive list, but consider how you can scale your new brand or refresh your old one with:
- Trade Show Booth
- Customer Notification (may include gift item, personal phone call, email, etc.)
- Company Automobiles, Uniforms, Office or Storefront, etc. (if applicable)
- Press Release and/or PR Event
- New Brand Awareness Campaign
- Paid Search
This list goes on and on, and, again, is different for every company, depending on its specific needs, budget, and goals.
Step 4: Create a Meaningful Employee Rollout
The only thing more critical than the external brand launch is the internal brand launch. And yet, somehow, this crucial rollout step is so often missed and/or undervalued by companies. So, you might be asking yourself, what makes the internal launch so important?
First, employees are stewards of brand—both inward, to each other, as well as outward, to the world (including customers, prospects, and potential future employees). So, it’s critical that they are not just made aware of the shift in brand, but that they understand it, connect with it, and embrace it. According to the Harvard Business Review, “…when employees live [the] vision, customers are much more likely to experience the company in a way that’s consistent with what you’ve promised.” If employees are empowered to live the brand, passion and loyalty will shine through.
“When employees live [the] vision, customers are much more likely to experience the company in a way that’s consistent with what you’ve promised.”
— Harvard Business Review
With the great power of the internal brand rollout comes great responsibility. It takes time for a brand to come together from soup to nuts. During that time, only the core marketing team should be aware of the goings on, and more importantly, involved in decision-making for the new brand. It is vital that the efforts are not dribbled out (this is still not a drip campaign, people) so that surprise and excitement are maximized around the finished, unified product.
Take our client ACAP Health, for example. Spire worked closely with the client’s core marketing team for over a year on all of the necessary branding and asset updates, which culminated in an internal launch event for employees. During the event, employees were anxiously awaiting the tearing down of brown paper covers to reveal their newly updated office space.
Smiling employees excitedly entered their newly re-branded work-home.
Once inside of the space, the Chief Experience Officer of the company revealed the lobby area as well as some key components of the new brand, including the manifesto, visuals, website renderings, etc.
To learn more about ACAP Health’s brand refresh and rollout, view the work page.
Elements of a successful internal brand rollout include:
- Environmental Branding
- Employee Gift Box (may include new business cards, branded swag, etc.)
- Delivery of Core Brand Assets (e.g., brand standards guide, strategic messaging, etc.)
- Timely Shift of Website
- Internal Launch Event (may include speech from leadership and/or marketing team: a fireside chat describing the new brand story, unveiling of internal branding, sharing branded treats, etc.)
Step 5: Involve Your Customers
There are many people that need to be made aware of a shift in brand when the time comes. It goes without saying that external brand rollout to customers, prospects, and stakeholders/investors is imperative. When planning how to notify such key audiences, it is important to consider that they may be reached best through different channels. For instance, you may be inclined to send high-value customers a custom, more high-end gift item, whereas you may not want to spend that kind of investment on a smaller customer. Or you may want the sales team to personally call each of their customer contacts as part of the notification strategy, whereas you may not want or need to spend the time calling prospects.
No matter how you go about notifying these key external audiences, take advantage of this worthy reason to reach out to these folks. It’s a chance to continue or begin a conversation. Let them know who the new company is, what has changed, why the change, when it will (or recently has) come into effect, etc. With that, you’ll also want to ensure that the external audience’s transition to the new brand is seamless. It should seem as though a flip was switched overnight versus elements of the brand getting dribbled out over time (this is not a drip campaign).
Even with the new brand rolled out externally, the work is not yet done. Although you’ll want to eliminate all instances of your old brand to mitigate any confusion in the marketplace, a transitional period is necessary to ensure customers and prospects can still bridge the connection from old to new. Within this transitional period, prominent pieces (e.g., website pop-up, email, direct mail, etc.) should have co-branded logos for six months to a year. That way you’re leveraging the credibility of the old brand while driving awareness of the new brand.
A consistent, positive customer experience is a main driver of building trust and loyalty. In fact, a study that surveyed over 200 organizations found that consistent presentation of a brand has been seen to increase revenue by 33%. In a world where it takes five to seven impressions just for people to remember your brand, companies ought to ensure that those impressions are consistent.
While there are ideas to execute and steps to plan for and budgets to consider, no business is alone when they come on board with Spire. As an award-winning B2B branding agency, Spire is here to facilitate all steps in the process to ensure your brand execution and deployment are flawless.
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Julia Cardali is an Account Supervisor at Spire Agency.