5 Tips for Forging a New Brand

8513073813_b06cefeb80I’ve launched a couple of my own companies, and helped more than a half dozen other brands as well as others’ book projects launch. The media landscape changed, but there are common approaches I would execute today if I were to launch a new company and brand.

Here are my top five activities for forging a new brand:

1) Align with stakeholders: Usually a company, brand or service is created with a vision in mind, a way to do things better. But sometimes that entrepreneurial vision is not in line or positioned well with market needs.

So I would align my offering with real or perceived market needs by listening and participate in social communities related to the brand topic. Participation will be helpful later on as you will see.

2) Create a fun accessible brand: This means creating a very simple value proposition, logo, and web site that clearly 1) engages stakeholders with obvious value and 2) is modern and clean in its look. That includes making sure the site is easily shareable.

Keep in mind that entrepreneurs and companies try to explain way too much in their message. Complexity is the enemy here.

3) Plan a surprise: Too many brand launches start with a simple blog post, press release or an email that says, “We’re open for business.” Or “we are opening for business in three months.” That serves no one but the business/brand owner with a congratulatory self-pat on the back.

Develop a surprise launch. The surprise has to be fun or engaging, and related to the brand, while serving the community. It must be stunning, and not typical. Getting the mayor to cut the ribbon does nothing, so to speak.

4) Prepare for the long march: Too many launches include just the launch and not much else afterwards. Marketing and product or service takes time, a long time before market acceptance occurs.

I like having a marketing road map and budget in front of me, so I am prepared for the early adoption phase. After the surprise wears off the march begins.

5) Pre-seeded acceptance: Remember that community and all of the participation we invested in during step 1? I like giving the community an early taste, and cultivating early successes and testimonials BEFORE the launch.

The first sale is the hardest. Show others are already using your product or service, and like it. This is a critical credibility step. If the community hates the initiative, you have a problem and should consider delaying the launch.

So those are my five must have steps for a strategic brand launch. What are yours?

A version of this post originally ran on the Vocus blog.