We all work to bring products and services to life, from the initial idea to the full product life-cycle.
So, what do we do? We first find a need or a problem, a gap in the market if you will, and try to find the best possible solution by training ourselves to think like our customers. Hence, the product people are often problem-solvers, as they can deliver something of value to other people.
The way we do that is mostly by rationalizing the vision and breaking it into small, tangible parts. This makes it possible for the team members to build it and bring it to market. We use techniques, tools, frameworks (roadmaps, scrum, etc.) and documentation (MRD, PRD, etc., you know, all these… beautiful acronyms that give a sense of “more science than art”) to assist us in communicating what needs to be done and keeping track of the progress along the way.
In brief, we help build a product which consists of features and functionalities.
But a product is mostly a perception in the mind of the end-user, not a list of product attributes.
We often believe that branding is solely a role for the Marketing team, something that “they’ll deal with once we produce it.”
On the contrary. Branding is the key ingredient in the success or failure of a product — and more often than not, it is more important than the quality of the product itself. You can always improve the features and make a product better, but you can rarely change people’s perception of your product.
Put simply, branding is way too important to leave it –at the end- to the Marketing folks.
As Seth Godin defines it: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Bearing that in mind, I’ve recently tried to re-think product management procedures and I’ve started to ask myself, “Why not build a brand before actually building a product?”
To do that, I try to have a crystal-clear vision of the final product — whether it’s a part of other products or not — as a stand-alone brand.
— Could this product become a brand?
— Is the product conveying a single concept/idea to anyone who’s building it?
— Does it have a story to tell? If yes, what’s the story behind the product?
— Could this product-brand create a profound connection with the people who are going to buy and use it to make their lives better?
If we stop and think above beyond the specs and functionalities of our product, we can easily focus on the impact the product will have on our customers.
It’s clear to me that it’s the brand that should be driving the product development, not the other way around.
Ultimately, we’re here to deliver a promise. A promise that every little thing we bring to life will make a difference and stay true to the single-word value of our brand.
Would you build a new car at Volvo without having “Safety” on your mind?