Think + Do » an exploration of mission-driven marketing and design

Navigating Brand Success

Launching a new product or service is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Launching a brand is an even more perilous proposition requiring ample doses of skill, planning, and the coordinated efforts of an entire organization.

Why does one effort fail and another succeed? Though good fortune can never be underestimated, successful branding is not a game of chance. As the architect Mies van der Rohe once said, “God is in the details.”

Get support from the top.
Visible endorsement and budget commitment from the boss is essential. The director of marketing or communications cannot successfully launch a brand without it. Everyone in the organization needs to understand that branding is a priority.

Process matters as much as product.
The success of any branding effort depends as much on internal adoption as any new logo or tagline. Listen to your staff and existing customers, not to water down recommendations, but to understand how this change will affect them.

Include the right people at the right time.
Gathering broad input is valuable early in the process and disastrous late. But it’s not enough to be inclusive, you have to ask the right kinds of questions. Don’t ask loaded, open-ended questions such as: Do you like this? Frame your inquiry around well-defined project goals, for example: Which option better captures our brand position?

Centralize control.
As Charles Kettering warned, “If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.” Democracy is a wonderful thing, but everyone’s opinion cannot be treated equally here. Project leaders need the authority to lead – and permission to use it.

Branding is a marathon, not a sprint.
The brand is launched! Everyone’s excited! Now what? Guide expectations with regular updates and results so internal audiences understand that effective brand execution is an ongoing effort – and the day-to-day delivery of that brand will determine its success.

Have you seen – or launched – a successful nonprofit brand campaign? What were the keys to its success?

Related Content:

Cautionary Tales
Gap Scraps New Logo
Drake’s D+
Tropicana Packaging Blunder

Brand Success Stories
William & Mary Mascot Search
American University: The American Wonk
North Dakota: RU Legendary?

2 thoughts on “Navigating Brand Success

  1. I think “hindering the process” might be in some people’s job description, Elizabeth!

  2. I especially agree with the point about centralizing control. It seems to be so important to keep in mind who you are including and what positive or constructive input they are offering. Some people can only hinder the process.

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