Hard launch vs. soft launch: what’s the difference?

So you’ve been working on your business plan, you’ve developed a strong brand and your website is almost ready. The next thing to consider is how you’re going to bring your business to market. Here, we explain the concept of a hard launch vs. a soft launch.

We’ve been quizzed about this a lot recently by clients who are starting a new business, rebranding or merging with another brand. They want to know the best way to introduce their new venture to market when developing a launch strategy.

Both approaches have their advantages, depending on what your business offers the market, who your clients are and what you’re trying to achieve. To help you plan your launch activity, we’ve developed a list of key considerations for hard launch vs. soft launch.

The art of the soft launch
This is a gradual roll-out that introduces your brand to market quietly. Discretion and subtlety are key. Typically, a soft launch involves rolling out your supporting marketing applications piece by piece – without a great deal of fanfare. For example, your new website will quietly go live when it’s ready, not on a specific launch date.

Soft launch vs. hard launch requires no official PR strategy, largely because you don’t want to generate publicity or draw mass attention to your new proposition. Typically, this is because you want to ‘test’ your offering on a limited audience, demographic or geography to assess whether it needs refinement before launching it more widely.

Other scenarios best suited to a soft launch are those ‘delicate’ business situations where you already have a strong base of clients and customers (perhaps inherited through a parent brand), and there’s a risk that creating hype about a new brand may cause confusion or even alienate some people.

Table about the pros and cons of a soft launch on blog article by Sketch Corp.


The impact of a hard launch
A hard launch, on the other hand, is where you launch with a bang. You schedule an official launch date well in advance where all marketing material, external communications and sales collateral must be ready to ‘go live’.

Activity for a hard launch usually involves drumming up pre-launch interest through PR activity and culminates in a gala launch event.

In terms of hard launch vs soft launch, the goal with this approach is to attract attention and garner widespread brand awareness. You want as many people as possible to know about your new brand and its benefits.

Table about the pros and cons of a hard launch on blog article by Sketch Corp.


Hard launch vs. soft launch: key considerations
Put some thought into your overall launch objective. Do you want to generate enquiry, acquire new clients, revamp subtly, communicate brand changes to existing clients while reassuring them their service won’t change, or give the market a clear understanding of who you are and what you do?

The second thing to consider is allocating your launch budget. Take the time to clearly identify what you’re willing to invest in getting the new brand up and running. Is this budget best spent on launch activity in terms of ROI or are there more effective ways of achieving your objective? Investigate the cost of launch activity vs the cost of targeted advertising and the likely performance of each.

Another point to consider is your internal resources and skill sets. If you decide to host a launch party, who will manage this internally? Are they equipped to do this to the standard it needs to be, or do you need to outsource some aspects of your launch to PR, events or marketing professionals?

Communicating your ‘new brand’ to existing clients is a weighty consideration that requires some finesse. Is there any risk some your current clients won’t ‘buy in’ to the new brand? Decide on the best way to mitigate this risk, which may be through reassurance issued via strategic communications.

Look at how many existing clients you have in your database and the kind of relationship you have with them to gauge what’s appropriate. Decide whether the most effective way of communicating changes is via EDM or perhaps a personal invitation to a launch event.

Then there’s the matter of what will happen after the launch. A post-launch lead generation marketing strategy may be in order to capitalise on your hard work, in which case you’ll need to assess whether your follow-up marketing strategy complements your launch activity in terms of messaging and fulfilling your brand promise.

It can help to seek an objective opinion when introducing a new business to market. As always, if you have any questions, concerns or collateral requirements for an upcoming launch, Sketch Corp. can assist. Call our team on (07) 3369 6100.

So long, 2019! Time for a few highlights

With only a week left until Christmas (!!), we’ve been looking back on 2019. Our team has delivered some incredible projects this year and we’ve had the privilege of working with amazing clients from a diverse cross-section of industries. Of course, we can’t showcase every job, but here’s a snapshot of some of the work we’re most proud of.
Client: VizaGo

Established by one of Queensland’s leading immigration agencies, the VizaGo platform proactively assists people applying for a visa by walking them through the application process and shedding light on what authorities are looking for. VizaGo brings warmth and clarity to what can be a cold, confusing process by helping visa applicants navigate issues or ambiguity.

Sketch Corp. was honoured to develop a brand for VizaGo, including the company name, brand archetype, brand language, company profile, service offering summary, brand mark, supporting visual elements, icons, colour palette and typography. We are currently working on website design, which is due to go live next year.

Branding strategy and brand visual identity project for VizaGo by Sketch Corp.

Client: The Landscape Construction Company (TLCC)

TLCC delivers high-quality hard and soft landscaping for municipal councils, Government bodies and select commercial clients across Queensland and northern New South Wales. The company creates and rejuvenates community parks, botanic gardens, recreational areas, town squares, memorials, streetscapes, podium landscapes and assorted infrastructure projects.

Now that we’ve delivered a new website (design, copy and development) and a capability statement (copy and design) for TLCC, our team is thrilled to be working with the company in an ongoing monthly marketing capacity.  

Web design design project for TLCC by Sketch Corp.

Capability statement design project for TLCC by Sketch Corp.

Client: Agri Talent

Agri Talent provides permanent recruitment and executive search services exclusively for Australia’s agriculture industry. Their experienced team is committed to understanding the recruitment needs, strategic direction and key drivers of clients’ businesses. 

Sketch Corp. created a new brand for Agri Talent, including brand archetype, brand language, company profile, brand mark, supporting visual elements, colour palette and typography. A new website design is currently underway before launch in Q1 next year.

Branding strategy and brand visual identity project for AgriTalent by Sketch Corp.

Client: Bushman Tanks

Founded in 1989, Bushman Tanks is the leading manufacturer of water tanks, rainwater tanks and industrial tanks in Australia.

Sketch Corp. delivered a fresh new website design for the business in early 2019.

Website Design for Bushman Tanks Water Tanks by Sketch Corp.

Client: Yallamundi Farm

Tucked away on the Darling Downs in Queensland, Yallamundi Farm is pioneering agricultural practices that set a new standard for sustainable egg farming. The team behind Yallamundi are proving that eggs can be produced in a better, fairer way that cares for birds, protects the environment and remains affordable for the consumer.

Over the past few months, Sketch Corp. has been working on telling the story of this amazing farm. Our copywriters and designers have delivered a suite of informative collateral and infographic designs.

Brand strategy and packaging design project for Yallamundi Farms by Sketch Corp.

Client: The Bookkeeping Collective

The Bookkeeping Collective provides contemporary bookkeeping services for small-to-medium businesses across Australia. The team takes care of the foundational bookkeeping tasks that busy business owners don’t have time for to help them stay compliant and increase profitability.  

Our team created a suite of professional branding elements for The Bookkeeping Collective, as well as design and copy for its website (currently in development and due to launch in Q1 2020).

Branding strategy and brand visual identity project for The Bookkeeping Collective by Sketch Corp.

Client: Richard Jay

Our close working relationship with Australia’s most trusted name in commercial laundry and warewashing continued this year with various marketing initiatives and the launch of a brand new flagship website.

As well as providing marketing assistance on a monthly basis throughout 2019, Sketch Corp. delivered design, copy and development for the new website.

Web design project for Richard Jay by Sketch Corp.

Client: Joanna Boyd Buyers Advocate

Buyers Advocate Joanna Boyd has more than 20 years’ experience in the property industry. Joanna was driven to start her new business – focusing on buyers’ advocacy exclusively ­– after suddenly losing her husband, Tony, in 2017.

Branding strategy and brand visual identity project for Joanna Boyd Buyers Advocate by Sketch Corp.

We’re calling it: our predictions for marketing trends in 2020

We’re at the pointy end of the year – the time when we should in theory be slowing down but instead seem to be hurtling towards some kind of invisible finish line. With 2020 just around the corner, we’re throwing down the gauntlet and making our call on what you’ll be seeing in terms of marketing trends in 2020 – and how incorporating them into your business could help you have a very happy new year.

1. Privacy.
This one’s a biggie. With all sorts of privacy scandals rocking the online world in recent years, consumers are becoming savvy to the fact their data isn’t as safe with online brands as they may have thought. Globally, new legislation intended at tightening internet security (as well as increased restrictions built into browsers including Chrome and Safari) means the days of relying on the humble cookie (particularly third-party cookies) and digital fingerprinting may be numbered. This means businesses should be considering alternative methods to monitor customer behaviour if they’re not already.


2. Insight-based marketing.
The next step on from data-driven marketing, insight-based marketing isn’t just the ‘what, when and how’ of user behaviour – it’s also the ‘why’. Tapping into the reasons behind user behaviour is a great way to provide your customer with a meaningful user experience that will encourage loyalty. As consumers come to expect increasingly personalised experiences from brands, we predict insight-based marketing will become one of the biggest marketing trends in 2020.


3. Humanising the robot.
No longer the stuff of futuristic films starring Will Smith, artificial intelligence (AI) is now a part of our everyday lives – often in the form of a chatbot that helpfully pops up in the corner of a website. With an increased push for AI to become more human and less, well, robotic, the use of ‘humanised’ bots is on the rise. While this technology – when done well – can boost ROI by freeing up skilled staff members to undertake higher-value tasks, it remains an expensive outlay, and can be disastrous if not done well (though hopefully not as disastrous as Microsoft’s first foray into the world of chatbots, which quickly turned into a racist, genocidal and misogynistic maniac). Will humanised AI be one of the biggest marketing trends in 2020? Watch this space… 


4. Social media stories.
We’ve all seen them, and whether or not we watch them all ourselves, there’s no denying the stories function of Instagram and Facebook will continue to be a hugely powerful and effecting marketing tool. In fact, according to Instagram, one-third of the platform’s most viewed stories are produced by businesses. As one of our predicted marketing trends in 2020, these highly personal, quickly consumable videos are a totally free-to-upload engagement tool that can target your market, link to your site and give you complete creative control over your messaging. With their 24-hour turnover, stories are a fresh, real-time way to engage with your audience. 


5. Video.
Even though the ‘you need video’ message is nothing new, we think video is set to continue as one of the biggest marketing trends in 2020. With our streaming, short-attention-span culture, video is now the way most people prefer to take in information, and platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook are clearly favouring video content. Now that video production is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, it’s a very achievable way to give your business a head start in 2020.

6. Environment and sustainability.
With 74% of global consumers now expecting brands to take a stand on ethical issues, successful companies need to be aware of customer perception around their own environmental and sustainable policies. From fashion labels embracing Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes campaign to the world’s biggest hotel chain announcing their plan to do away with miniature plastic toiletries, environmental and sustainable transparency is a crucial way to engage with a customer increasingly concerned with these issues. Whether you’re a business with an end-product or a company that can highlight the ethical decisions behind the day-to-day running and internal processes of your business, there’s never been a better time to wear your sustainable heart on your sleeve.


– Sketch Corp.