Within the period of about a year, two companies decided to adopt a new brand. One company, the Eastern Company was converting from another major brand and the other, the Western Company was branding a long established family company for the first time. Both companies spent a long time carefully planning an exciting launch featuring their new brand relationship with all of the bells and whistles that came with the package. There were a number of similarities in the process for both companies but the results were very different.
The launch date in branding is a day in which the change becomes public and is an opportunity to celebrate, start new ventures, announce plans and in some cases announce a new acquisition occurring simultaneously. It is also the opportunity to take advantage of the change and generate PR, as well as create momentum that moves like a wave building strength as it moves to the crescendo of its destination, retreating to return again using the undercurrents created in the motion.
Both companies had been working for a couple of months building up to the date. Planning in secret, negotiating with companies to be acquired and announced on the date, ordering supplies and preparing for all questions and concerns. Each and every detail was examined to reduce breakage in the change.
The great launch event is the culmination of many smaller launches all occurring within a limited time frame. Internally, the managers and staff had to be told, some on an as needed basis, as they had tasks to prepare for the launch and others in a mini launch.
The Eastern Company was owned and run by partners who were tasked with different roles related to their skills and leadership ability. They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and the ambition to get it done working through barriers as needed. They thrive on change and use change as a business driver.
The Western Company is very conservative and was founded by a person no longer active in the business. The founder, even though retired, is a strong personality, readily voicing opinions and protective positions to the heirs. The founder haunts the company with intimidation and enjoys leveraging wrath and a patriarchal position. The company is an S.O.B. company (son of a business owner) and has another S.O.B. named as the heir apparent.
The day of the event for both companies was spectacular. Excitement and energy was like an electrical current spreading and gaining energy in each person touched. Promises were made and greatness promised. Optimism and opportunity appeared to be an unlimited path in front of each company.
As the limelight of the event faded, the Eastern Company used the momentum and each person in leadership was changed and challenged to drive their component of the business. The Western Company treated it as an event that would soon be relegated to history, with little change actually occurring beyond the branding of marketing and collateral. The leadership in the Eastern Company changed to carry the new mantle forward and adopted the brand, changes and opportunities whereas the Western Company’s leaders returned to their former selves with a new name badge.
The last chapters are yet to be written in this tale, but at this point it appears that the Eastern Company is enjoying a great ride with an engine continuously being fueled with change. Since the brand change, growth has been continuous in spite of the market. Each day is launched to meet opportunity. The Western Company will be challenged to have enough viability to survive to be passed to the named heir apparent. No matter what brand is on its sign, it is the same old company forever stunted in its growth and withering away for lack of passion and leadership.
Great launches spawn opportunity at many junctures but will never save a company afraid of change or led by the timid. The best of launches carry risk, but also benefits that can far outweigh the risk.