BRAND IDENTITY The Soundings Group enjoys unique brand development experience. This experience reflects brand identity assignments from a cross section of small and large firms. A brand is a promise. Brands help create awareness, recognition, and imagery. It also supports a product or service “positioning.” A brand is more than a logo, and has multi-dimensional components, including font type, style, graphic elements such as borders, symbols and accents for emphasis. A brand is also helped by a generic descriptor, which is part of the brand and not a slogan. The Soundings Group executives have presented at industry seminars on brand equity or assessing the strength of a brand. The company has also been involved in developing international brand identities taking in considerations local country customs. The company has wide experience in brand name generation. The Soundings Group has developed brand portfolios, which typically includes developing an “umbrella brand name” and a linked family of sub-brands. As Tom Peters says in his book Re-Imagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all our decisions…” Note: brands/logos shown above are not current or past clients of The Soundings Group – logos shown are property of their respected companies. IDEA GENERATION Strategy development necessitates a disciplined and focused effort to maximize success. One technique shown to be helpful in developing new strategies or revitalizing an existing one involves a strategy session. This is sometimes referred to as an “ideation” or creative brainstorming session. The Strategy and Ideation Sessions offered by The Soundings Group reflect a customized approach that can be applied to a number of business and marketing issues, such as: New products or service idea generation Growth strategy alternatives New business identification Communication optimization Branding or corporate identity International targeting or prioritization Strategic alliances or acquisition identification Tactical marketing planning Competitive assessment These sessions necessitate careful planning. They are extremely productive and insightful, generating new ideas, new approaches, synergies and learning to facilitate future actions. The output generated can provide the foundation for new thinking, a new business, product or service, a new distribution channel or potential alliance partner. Other unexpected benefits often arise from these sessions, including: Team building Identifying and breaking down barriers Generating a positive orientation towards achieving a realistic company, division or SBU goal The Soundings Group implements creative brainstorming or strategy sessions in a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere. Our experienced facilitators ensure the proper understanding of the key issues, assignment objectives and relevant background information. Typically, the facilitator will meet with key team members prior to the session being held. MARKET ASSESSMENT This area includes implementing market assessments for a company entering a new market, or expanding markets for an existing product or service. Expanding business opportunities may include targeting an existing business to a new demographic, geographic or attitudinal consumer or business-to-business market segment. The Soundings Group LLC has experience assessing new markets in terms of: Market potential (sales volume estimates) Competition Distribution and value chain dynamics Cultural factors impacting various marketing elements: advertising, sales, package design and brand identity. Market entry strategies (and identifying barriers to entry) Regulatory issues Test market feasibility and planning Identification of potential joint venture or alliance partners. Market research (qualitative and quantitative). International market assessments MARKETING GUIDANCE Today’s more competitive and cluttered media environment necessitates new thinking of how to reach a target audience effectively. The interactive abilities of the Internet, handheld devices and more sophisticated electronic media provides a plethora of communication choices. How does a company effectively communicate its new products and services to a new or expanding market? The Soundings Group can help offer guidance to small, medium and start-up companies serving the consumer, B2B or B2C markets, domestically or internationally. These areas include: 1. Optimizing a value proposition Developing a relevant and convincing selling proposition is key in today’s competitive market place. A sound strategy, competitive assessment, understanding the consumer decision making influencers and emotional appeal all contribute to creating a compelling sales story or message bundle. 2. Branding A brand is more than a logo. It is a promise to a potential customer, client or user. A brand strategy may encompass a portfolio of brands necessitating a consistent look, projected image and connection. The Soundings Group has exceptional expertise in developing brand names, brand portfolios, brand identities and features to help strengthen brand equity. 3. Advertising and Media Advertising creative, media selection and placement, within a given budget, have always been challenging. The increased use of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn), GroupOn and other digital media, including videos and blogs provide new opportunities and challenges. There may still be a role for traditional broadcast and print advertising, but their roles are changing. 4. Promotion Promotion spending for many companies has increased, and often generates more spending than advertising. Promotions vary widely, from give-ways pens, banners and squeeze toys with a company’s logo, to sophisticated trade show displays, multi-media programs, issuing electronic coupons via a personal computer, mailing CDs, using webinars, frequent purchase programs and cross branding. 5. Public Relations Historically a corporate function, PR has taken a more active and integrated role in marketing programs. PR related recommendations can include press conferences, live events, sponsorships, generating news stories and articles for the press, issuing white papers and providing funds or space for public meetings. Its role is becoming more important for new product or service launches, whether for generating free articles or technical reviews in the press. 6. Sales Support Sales people and departments often need support to help maximize their sales efforts. This may include developing sales materials, brochures, fact sheets, documented success stories or data from secondary or primary research to support a product feature, claim or benefit. 7. Market Research Key Soundings Group personnel are experts in market research. The company has utilized a wide array of qualitative and quantitative market research techniques to help provide valuable insights to help grow a client’s business. Some of these approaches include conducting focus groups, in-depth and executive interviews, implementing idea generation sessions, advisory boards (especially medical), and surveys of all types. The key to any market research is to bring forward valuable insights and not just report the data. The Soundings Group excels at generating valuable insights from market research studies. These insights help companies to make decisions and to further support growth strategy opportunities. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & COMMERCIALIZATION The Soundings Group has extensive experience in the development and commercialization of new products for the healthcare industry. Whether the product represents capital equipment, disposable or a single patient use device, software or service, the product development process has similar steps. In developing new products, understanding the end user’s requirements are essential for a successful long-term offering. The Group has considerable experience, using various tools, in determining an accurate and functional requirements specification. We offer the client an efficient, cost effective option for moving a product through the process. The value of intellectual property (patents, trademarks, etc.), which is often overlooked, is an element of the product development process. The Group is experienced in coordinating and working with IP professionals . We can assist a client in gaining maximum protection of proprietary property. Understanding the product development process and proper implementation is essential for an expeditious time to market. The following schematic shows a typical process flow necessary to bring a product from idea to product launch. STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT Developing a strategy sounds easy. Yet various people and many companies use the descriptor for operational imperatives, continuous improvement or short term, tactical efforts. A strategy represents a cornerstone of a well thought out plan to accomplish a goal. A strategy is the guiding light for marketers and their cross functional teams to consistently follow. An ideal strategy will be easy to communicate, be clear in describing a product or service and show a competitive advantage, leveraging a company’s core competencies and assets. The development of an effective strategy takes a thorough understanding of the company’s business, products offered, customers served and competitive environment. In defining the business one must consider the territory or region business will be pursued. Geographic locale is important as a company must understand the culture, barriers to entry, and customer requirements. How a company will compete requires a comprehensive understanding of the market and what will be their basis of competition (e.g. price, quality products, service etc.). The knowledge gained through understanding the business and what makes this company unique from the competition enables it to develop action plans. The end product is a plan that clearly establishes the course the client company will navigate. The Soundings Group has the knowledge and talents to develop direction for its clients. TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT & TRANSFER The group offers its clients a unique opportunity to examine technologies that have growth potential without substantial commitment of resources. The group uses is a multi-step approach that may involve any of the following: Strategy development and target market identification Technology screening for appropriateness and fit Technology feasibility Product evaluation Patent assessment Regulatory compliance Licensing issues Commercialization Marketing agreements Additionally, The Soundings Group has proven experience in assessing market potential, economic justification, competitive advantage and risk analysis. The overall assessment and analysis is undertaken, offering clients an objective, non-biased view in an efficient time frame. Moving technology from one source to another can be a challenge for any sized organization. Through its extensive network, The Soundings Group offers the ability to represent clients to other potential strategic alliance partners or licensees, creating a win-win for all. We have the ability to evaluate and match companies based on their offerings, strengths, and management philosophies in order to recommend the most compatible partners. In terms of product commercialization, we offer the ability to develop comprehensive product and or service launch plans, recommend distribution channels and assess the impact on organizational structure of new technology integration. Licensing offers a client an opportunity to share in the expanding technology market without incurring the risk (and expense) of long-term research and development programs. The Soundings Group offers knowledge and experience in identifying licensing partners, and in structuring and negotiating licensing agreements. No matter what your needs are for selecting, evaluating and structuring technology offerings, the Soundings Group offers innovative, sensible solutions.