Don’t skip this step. If you want to know the difference between the giants and the bankruptcies, you’ll find that all the industry giants spend millions on pre-testing, and a staggering majority of the bankruptcies “didn’t see the need,” launching straight into full production and sinking their life savings, homes and kids’ college careers into their “vision”.
Just look at Hollywood. J.J. Abrams didn’t just spring the epic “Star Wars” trilogy straight from the editing booth. Multiple pre-screenings are run to see how:
- The public reacts to specific scenes
- The public accepts “sticky points” in the story
- The public likes particular characters
- The public prefers a particular ending
And there are many more metrics that each director decides on by personally observing audience reactions and listening to feedback given at their pre-screenings before finally going with their gut.
So continue to measure and re-assess at pre-defined intervals throughout your branding process to make sure you are still on target.
Your test points should include:
- Pre-release – test both your product (name, functionality, appeal) and your branding strategy on a closed, limited-run chunk of your target audience. For example, make it a free bonus to an industry leader’s affiliates or a Special Offer for members of one or more of your niche’s focused forums. Or offer free samples to the first XX people who sign up for your newsletter.
- Post-launch – To see how on target your expectations and predictions actually turned out. After that, it’s up to you to decide at which points you will officially test and re-measure your branding metrics (though analyses should be going on all the time, behind the scenes). If you don’t adopt this process, no matter how wildly successful you are at launch point, inevitably the train runs off the rails, sabotaged by that absolute enemy of testing, assumption, which always loses you money.
When you are in your initial planning stages, put serious thought into:
- Which elements in your product should always be consistent… and which can change without negatively affecting sales?
- Which parts of your business offerings should stay consistent, and where to plan for growth and expansion?
- How you will maintain consistency?
- Which elements your target market wants always kept “the same?
- How you will maintain consistency during expansion?
The elements to consider should always include Brand logo, fonts, colors, taste, graphics, scents, textures, tag-lines, symbols, text elements, and presentation.
Testing and making sure you invite engagement and feedback will help you define the answers to the above questions – without the need for a crystal ball.
When you have all these elements taken care of, and you have followed these steps and procedures, you will only then begin to build true brand familiarity.
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