Our Budget Methodology for Successful Brand Activation

By Justin Garvin
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Today I’m here to talk about what we typically go through in a brand launch planning process and how you can begin to think about what it’ll take to effectively budget for and activate your new brand strategy with all necessary stakeholders and audiences.

Let me get something out of the way up front. I’m not here to offer you a dollar figure or precise algorithm to budget your brand launch. Quite frankly it’s just not possible. Brand activation budgets vary widely and depend on a number of factors: the size and structure of your business, number of employees, number of physical locations and assets, your sales channels and partnership structures, communication methodologies and marketing requirements, even your internal culture. There comes a time in the planning process when all considerations have been considered. All check boxes have been checked. And only then can a true, strategic brand launch budget be put forth.

When considering the launch of a new or refreshed brand for a client, we break up the requirements and tactics into four major buckets.

How to Effectively Organize Your Brand Launch

  1. Internal Adoption
    Make no mistake, there’s a reason this bucket comes first. Before anything is shared with the outside world, it’s critical to have your people on-board. We’re talking about executive leadership, boards of directors and management staff all the way down the organizational chart. We must provide each and every internal stakeholder (from the CEO to the part-time employee on the production floor) with the training and tools to be able to comprehend and consistently deliver on the brand promise every day.At BrandingBusiness, we accomplish this through a process we call HEAR, BELIEVE, LIVE. We aim to connect the heart and the mind to create internal Brand Champions. At the end of the day, the most important question we can answer for these internal audiences is, “What does this mean to me?”We must communicate how each and every individual fits into the trajectory and future vision for the organization.
  2. Branded Materials
    Alongside the Internal Adoption work steps, we begin to work hand-in-hand with your organization to understand the assets (both physical and digital) that must be considered in the unveiling and future workings of the organization. What materials will need to be updated verbally and visually to ensure consistency of message and the all-important brand experience? What are you utilizing today that should be continued into the future, and what should be retired or created anew? What are you not doing today to communicate your brand that should be part of the new brand activation?As early as possible in the planning process, we prioritize a collaborative and guided Brand Identity Audit. We’ve come to find that it’s eye opening for client and agency alike. Having to categorize all of the various types of assets that need to be addressed and conversing about what is critical (must-haves before an external launch) and what can be put on the back-burner results in a comprehensive outline that can then be associated with budgets, worked into the master timeline, and assigned to task masters with defined roles and responsibilities.
  3. Customer Communications
    This bucket is equally critical to address before a broad-based public launch. You’ve worked hard to build up your current list of customers and prospects. Getting in front of them in a personalized and meaningful way before launch conveys a feeling of trust and allows you to have an open dialogue about what is to come. This is often a lucrative conversation as well. Because of the intrigue garnered from the new brand activity (and the psychology that comes with privileged information), these customers and prospects are typically willing to have more detailed and lengthy conversations about what your organization can offer them going forward.Understanding how communications are handled with these audiences today, how to best utilize those channels, and how to potentially break the mold to attract more attention are critical parts of our Customer Communications strategy at launch.
  4. External Marketing
    Marketing is an area where most of our clients come to the table with a fair amount of experience. They’ve been involved with print and digital media, public relations, trade shows, and direct marketing for some time. Something to understand, however, is that when it comes to external marketing at the time of a brand launch, it’s not simply business as usual. It’s a time of introduction. A time when education, understanding and awareness of the high-level brand promise trumps all else.The market needs to know what your organization stands for, what’s changed, and why they should care. Complex messaging about service or product offerings needs to be replaced with simple and focused language backed by core brand positioning. Existing channels need to be supplemented with new thinking. Frequencies and impressions need to be increased to ensure proper exposure. It’s not uncommon for the external component of a brand activation to require double what organizations are accustomed to spending over a period of 3-6 months.

Each equally important to an effective and engaging brand launch, the buckets above represent a true process of co-creation. Every launch strategy created is customized and unique to an organization’s structure and needs. By understanding the components and considerations within each bucket, we’re able to map timing, define roles, and prepare a budget that works for you. Again, there isn’t a magic dollar figure I can give you. It’s not one size fits all. But what I’ve hopefully given you is an understanding of what it’ll take to get there.

If you’re ready to talk with someone about your brand, please feel free to reach out so we can discuss the strategy that’s right for you.