Retail Product Branding: 10 Surprising Considerations

This question came in on Quora.
I think of branding as a very encompassing term, meaning that it covers all areas of the business. Therefore, these ten areas include many items that are not traditionally thought of as branding in the strict sense. The most logical thing to do, if you're pressed for time, is find one person or company that can connect you to the rest. But if you don't have budget for all of this, you probably want to start with the lowest barrier to entry item, i.e. web and social media, and of course financing and manufacturing. Then you can work your way upward as you evolve.
  1. Strategy: Why are you in this game? What do you want to get out of it? What are the competitors doing versus what do you have to offer? What are your chances of failure? What don't you want to confront? Where does your greatest hope lie? Who are your allies? How are you going to protect your advantage? In short, think before you leap.
  2. Research: Who is your audience? How well do you know them? What are their habits? Why should they choose you and not somebody else? How will you change their buying behavior, or introduce your new product as an item of interest?
  3. Manufacturing: Let's say the demand for your product is huge. How will you make the product and distribute it? Who is going to handle that and how will you ensure quality?
  4. HR: Do you have the right people behind your brand? If not, how do you recruit them? Retain them? Compensate them? Who will lead day-to-day? Manage? Who are your subject matter experts? Are they the best? What is your work/life arrangement like, for them? Who will be your advisor and call BS to your face?
  5. Finance and Budget: Who's backing your venture? Can you get funding? If it's just you and your checkbook, know that most new businesses fail. What if you fail? How will you get this endeavor off the ground without losing your shirt? How much money do you have at your disposal and how much will you spend on Item A, Item B, etc.
  6. Name: What are you going to call your product? What will you call the products related to it? What is the name of the company overall? How do these names fit together?
  7. Logo Design: What are you going to do that's different and that will get you positive attention from the customers you're trying to reach?
  8. Patent and trademark: How will you protect your intellectual property? Can you defend your chosen identity symbols? What about your product, how easy is it to copy and how will you protect it?
  9. Web and Social Media: How will you establish a manageable presence online? Who will staff it, write content and keep it fresh? How will you build community?
  10. PR: When you're ready to get your name out there, who will do it? How do you know they'll be successful? Where can you get the biggest bang for the buck?
If you need help with your retail product brand, there are many qualified companies who can help. I am good at brainstorming and Joey is a web and social media whiz so you can feel free to contact me, if only for a referral or just a complimentary ten-minute sounding-out session, time permitting.
All opinions are the author's own. Photo by Schwedische Botschaft via Flickr Creative Commons.