How Do You Create a New Brand Category?

new brand category

All Signs Point to a New Brand Category

Traditional wisdom suggests that creating a new brand category is a massive undertaking. In our recent post on category change, we wrote about when it’s time to consider creating a new category. In that post we were clear: undergoing a category change is not something for the faint of heart. If you’re leading the effort, you’ll need thick skin, an iron will, and if you don’t have deep pockets, you’ll need to be extra resourceful.

Creating a new brand category requires big ideas that literally think outside the box — that’s the whole point. You’ll also need a team of decision makers who are comfortable with risk and ready to execute at a fast pace.

Resources, especially money, are another factor. Creating a new category does require an investment that may be exceed your business-as-usual marketing budget. And with that, comes more risk. It’s inevitable that some new categories flop or are slow to show return on investment.

Moving Forward

Regardless, category change still may be the best move for your brand and business. But, it doesn’t have to be a painful and scarily expensive process.

On the contrary, with a plan in place, tenacity, loads of creativity, and a clear vision, creating a new brand category is completely within reach. If there’s been a shift in your corporate strategy, product offering or the market, or if your category is having its own crisis, it could be time to break out. Creating and branding your own category is a proven way to drive your business forward.

Creating a category is a multi-step process that involves defining the category, naming it, and developing a roll-out strategy. Look to the following steps to define your new brand category:

Defining a New Brand Category

1. Research and analyze:

Have a deep understanding of the category dynamics in the current market. What direction is the market going? What’s the threshold for change amongst your target audience? Track the dynamics of existing category labels to determine when a window of opportunity will open up for a new category and give your company the best shot at succeeding. Use data to understand how customers are categorizing emerging brands to fine-tune your new category development.

2. Establish a budget:

Before getting too far down the road, make sure there’s a budget in place for the work you’re about to take on. Defining a new category also requires marketing the new category which can be a drain on resources. However, it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, being able to make the most of a modest budget means you know how to be resourceful, creative, and think about things differently. Once you have a budget in place, the strategy of developing the category becomes easier to determine.

3. Choose a category:

You need to strategically develop a category for Evaluate your business strategy, the competitive set, your own product roadmap, and where your industry is heading. Remember, people need a framework. Your brand needs to fit into the framework of a brand category that people understand and relate to in order to really ‘get’ your brand. To build groundswell around a new category, you’ve got to give people a frame of reference. Until your brand is established as the dominant leader of the category, most people will be reluctant to try something new. It’s human nature to play it safe. The more innovative and disruptive your offering is, the more it needs a frame that people can relate to.

4. Prove your brand is different:

When creating a new brand category, you need to engage your community in a consistent and meaningful way. It’s critical to demonstrate to the people important to your brand why your category matters, and how it offers something better than the existing category. Use the strongest parts of your brand to go beyond basic features and benefits. Prove your brand is poised to be the category leader because its purpose and promise are head and shoulders above the competition (and, there’s always competition). Your proof points will justify the new category and position your brand as the de facto leader, ready to take the stage.

After building the strategy for your new brand category, the hard work can begin: creating the right category name. We’ll identify the key factors to consider when ideating and securing a category name in our upcoming post.

This is the 2nd in a series. Check out When to Create a New Brand CategoryNaming a New Brand Category, and Launching a New Brand Category.

Download our White Paper on Brand Category Creation.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.

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