Senior executives frequently tell us how disappointed they are
with new product launch performance. It’s an expensive and risky business so
it’s understandable. This frequently results in a “numbers game” (launch
as many products as we can in the hope we succeed) or “no game” (don’t launch
anything as it’s too damn expensive) logic. Either scenario is symptomatic of
panic, poor customer insight and not understanding brand.
When confronted with product launch performance issues we encourage executives to build brands then launch products that are 1) on brand and 2) help
customers get jobs done. Why?
Brands span categories, products don’t.
Armani started with exclusive clothing. Emporio, Exchange, hotels and even a Cafe followed. People identify
with Armani and what it stands for (its essence). Italian styling. Armani then launched products that were “on brand” and helped carefully defined
segments get jobs done. It’s the brand connection that facilitated new product
Brands and humans are emotional.
Brands are associated with values, an
essence, promises etc. These are primarily emotional. Humans are emotional. Product
marketers’ tend to conceive products in functional ways. Considering, the
functional jobs the product will help the customer get done is a good place to
start but this needs an emotional wrapper to drive purchase. Brand helps with
People buy brands not products.
Just ask anyone in the Middle East why
Lexus isn’t getting traction. People know it’s a Toyota and this turns them
off. Everyone says they’re good cars. Something has gone wrong with the brand.
Bvlgari has launched a hotel in London which is run by Ritz Carlton. Bvlgari are not hoteliers but their target market identifies with what Bvlgari
stands for. The brand and not the fact they make clothes or watches has
helped Bvlgari launch a new product in a new market where they are not even
managing the product delivery. That’s quite incredible.
Brands stand for something your target customer identifies with.
provides a powerful platform for new product launch. Launch products that are
“on brand”. In other words launch products that tune into the emotional
connection your brand makes with your target market. Audi’s 4×4 heritage
has helped it move into the SUV space with its Q7 and lock horns with
formidable brands like Range Rover.
Brands have longevity if their personalities sustain a relevant emotional
Fairy liquid is a classic example. Mom looking
after the family by using Fairy has been used since the 1960’s
up to the 2012 Olympics. Changes in functional benefits
e.g. removing grease, being good for your hands etc., are noticeable but the
advertisements have an element of déjà vu. Mom at home taking care of the family. The target market identifies with job they need to get done (wash the
dishes) but this has been carefully updated to retain relevance at an emotional
level (taking care of the family). Oh, and guess what? Fairy now sells washing
detergent and dishwashing powder. The brand has helped Proctor &
Gamble do this.
So what? To ease the path to product launch start with your brand i.e. values,
essence, promise and positioning. Think about the jobs your target customers
need to get done. Next think about products you can launch that help them
solve these problems and get those jobs done. Finally, only launch the
products that fit with your brand because you’ll be operating at an emotional
level and that’s how humans make decisions.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Dr. Darren Coleman, Managing Consultant,Wavelength Marketing®
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
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