The Art of the Brand-Led Launch

Posted in Insights

When it’s time for your company to launch something new, whether it’s a new product or a global brand transformation, it’s a once-in-a-lifecycle opportunity to answer this question: “If you had one shot to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it, or let it slip?”

1. Momentum Begins Within
Launches should be exciting for the people within companies—the ones fulfilling the promise long after it becomes old news. They often care most about the “why”—the vision for why this move is both important to the business and impactful to an industry, customer, even the world. Decide how to involve the home team in early launch plans, or just a big reveal. Cool new schwag goes a long way, but a shared purpose takes you farther, together.

We saw this in the B2B brand transformation of Mercalis, where everything from a new name and identity to clarified services structure and website led up to a launch day built on a shared mission to commercialize life sciences and enhance patient lives.

But even the confident launch of an individual product or product feature can create a groundswell. For Mezzetta, it was creating the world’s largest sandwibase to share the collected wisdom of the company, customers, and celebrity chefs.

2. New Is Not Enough
As big a deal as a launch is internally, it’s easy to forget your market’s never a captive audience. They’re busy. The world’s noisy. People outside your inner circle need reasons to pay attention and care. Along with the opportunity to say “new”, a thoughtful GTM strategy is a one-time chance to unveil something people want/need but couldn’t get before. Who is it for? How is it new and why does it matter to them?

Whatever you’re launching, it is not done until you determine how to take it to market. Brand-led Business BuildingⓇ questions explore ways to improve the product execution, how it’s bought and delivered, or simply what you should do with your one wild and precious message that may have a chance to get seen.

The vision and launch of hospitality concept, Bode was a new way of travel for a new kind of traveler, inspired by a manifesto and informed by both a brand approach that went from name and identity down to scalable operational standards.

In consumer packaged goods, the challenge is giving brands life beyond the supermarket aisle. The launch of Coppola’s Sofia Mini meant making sparkling wine in a can engaging.

3. A Companywide Brand Collab
A GTM strategy is a hypothesis – a model where customer definition, product features, pricing, distribution channels, operations, customer experience, messages, and visuals align. The aim is to make it fit together in the way that your customers experience it.

Internal consensus drives customer experience. A launch makes a promise, and you will need to enlist executive support and a cross-functional team to back it up. View all the pieces of a GTM strategy from a customer perspective to reveal holes you need to fill in what you say versus what you do, places where you can add sparks of value, or ways you might add value over time.

For EA, Shutterfly, and Norton, we built and launched whole new ways for customers to interact with the brand: a game matchmaker, a baby namer, and a cybercrime index. These tools became highly-promoted digital products in themselves, as seen in the global launch campaign for Norton.

4. Synchronized Swimming Partners
The run-up to a launch can feel like a scramble from the start. Even the best of plans will omit a variable or take a twist. Into this fray enter a mix of internal and external players who bring specific expertise. The important thing is, the only perspective that really matters is the customer.

The market is agnostic, so your plan should be to. Any area of expertise–PR, branding, product, digital marketing–can lend great perspective, but it needs to elevate out of narrow terminology and tactics and gravitate back to the strategic big picture.
You need partners to tell you how to go-to-market looking sharp with a big smile on your face–but also tell you when you have a hunk of spinach caught in your teeth.

The launch of France’s most popular wine brand, Jadot, into the American market required a strong take on the geographic differences in visuals, messaging, channels, and ways to break through clutter and form a bridge between two cultures.

5. Finish, Fit, and Polish
Launches have a way of shaking things up. Sometimes it’s clarifying how a new product fits with the old. Sometimes it’s whether you look the part you’re now saying you play. A GTM strategy isn’t in a vacuum–it’s one of those times when everything gets a fresh set of eyes. If there are loose ends in product or brand architecture, or anything seems disjointed, all will be revealed. Thorough polish is what allows you to launch boldly, knowing you have eliminated any suck.

At Brasada Ranch, launching the new Cascade Bungalows luxury product could have been just a campaign to drive bookings, but instead became the impetus to answer myriad questions about the positioning of their long standing range of options.

For Levata, a new global brand promise led to a fresh look at how all their acquired legacy B2B brands could either roll-in as sub-brands, or maintain their own name and niche as all became part of their web and brand architecture.

6. Always Be Launching
During this process, you will begin to think of a launch date as an end–it becomes all-consuming. This may seem to contradict the “one shot” mentality, but a launch is just the beginning of a GTM strategy that will evolve through results and feedback. For instance, outward-facing digital marketing becomes a great mechanism for improving elements of messaging and delivery. You may only launch a full GTM vision every few years, but you should be doing versions constantly based on testing and listening.

Our agency's experience with iconic Canyon Ranch, for instance, was a transformative re-launch followed by a series of initiatives to affirm the company’s new GTM strategy as a wellness lifestyle brand, with new ways of bundling service experiences, new messaging and visuals, and new ways of interacting online layered in over time.

We often refer to integrated digital marketing as “traction” because it’s a way of using in-market response to continually prove and evolve a GTM strategy.

Launches often start somewhere in a boardroom with a business goal, and end up in a mad dash to a finish line. An artful, collaborative brand-led GTM approach makes sure what you’re launching always keeps all eyes squarely on the prize–truly engaging the people you were hoping will buy in all along.

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