How to Launch Your Brand
Your brand launch needs to happen in two phases: first an internal phase and then an external phase. Only after your internal team is on board and every customer touch point is in alignment and ready to deliver on your brand promise are you ready to take your brand outside your organization and to your target market.
Even your internal launch needs to occur in two phases: the first one for senior management and the second one for your full employee team. This sequence is important because you need to get all executives firmly on board before you start rallying the troops.
Otherwise, you risk gaining enthusiasm from employees only to have some vice president say something like, “I don’t know why we’re spending so much time and money on this.” Just like that, internal support for your branding program can take a giant backslide.
If your company is small to medium in size, your two-phase internal launch can happen over a short time period. If you’re dealing with multiple locations or divisions, however, it will take longer. Either way, by involving executives in the brand planning and development phase, you cut down the time needed to bring top-level leaders on board because they’re part of the planning team from the beginning.
Launching with upper management
Your top-level executive team was involved in the brand-development process (right?), so you don’t need to unveil your new or revitalized brand to this group. Instead, use the launch as your chance to bring the whole brand picture into focus, following these steps:
Review and win unanimous consent for your brand position, promise, character, definition, and launch message.
Address any questions or doubts so that all leaders are reading from the same page when your brand message moves into your organization.
Gain agreement regarding your brand-launch objectives and timing.
This is the last chance to learn about timing conflicts between the brand launch and other business activities so you can iron out kinks by altering the schedule, shifting launch responsibilities, or hiring employees or outside professionals to handle the tasks involved. Deal with any issues at this stage of the launch so they don’t become a barrier to success as you implement your broader launch.
Preview your brand-launch materials and presentation.
Now is the time to preview your presentation materials with your top-level team so there won’t be any surprises (or resistance) at the company-wide presentation.
Discuss and win agreement regarding how each executive’s department can tangibly integrate the brand promise into every aspect of the organization’s products and services.
By taking the time to explain why you’re branding, rebranding, or revitalizing your brand and how your efforts link to your business mission and goals, you preempt internal resistance and kick-start the process of creating a team of champions for your brand.
Your internal brand launch should be both an education process and a company rally. For a successful launch, follow these steps:
Make a case about the value of branding.
If you can’t connect the idea of branding to your business vision, mission, values, and goals, you’re setting yourself up to hear murmurs of, “They paid how much for that?”
Present your brand strategy, putting special emphasis on the brand promise and the importance of a brand experience that’s reflected through every point of encounter with your business.
Unveil your brand identity.
Show the logo, preview the slogan, and present prototypes of how the brand identity will appear throughout your business and marketing materials over coming weeks and months.
Give each employee a quality gift featuring the new logo.
The nicer the item, the better the impression, so avoid anything cheap or cheesy unless that’s the image you want your employees to take away with them. Instead, accompany your internal brand launch with distribution of quality items that employees will like and want to keep. Please, no click-top pens with flaky metallic imprints up the side.
Remind employees of the external launch date and ask them to keep your identity under wraps until that day arrives. If your staff is too large to control, consider distributing gifts or copies of the new identity until after the external launch occurs.
Ask each member of your team to personally embrace the brand and become an ambassador who delivers the brand experience to customers.
Only when your company is ready to walk the talk is it time to take your brand message to the world outside your business by following these steps:
Time your external launch to coincide with public interest in your story.
If you serve a particular industry, consider timing your launch around a major conference or trade show. If you serve a local market, coincide your launch with an annual economic development conference, regional business fair, or some other event that brings regional leaders and media together in one place.
Launch a public-relations program to carry your brand message into your community, market area, and industry arena.
Place ads presenting your brand and the promise it makes.
Unveil your brand promise and message on the home page of your website and social-media pages.
As you announce your brand outside your organization, leverage publicity to launch your brand, advertise to put your stake in the ground, and put the power of digital communications to work to spread your brand message far and wide.