Five Questions to Ask Before Launching Your Brand

As a public relations professional, I’ve worked with a lot of startup brands who were very eager to begin media outreach, build their social networks and develop a public relations program.

I found that some brands were more prepared than others to properly launch a brand with a long-term strategy for scalability and growth.

It is not at all uncommon for an entrepreneur to be passionate and reactive with a new business idea. In fact, it’s quite admirable.

But, there is also a lot to be gained from taking a step back and asking yourself a few questions before you hit the market with your next big idea. Here are five critical questions that you should ask yourself before you take the plunge and launch your new brand or business.

Why does my brand exist?

Before you can build a strong brand, it’s important that you define your purpose and goals.

In 2014, I helped an entrepreneur launch a new fashion app—a high-end designer shopping app targeted to millennials. Before he had developed a long-term strategy, he hired a few local industry influencers who all had their own ideas about how to define the brand.

As a result, the company flung itself into several different (costly) off-brand marketing initiatives that targeted the wrong demographic and used messaging that didn’t position the brand in the best light.

Once you have defined your purpose and goals, make sure that everything you do will help you strengthen that purpose or define one of those goals.

What is the problem my brand is solving? 

Whether you’re building a new brand or refreshing an existing one, brands that solve problems for their customers generally do better than those that don’t provide a solution to a real life problem.

Sometimes you have a great idea, but you don’t know what problem you’re actually trying to solve.

Let’s use Donuts Inc., for an example of this in action. The company’s co-founders saw a need for an expanded Internet namespace so they set about bringing hundreds of new domain name extensions to market.

They identified the problem—scarcity in domain name choices online. They identified the solution—a panoply of domain name extensions like .agency, .marketing, .media, .life, and .world. These new domain extensions opened up the Internet namespace to a tremendous amount of variety and choice for businesses and individuals seeking more creative domain names.

Sometimes solving even the simplest problem can lend itself to strong brand positioning.

Who are my customers? 

When you’re launching a brand, it’s tempting to want to be everything to everyone. You are excited and passionate about your product or idea and you think everyone else should be too.

I’ve worked with a number of brands that, when asked who their target demographic is, have told me, “men and women, ages 18-64.” So, pretty much everyone. A lot of brands automatically target “moms” because they make household purchasing decisions. But that’s a very broad target and not always the best choice.

It really helps to drill down who your core target audience is, and who your secondary audiences are. A few years ago, I worked with a wine brand known for its innovative packaging, which the company’s CEO had invented. The packaging was portable and kept wine fresh for up to four weeks.

The portability and innovative brand Approach lent itself to a millennial audience. But our second biggest audience was not the Gen Xers one might expect. The brand’s secondary audience was actually the 55+ demographic: people who won’t drink a whole bottle of wine in two or three days and thus appreciated the packaging.

Because we targeted media and influencers that reached the core audiences we wanted to reach, we were successful in earned media, influencer marketing, and product placement. When you know who your customers are, you can build a strong, engaged community.

What is my brand personality?

Instead of letting your brand evolve over time, define it up front. The two most important things in your company’s branding arsenal are its name and its domain name.

Your company name tells the world who you are, but your domain name is often your ‘online calling card,’ which can reveal a lot about your business.

It’s easier than ever for you to communicate your brand’s personality by using one of the hundreds of new domain name extensions that are now available to tell the world not only who you are, but exactly what business you’re in.

Companies in all industries are using fresh, differentiated domain names to communicate their name and purpose, plus their brand personalities.

Amici Catering uses www.amici.catering because amici.com tells the customer nothing about their business. Similarly, www.driftaway.coffee tells the world that this Brooklyn-based business is a coffee company.

These domain names give the business owners the power to show the world their creativity with their name to the left of the dot, but using very specific domain name extensions to communicate who they are and what they do.

Some other great examples are www.warriorpoet.clothing, www.dropzone.marketing, and www.citylife.church.

 

How will my brand evolve? 

When you have a great idea for a business or brand, it’s easy to see how you can be successful in the short term. It’s a little more challenging to envision your one-, five- or 10-year plan.

Even though this is a challenge for all businesses, we live in a world where digital innovation happens suddenly and quickly, so it can be difficult to keep up.

This is where it helps to have that engaged digital audience. Listen and respond to your audience and their needs. If they’re seeking new products, new innovations, you want to create plans to deliver. Your audience can often tell you a lot about your business from different perspectives.

Some of the biggest brands that do this very well are Apple, Starbucks and Lego — a brand that has a creative and innovative way of letting their community decide what new products should be. These are brands constantly delivering new products, programs and functionalities to keep customers returning and relying on their brands.

Now that you’ve answered these five critical questions, you’re ready to launch your brand and set up for long-term success.


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Maris Callahan is the director of public relations for Donuts Inc. and name.kitchen, where she does media relations, content marketing, and social media. She lives in Chicago with Brad, her significant other, and their chihuahua Henry. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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