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Design agency and crowdfunding a product. What strategies are there for doing a double brand?

Over the past few years our company has made a number of wonderful product designs for customers in the ad specialty space.

Ad specialty in our case or advertising is usually only small quantities of 10 - 25 pieces. We've had a good response to the products, people actually wanting them in real life. For one, there are thousands of signups and our original customers have no interest in making product. This is a good thing, right?

Now, we are redoing our site and going to do crowdfund some of these projects and make them products. However, they have all kinds of names and are associated with different brands or ideas. We have hired a branding expert and are re-branding our entire site (name stays the same) with new logo, copy, and brand strategy.

We are asking ourselves: how do we remain the definitive "go to"partnership group for brands to build their specialty products and yet still produce sell product? Seems like a different business approach. We need the partnerships to continue innovation and build rapport; at the same time we want to get some products that people want into their hands of customers.

This is a design agency wanting to branch out and make a name for themselves in another area. Peter Diamandis always says if you have a choice, pick both. Put your mind the the space of Charles and Ray Eames and you'll be in the right headspace to answer.

Has anyone else had to do this? We are looking for STRATEGY on how to help create focus and clarity. Love to see links to articles or examples of other people/agencies who have done successful product kickstarters but their main bag is partnership clients?

5 Replies

Kathleen Hoertkorn
1
0
Kathleen Hoertkorn Entrepreneur
President at DeMatei & Co., Inc
Maybe you want to consider a product like Optomizely on your site so that you can test various strategies quickly and reasonable. They have partners that can do the testing for you - very reasonable and will give you results quickly.
Irwin Stein
1
0
Irwin Stein Advisor
Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.
Consider that these 2 business models may not need to be under the same brand. Your ad agency takes assignments from different companies. Developing a brand for your service and including specific products can have a limiting effect. The brand for the ABC agency may stress your creative abilities, but I assume that you will take any client who is willing to pay whether they sell lingerie or tractors. Once you develop a brand that says "Luxury or consumer or industrial; products by ABC agency", you may create the impression that you only accept agency jobs from certain types of companies or certain types of products. You may be fine with this or you can keep the products and the agency separate. I am all for branding, but the ad agency that I used for selling products always told me that maximum breadth and flexibility was important. If you are going to brand your products they must be similar enough to be sold to the same people who will become loyal to your brand and its attributes.
Scott McGregor
2
0
Scott McGregor Entrepreneur • Advisor
Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.
Separate the two businesses. Completely different names and brands. The new company is the exclusive licensee to manufacture and distribute products in bulk originally developed for small quantity manufacturing by the first company in course of engagement with its ad clients. Ownership of both companies can be the same. The Chinese wall between the two companies is needed to avoid confusing the entirely different customer bases as what you do. By separating the two each can unambiguously describe a single focus for a single audience. Scott McGregor, [removed to protect privacy], (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone
JOHN LAURO
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JOHN LAURO Entrepreneur
Recruiter/Vending Machine Provider
Mr.Stein 's last sentence is critical.
Your loyal customers or what I call my base.
Is established thru your TMR. Target Market Research and execution/penetration of that market.Your agency's ability to capture that market.Is the number one .
Three rules I have lived by for the last 25 years.
Target Your Market.
Capture Your Market
Service Your Customers

Your agency must help you accomplish this as quick as possible.

Andrew Chapman
1
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Andrew Chapman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Publishing Entrepreneur and Author
Peter Diamandis may have said "pick both," but Confucius more famously said, "He who chases two rabbits catches none." I worked at two significant branding agencies for a few years, and I completely agree with Scott McGregor that this most likely should be two different brands. It is risky to try to parlay the reputation of an established brand into something different (Harley-Davidson wine coolers anyone?). Plus, while building a separate brand can be expensive, it can be even more expensive to educate the public on two different models. There's another saying that comes to mind: "If you're explaining, you're losing." That's from political campaigning, but a political campaign is the ultimate brand-building endeavor. So, my concern is that I see a lot of explaining in the process of putting forth these two ventures under one brand.

That said, you do have a couple things in your favor - one is B2B; the other is B2C. That's helpful. One's a service-based business; the other's a product-based business. Those factors can help support two pursuits under one brand umbrella; however, it will have to be done flawlessly. And what seems like less work (one brand) can actually end up being more work and money than creating two brands.

I know you asked for success stories, but I have none. At those branding agencies, we always recommended and implemented two brands in a situation like yours (as I understand it based on the limited info). You can still have one company - but the service and product aspects would be two brands.

One solution without two brands I can think of is presenting your business as a product-based company (B2C) that offers the capability of customized and specialty runs of those products (B2B). This is the opposite of what Scott wrote, and I'm not saying it's better than his, but another viable approach.
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