How To: Launch A New Brand
One of the questions we get asked most often at System1 is how new and smaller brands can build Fame.
In our predictive Fame, Feeling and Fluency model of branding, Fame plays a crucial role. It’s the attribute that best reflects current market share. The more mental and physical availability a brand has, the more quickly and easily it will come to mind as a choice.
But the harsh truth is this heuristic favours big brands. The best way to ensure high Fame is to already have it. Fame is a goal, not a strategy.
Still, every brand started small. If you’re a new brand, or a new player in a market, how do you build Fame?
The single most important thing a new brand can do is make itself distinctive. Define your distinctive assets – the colours, logos, shapes, sounds, slogans etc. you want to own. They build Fluency, making you more recognisable. Spanish banking brand Santander’s UK launch is a great example. It focused on its red-and-white colour ways, its signature 1-2-3 Account product, and the three celebrities it used as the face of the brand. That helped it turn the UK’s “Big Four” banks into a “Big Five”.
Once you’ve established your distinctive assets, stick with them. Don’t invent new ones, don’t play around with them too much (that can come later). Sandwich chain Pret A Manger famously used no TV advertising, but the ruthless consistency of its brand assets meant that every one of its stores served as a kind of billboard.
Distinctiveness and Consistency are things any brand can aim for. The next step is to build availability and positive Feeling. The harsh central truth of brand-building? It’s much easier to do this if you have money.
SPEND (IF YOU CAN)
If you have a budget, invest it in things that increase your mental and physical availability (you need both). These increase your reach, which is still the most important factor in scaling up your brand. The quickest route to mental availability is advertising, and the highest potential reach advertising remains TV. Remember to make sure your advertising reflects your distinctive assets consistently. You might consider a Fluent Device – a recurring character or slogan that can combine distinctiveness and emotion and is proven in recent IPA work to make profitable growth more likely.
Whatever media you can afford to advertise your new brand in, the aim is to make your audience feel something. Extensive IPA analysis has proved that emotional advertising is more effective and more efficient than more rational routes. Put simply, emotion makes your money work harder. It can have a positive short-term impact, too – the success of this classic “Emma” commercial helped minor toilet roll brand Le Trefle launch in six new European markets.
But what if you don’t have much – or any – money to spend? You can still be distinctive and emotional and there are other ways to make resources stretch further.
For big brands, emphasis on the “brand story” can feel self-indulgent and hollow. But if you’re a new brand with no budget, your story is often the only advertising you have. That’s why so many small brands use their packs to tell a story. It has to make people feel something – generic founder tales don’t always cut it.
Physical availability is crucial for brand growth. But it costs money. If you can build your availability in a restricted or local market – like Facebook and Red Bull did in Universities – that local Fame can be a platform for bigger things.
A lot of these ideas – from Fluent Devices to brand stories – are about making your brand easy to talk about. It’s tempting to spend a lot of time and money on social media, but according to Word Of Mouth specialists Engagement Labs, over 80% of WOM still happens offline. A lot comes down to your boldness and imagination – which at least come for free.
These ideas can help a small brand scale. But every big brand at some point had to spend to get big. Brand growth comes through reach, and eventually reach costs money to achieve. When it comes to Fame, you get what you pay for. By following the rest of our advice, you can make your money work harder for your brand, and ensure you’re in the best possible position to succeed when you do hit that point.