Six Ways to Calm Your Fear of Launching a New Brand
Here at Atomicdust, we work with clients all the time who are launching new products or announcing other big changes like mergers or acquisitions. Navigating these changes represents the very definition of risk-and-reward for all involved: there are challenges ahead, but the payoffs can be incredible.
The bad news? There’s no one approach, no magic formula that’s going to guarantee success. However, to get you started, we’ve gathered a few (six, in fact) of the tips that can help you move forward with confidence.
First, start your branding work with internal teams.
The first thing you should do is talk to your employees. In fact, starting inside is so important, it’s not just the first step – it’s the first three. Why? Because no one has more control over how your customers experience your products and services than your own people.
This is true whether you’re a professional services firm or selling a physical product to a consumer. After all, these days, every business is a people business – from B2B to B2C and everywhere in between.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to communicate consistent messages and deliver consistent experiences to your customers. And aligning internal resources is the best first step toward that goal.
Get everyone on board.
A brand, like company culture, can’t be dictated from above. In many ways it’s an ever-evolving thing, a reflection of how your employees interact with your customers.
With this in mind, it makes sense that, as you develop new branding or positioning, voices from every corner should be heard. Involve employees at all levels of your organization. Conduct interviews. Take a survey. Hold “town halls.” Let every voice be heard. After all, people are more likely to embrace the change if they feel they’ve had a role in its development.
Set a standard.
Getting input from everyone is a key step in developing an internal set of standards, guiding language and principles. The important part isn’t that everyone remembers the exact words of a mission statement. And this is about so much more than graphics standards for your new logo. This is about having a solid foundation for everything you do and say.
It’s the best way to make sure the ways you’re working with your customers are consistent with the promises your new brand is making.
What’s the alternative, you ask? Well, not to focus on the negative, but one bad experience can tarnish your brand. Make sure every employee is prepared to live up to the promise of your new brand.
Launch the brand internally.
Ah, yes. Launch day. Talk about anxiety! It’s time to give everyone – yes, everyone – an introduction to your brand and positioning language. From HR to marketing, manufacturing to customer service and accounting to procurement (and beyond), you never know when someone is going to have a chance to impact a customer’s experience.
So how do you let people know? Have a party. Give away some swag. Create a video. Get everyone excited, because that’s the best way for them to take ownership of what’s next – telling your customers all that’s new.
This is the approach we took a few years ago with Premise Health, helping the newly merged company launch its new brand while uniting two seemingly disparate cultures. Following a series of employee interviews, we created a brand – and an internal launch strategy – that brought people together.
Of course, there were intranet tools and swag with the new branding, but we also helped Premise Health coordinate an internal event to build excitement and lay the foundation for the external launch. Posters around the office teased the new look, and on the day of the event, employees gathered for a presentation from leadership officially unveiling the new brand. Even remote employees were able to join via livestream.
The coordinated effort generated excitement about the new brand, but more importantly, created lasting pride in being part of something important.
And now, before you go outside, a deep breath.
Now that everything is in line with your internal team, it’s finally time to take your message to your customers and prospects. Remember, this is a big deal for you. It’s the biggest thing you (and maybe your agency partners) are working on. But honestly, unless you’re Apple or Google, your customers probably don’t care about what’s coming up as much as you do.
Your job (and maybe your agency’s job), of course, is to make them care – even a little.
The important thing is to take a deliberate, strategic approach. It’s time to start thinking about your customers. Show them you’ve been thinking about their problems, and that you have a few new ideas for solving them.
Time it right, and take your time.
Consider the timing. Launch when people might already be talking about your company, or your competitors. Trade shows? Seasonal buying opportunities? Take advantage of conversations you’re already having to introduce the new identity. This approach saves money, but also lets you reach out to customers when they’re already receptive to messages from you.
And as you think about introducing a new look or new message, give people a chance to get used to it. Give them a reassurance that you’re still the same company. We took this approach when we launched the new website for restaurant Crazy Bowls & Wraps. At the top of their new website, there’s a temporary banner, “Don’t worry, you’re in the right place!” It’s a reassuring message, in the tone of the new brand – very much targeted at people who were expecting something else.
This approach is especially important as you consider the real world: most of the time, you simply won’t be able to switch everything all at once. The web, letter head, business cards, trade show graphics, sales presentations – it all takes time and money.
Segment your launch message.
So how do you get people interested? Talk to them directly. Speak to their needs – not your internal divisions or motivations for making a change. That means thinking like your customers and taking a close look at what motivates their purchasing decisions. It’s a little more work, but it’s worth it.
Of course, when you start thinking like your customers, you’ll recognize they’re not all alike. Some of your customers might simply need reassurance that you’re still going to provide the level of service they expect. Warm prospects, who are already in your sales funnel, might be intrigued about what’s new. And people who have never heard of you may be ready for your new fresh approach to their problems.
Again, this was the approach we used as we helped Premise Health launch their brand to their external audiences. This was a merger of two large companies with two historically different approaches to the same business. The new company promised to capture the best of both philosophies, and we used targeted messages to customers and prospects of both companies to drive this point home, which helped make the brand launch a successful one.
Carefully crafted and targeted messages at launch also help your sales people continue to focus on selling, rather than asking questions about the new brand or other changes you might have in store.
We don’t have to tell you that traditional “branding” has a bad reputation in today’s measure-everything culture. It’s often dismissed as “soft sell.” It’s time to break down that wall. Let your new branding effort be the kick prospects need to learn more.
How do you do it? Strategically and tactically, make sure the language you’re using, at some point, asks for something. Are you asking for information (such as an email address), to schedule an appointment, or for an outright purchase? Are you asking for newsletter sign-ups? Or getting people to follow you on social media? The calls to action can vary, but the key, of course, is to actually ask.
And equally important: when people do ask, you have to answer. Make sure your team is ready to follow up the leads you receive on your site, following the standards you’ve established early on in the process.