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Woman adding salt to pan
July 24th, 2018

Remember to Add the Most Important Ingredient In Early Stage Development. And In Life.

As some of you may know, Product Innovation is the other half of our practice. We very often collaborate on integrated product and brand programs, especially when a new product or new venture is coming to market. Here’s a quick 2 minute read I penned for the product innovation business, but find just as relevant to the brand experience business. I hope you enjoy it. And hope you are enjoying your summer!

I love old movies. Who can forget the epic John Ford film, “Mr. Roberts,” starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemon, and James Cagney? One of the funniest scenes is when Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemon) is giving the nurses from the local island a tour of the ship, and they happen upon the cook. Pulver, in his desperation to impress, bends down and tastes what’s boiling in the pot. “More salt, Cookie. Needs more salt.” To which Cookie proceeds to drop the dirty dishes into the boiling water.

Salt is one of the most important ingredients in cooking or baking. (Who knows, maybe in cleaning dishes, too.) Even in life, salt sustains us. But it’s often not seen as essential. So, what’s that got to do with early-stage products and services development? By analogy, almost everything.

Let’s say your brand is salt. But no one takes out the shaker in early stage NPD or start-ups. Even though it’s essential to the success of the product or service. When brand is missing, just like with salt, you can tell right away. No flavor. The value of brand in early stage development can’t be overstated—a new product or service with a complete brand expression can create greater awareness and more meaning and value faster, thus shortening the time in the dreaded “Valley of Death.” It can attract additional angel investors and bring VC to you quicker, especially with start-ups, by already appearing to be a complete and organized ongoing concern.

In early-stage development and start-ups, you’re gathering insights and researching your target markets. It’s the perfect time to develop your brand to align with the product or service attributes, and then inform how the product or service will present itself to your end user. The brand can and should help define meaningful innovation that will improve your customers’ lives and their bottom line.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with great success on dozens of early-stage development programs for mid-sized manufacturers and start-ups. By integrating the brand and product development processes, we set a steeper trajectory. We’re able to make more informed decisions on design and brand sooner, effectively shortening the development and scale-up time, and getting you into commercial operations more quickly and efficiently. The packaging and merchandising is more thoughtful and conveys the attributes of the product. The web site UI and UX are more intuitive and reflect the innovation of the product. The instructions are beautifully rendered and effortlessly tell the story of the brand.

BOLTGROUP Integrated Development Process

So, as you ponder your next product or start-up venture, seeking ways to survive early development, consider budgeting for an investment in brand as part of the NPD. The first ROI will be in how it gets you to market sooner and smarter, and how you’ll appear stronger and more buttoned up. A nice dose of salt will make all the difference.

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