Perspectives on Branding and Identity from Franke+Fiorella
Issue No.32


Risks of the Incremental Brand Launch

After revitalizing an existing brand, or creating a new brand, there is the critical job of communicating your brand message clearly and consistently. And, it all starts with that first communication effort, the brand launch.

When budgeting for the design or redesign of a brand, remember to budget adequate dollars to launch it. This may seem obvious, but we’ve seen some companies forget this important step. Then they’re stuck. They have a brand to launch and no money. So they have to slowly introduce their new brand presence into the marketplace over an extended period of time, when budget allows.

Compare that direction with an aggressive brand launch. Aggressive brand launches get noticed. They’re visible in all the right places, at the right time and are 100% on brand. Your brand launch is not the time to cut corners. If you don’t present a clear message frequently enough, it won’t be remembered.

Below are some of the risks associated with implementing a brand launch incrementally over time:

1. Inconsistent brand presence in the marketplace. If you don’t have enough money budgeted, it’s tempting to try to cut costs by postponing the application of your new identity to communications that have high turnover costs associated with them, like packaging and signage. But don’t do it. The result is an inconsistent brand presence . . . the very thing you were likely trying to fix if you redesigned your brand, or want to avoid if you’re launching a new brand. That doesn’t mean that you have to scrap inventory and change everything immediately, but you do need to make your new brand presence completely consistent within 18–24 months.

2. Opportunity for your competition to shine. If you choose the incremental launch over an aggressive one, you’re giving your competition the opportunity to steal your glory. We know of a company who delayed redesigning their packaging for more than two years after their global brand launch. Within that timeframe, their main competitor launched a completely integrated visual identity system, including packaging. You can guess who looked like the leader. Once you’ve redesigned brochures, advertising, electronic presentations or your website, you’ve signaled change. Now everyone knows what your brand is about, but if you’re not applying it consistently across all communications over a relatively short period of time, you’re presenting an inconsistent brand experience. And that’s something your competition can use to their advantage.

3. Not enough exposure to be noticed. No one wants to see their efforts wasted. But that’s what happens when a brand is redesigned and there isn’t enough effort put into getting the message out to the right audiences over time. The key words are “over time”. A successful brand launch ensures adequate exposure through multiple channels over a period of time. Don’t make the mistake of running one ad, one month and calling that your brand launch. You have a window of 3–6 months to call your brand “new” — leverage it.

4. Disengaged internal team members. Don’t underestimate the importance of your internal audience. When budgets are tight you may be tempted not to invest much in communicating internally. But launching your brand goes beyond your print and electronic communications. It all starts with your people, so your team needs to be “on brand” too. Train them, celebrate with a launch party, and provide printed materials that explain the essence of the brand. If your organization is global, translate your communications into local languages so everyone understands. Use desk reference guides, posters and e–mail communiqués to your advantage. You won’t regret making this investment when everyone is excited and engaged.

Ensure your own success. Budget adequately. Be sure your communications are 100% on brand. If you’ve redesigned your brand, commit to changing everything within 18–24 months, making sure your most critical communications are ready on launch day. Be sure to gain adequate exposure. And don’t forget your internal audience.