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This Chapter:

Launch

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Launch

By Mark Brinn
In this chapter, learn about the art and strategy behind launching a brand. Explore the key components of a successful launch, from crafting a comprehensive launch plan, building anticipation during the pre-launch phase, to choosing the right launch channels. We'll also take a look at a few successful brand launches and what made them work so well.

The Art of Launching a Brand

Launching a brand is like launching a rocket. You’ve got your mission (Purpose), your crew (Identity), and your destination (Audience). You’ve got your special technology that sets you apart (Speciality). Everything is in place, ready for the countdown. 

But launching a brand is more than just hitting the ignition. It’s about making sure your rocket is seen by the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

Defining Your Launch Goals

First things first, you need to know what you’re aiming for. Just like a spaceship needs a destination before blasting off, your brand needs clear, well-defined goals before launching. This isn’t just about making a big splash. It’s about setting your brand on the right course for long-term success.

So, ask yourself:

  • What do you want to achieve with this launch?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What impact do you want your brand to have on your target audience?

You might want to attract a certain number of customers, generate a specific amount of revenue, or achieve a particular market share. Maybe you’re aiming to disrupt your industry, or perhaps you’re hoping to build a loyal community around your brand. Whatever your goals, make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Identifying Your Target Audience

Next, you need to get a clear picture of who you’re launching your brand for. We covered this topic in depth int the Audience chapter.

This isn’t about trying to appeal to everyone. It’s about understanding who your ideal customers are, what they need, what they value, and how your brand can meet those needs and values.

Consider their:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, income, etc.)
  • Psychographics (interests, attitudes, behaviors, etc.)
  • Pain points (problems that your brand can solve)

Crafting Your Communication Strategy

Now, it’s time to plan how you’re going to introduce your brand to your target audience. This involves everything from the language and tone you use (check out Voice) to the platforms you choose for your launch.

You’ll need to:

  • Develop key messages that communicate your brand’s Purpose and Speciality
  • Decide on the channels you’ll use to reach your audience (social media, email, PR, events, etc.)
  • Plan your launch timeline, including any pre-launch, launch, and post-launch activities

<Picture a megaphone broadcasting your brand’s key messages across various channels, reaching your target audience.>

Remember, your launch isn’t just a one-off event. It’s the start of an ongoing conversation with your customers. So, think about how you’ll continue to engage and delight them after the initial buzz has worn off. We’ll get into this more in the Engage and Maintain chapters.

Y Combinator: A Case Study

Imagine having a team of experts guiding you through the tricky process of launching your brand. That’s what Y Combinator does. They’re like your own personal pit crew, fine-tuning your brand until it’s ready to hit the market full speed.

If you are launching a digital product, I would take a long hard look and see if a program like Y Combinator might be right for you.

The Process

Y Combinator provides a structured process, a network of experts, and a community of fellow entrepreneurs. It’s a 3-month boot camp where startups are put through their paces. Here’s a quick overview of the process.

  1. Selection: Y Combinator receives thousands of applications. They pick the most promising startups. This isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about potential.
  2. Funding: Selected startups receive an investment in return for a small stake in the company. This is the fuel for your brand’s engine.
  3. Mentorship: Startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months. Here, they receive guidance from industry experts. This is where your brand gets tuned up.
  4. Demo Day: At the end of the 3 months, startups present their progress to a room full of investors. This is your brand’s grand debut.

Y Combinator Success Stories

Success isn’t guaranteed. But with Y Combinator’s help, many startups have crossed the finish line in style. The likes of Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit have all been through this process. They’ve all felt the rush of a successful brand launch.

<Image from Y Combinator>

Let’s take a deeper dive into these a few success stories.

Dropbox: Simplifying Storage

Dropbox, a cloud storage service, is a prime example of a successful brand launch. The founders, Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, understood the importance of identifying their audience and tailoring their brand identity to meet their needs.

<Dropbox Logo>

They focused on simplicity and accessibility, two things their target audience—busy professionals and students—valued highly. Their logo, a blue box, perfectly encapsulates this simplicity.

Engaging Early Users

Dropbox didn’t just launch and hope for the best. They engaged their audience early on. They created a demo video that went viral in the tech community, effectively using their story and delivery to generate buzz.

<Dropbox demo video>

Expansion Through Referrals

Dropbox’s expand strategy was equally brilliant. They implemented a referral program, giving users extra storage space for every friend they brought on board. This turned their customers into advocates, a powerful strategy outlined in the enlist chapter.

Airbnb: Making Travel Personal

Airbnb’s brand launch success story is different but no less impressive. Founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk saw an unmet need in the travel market: affordable, personal accommodations.

Crafting a Unique Identity

They crafted a unique brand identity, focusing on the idea of belonging anywhere. Their logo, the Bélo, represents this idea perfectly.

<The Airbnb logo>

Engaging with Storytelling

Airbnb also excelled in engaging their audience. They told stories of hosts and travelers, making the brand more relatable and appealing.

<Airbnb’s stories.>

Expanding Globally

Airbnb’s expand strategy involved global growth. They localized their website and services for different countries, making their brand accessible and appealing worldwide.

<Airbnb’s global expansion was like a map filling up with pins, each one representing a new place to belong.>

These two examples illustrate the power of a well-executed brand launch. Dropbox and Airbnb understood their audience, crafted a strong brand identity, engaged their users, and had effective expansion strategies. They’re proof that with the right approach, any brand can make a big splash in the market.

Conclusion

Launching your brand is a big deal, but it’s just the first step. What’s really important is what comes after the launch. That’s when you start to Engage with your customers. This means building strong, lasting relationships, keeping your customers happy and interested, and creating a community around your brand.

Getting Ready to Engage

When we talk about engagement, we’re not talking about a contest. It’s all about working together. You have to listen to your customers, take their comments seriously, and always work to give them what they want. The goal isn’t ‘winning’, but learning and changing so you can keep your customers happy.

Let’s take a look at how this back-and-forth with customers helps you and your brand grow together. After all, a brand that really listens and grows with its customers is a brand that will do well in the long run.

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