So, how does The Gumball Factory maximize the strength of your brand to better make decisions, manage and innovate product, and communicate ideas and advantages to the market?
Brand building is not an activity to be undertaken as much as an ongoing process. It’s what you do every day. So it’s critical to begin with a sound foundation. When it’s time to leverage your strength, expand, or pivot in the market, you must balance external trends and market forces with your brand’s purpose and talents. Strong brands react to the market while remaining constant and true to their core values and principles.
The power and potential of your brand are tied to the strength of your foundation and how precisely it’s built. During brand discovery we explore your potential by looking at what you do well, why you are relevant and why riders would want to engage with your brand. This step alone will often bring focus to your current goals and priorities. Then we cross-check those brand assets for strength and alignment with riders and other brand stakeholders. Do they match up? If your true strengths are not apparent to riders, or realized by yourself, then you will face difficulty maximizing the power of your brand and sustaining future demand. When we understand the essence of a brand, however, and we accept the reality of how it creates value in the market, we can suddenly bring a new focus and a new efficiency to our product ranges and our communication strategies.
Brand discovery is critical as it can quickly reveal your potential, but to truly unlock the power of your brand you need to extract tangible and functional concepts. A vibe, an essence, or a feeling can be powerful and important for your brand, but ambiguous concepts provide ambiguous results. What is your purpose? What are your capabilities? Values? Principles? Etc.? Why are you cool, and what makes you relevant? We want to grow those things, we want to leverage those things, so we need to know them and we need to name them to do them well and to do them consistently. A sharp creative team can jump from vibe directly into a brand promotion or marketing tagline, but brand articulation is not about selling your brand (not yet), it is about unlocking of the power of your brand to do more, and drive business. In this phase we shape the ideas uncovered during discovery, or those ideas generated through previous brand work, into tangible and concrete road markers that will define brand direction.
We can make brand more powerful as a decision-making tool, by cleaning up misalignments in our foundation and articulation, if we have the courage to be truly honest. We can attempt to drive short term marketing efforts with dubious statements, but long term sustainable growth is built on our behavior and the actions that define us as a brand. We deceive ourselves when we articulate wishful goals or aspirational behaviors that we hope and intend to adapt. Whenever our statements or products are not aligned with who we truly are, we weaken the brand. During Brand Strengthening, we strip away the catch-phrases and fluff, leaving what is authentic and real. We identify pilllars that are strong enough to build on, those that are dusty and need maintenance, and others that should be abandoned and torn down. This step also serves to identify weakness and areas for growth in our long-term brand development. Our brand is alive, not frozen in time. New pillars can be erected, but not merely as statements, they gain strategic relevance only when supported by actions and behaviors that make them real.
The fun part is putting Brand to work. When you understand your purpose and how you add value things start to fall into place. You can see weaknesses in your product range, you can see opportunities for innovation, you can see new ways to communicate with riders and you can do it all immediately. When brand leads, and your short-term communication and your long-term product strategy are both based on what you truly do well, brand building becomes a full-time job, not a marketing task driven by the technology and features of new product launches.
A great way to put Brand to work and to improve your understanding of these concepts is through stress testing. The Gumball Factory stress test looks at your current product line or your current advertising and communication efforts and analyzes them against your identified strengths. Why are certain products and promotions successful? Is it because those products are superior in some objective way or because they are more brand appropriate? An unsuccessful product may function great, but fail to generate market interest. Products conceived to serve dealer needs may become irrelevant when the relationship is directly with the consumer. The product line exists to support the brand, not the other way around, and a product stress test can quickly identify what’s missing and what is superfluous.
Every communication is a chance to tell your brand story. Our industry is buzzing with brands desperate for attention, full-gas creating content, motivating ambassadors and driving engagement through social media. If only they had something to say. Brand exposure is absolutely critical, but creating market pressure is quite expensive and often inefficient. We increase the value and efficiency of your efforts by distilling the essence of your brand and articulating it in a way that your execution team can simply and consistently weave purpose, principles and values into everything your do. Imagine how easy it can be to engage with riders if you start with a concise brand message, a clear explanation of how your products reflect the brand’s promise, and why the products and technology are relevant to them. We further improve market communication by using rider insight to tailor your message and conceive new spaces where riders can discover your brand. Product developers tend to focus on definitions, descriptions and benefits; that is, things they want you to know. But savvy brands understand that value is defined from the rider’s perspective and that riders want to be engaged and courted, not targeted and sold to.
Basic brand strategy and stress testing can guide product line management and line expansions, but product innovation requires a deeper dive. If your long-term product strategy is driven by technology and user trends, and constrained by your talents and capabilities, you are not using the power of brand. We do not ignore these things, they are, in fact, critical to good design, but they fail to illuminate the true scope of your brand’s opportunity. This concept is new, and suddenly critical, in our market because the bike industry has only recently matured. Just yesterday a timely product could stand out and capture sales alone, but in a post-technology, consumer-driven market it’s not so much about what you have done as why you have done it. Rider’s first demand authenticity and honesty from the brands making experience critical products, then performance and technology. Riders will often forgive missteps in your products, but rarely suffer missteps in your brand. The Gumball Factory will show you how to use the power of brand to conceive new ideas that reflect your ability to create value but also connect emotionally and have the power to spark desire.
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