If you are launching a product, you are at the end of a long line of investment, research, planning and development, and the catalyst for many people’s vision coming to life. Working with a full service design agency will give you access to planning, creativity and processes which allow a successful launch.
As a starting point, there are three core elements of a fantastic launch: people, vision and craft.
Successful launches have two equally important audiences. When Spring launched Adnams’ Ghost Ship beer, our strategy was to focus as hard on pub landlords and their teams as we did on consumers.
Our insight from landlords was that they wanted samples and proper tasting notes, and so they emulated Apple’s detailed product education launches with formal product briefings given to small groups by Adnams’ head brewer. This matters: if internal and consumer-facing staff buy into the product and feel a sense of ownership and pride in the brand, they are the point-of-sale brand advocates who can convert interest to purchase.
When it comes to consumers, anything you can do to get inside their heads will stand your product in good stead. Spring uses ‘immersive briefing’ for creative teams, plunging them into the world of the consumer to ensure they can devise robust launch concepts. To ensure this, we undertake research in various forms, from rigorous academic studies to on-the-ground community group research.
Never underestimate the value of paring your consumer audience down to the smallest possible scale. When creating strategies for Nomura’s Ministry of Defence housing sell-off back in the 1990s, I used to refer to ‘the power of the rotary club’ – now known as hyperlocal targeting. This is the value of harnessing genuine community influencers for small groups in order to gain trust and set a strong platform for launch.
Almost 25,000 new products apply to be registered every year in the UK, and consumers tend to be loyal to 85% of their brand choices. So how is your new product going to cut through?
Product launches must make a strong impression. Sometimes that comes down to well recruited advocacy, sometimes to skillful channel selection and sometimes to sheer audacity.
This year’s Star Wars launch has combined careful planning, strategic use of social media as a marketing platform – linking straight to ticket sales – and influencer recruitment through a LucasFilm convention very early on. So far this has been a three-year process: it takes planning and guts to sustain a single-minded campaign unflinchingly for that amount of time.
Guerilla and experiential marketing are attractive approaches for a powerful launch. Vision has often replaced significant media budget, meaning that small brands can punch well above their weight with an audacious concept, backed up by some serious social media, PR and in store muscle to achieve great return on investment.
Agencies are often briefed on ‘going viral’ as a target. The grim truth is that ‘viral’ is highly unlikely, and in most cases, online content needs the support of round-the-clock management as well as enough advertising budget to boost its profile. The quality of vision applied by an agency in partnership with your team will be the extra quality that turns profile into profit.
See a launch as an opportunity to engage your selected audiences across a variety of platforms. Consider a creative approach to sampling for bloggers and journalists; plan a party or awards for bar staff and shop assistants. Think laterally when selecting media channels and social networks, and be bold when considering the one thing that consumers will take away from the launch.
Our Ghost Ship launch saw us transform Adnams’ brewery into a phantom galleon through the power of 3D projection – all of which was planned to underpin the traditional social media shares, POS and competition programme. It was hugely successful, selling half a million pints during the campaign.
While the media and methods harnessed by agencies and their clients have evolved over the last decade, at the core of any great design agency you will still find a traditional love for the craft. It is this passion for harnessing creative talent and fine-tuning thought and design that make your launch ground-breaking.
Instagram is now the most successful social media brand space, and canny brands are embracing the power of visual appeal for their products. Ted Baker’s recent Cabinet of Curiosities campaign encouraged Instagram fans to apply filters, and in doing so, reveal branded content.
Great visuals also support successful PR, enhance launch event environments, sit at the heart of share-worthy film content and provide the background to a library of content that will support the brand for years to come.
Craft can be articulated across a range of forms. When Spring launched an artisan flour range for Marriage’s, the seventh-generation family-owned milling brand, we recruited artisan bakers as the brand’s first target audience and convinced them it would be fun to do silly things on film.
Bakers jumped from planes, go-karted and tandem-biked in a series of short films set to music, underpinning a consumer campaign that produced user-generated content. These films were storyboarded, filmed and edited with the greatest attention to detail; acutely necessary as brand representations for a business that has quality at its core.
There’s craft in continued delivery too: late, sloppy or lacklustre campaigning does not work, and as launches develop into ongoing brand communications, you and your agency must ensure that social media is monitored rigorously, design and editorial quality is upheld and PR is continually thinking laterally to seize opportunities.
You don’t get any second chances when it comes to a product launch. With the right agency on your side, you will find that their passion for your product, combined with design thinking, will have a transformational effect.
As you start on your journey together towards launch, keep people, vision and craft front of mind – set your objectives around these three things and you are in a very strong position to succeed.