The Customer Is Always Right. Really.

When you’re involved in a new product launch there are three things to remember: <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>1.</b> Involve your customers in your mission. They may surprise you by demonstrating new ways to use and promote your product.<br clear="none" /> <b>2. </b> Allow your customers to become ambassadors for your brand by speaking to the audiences they know best. <br clear="none" /> <b>3. </b> The sophistication of the marketing must match the sophistication of the product itself. The object becomes a physical manifestation of the product’s capabilities, and that becomes the hook.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Here’s a case study to illustrate. Canon USA, a leader in the imaging and printing business, invented a new technology and decided to give a beta version of its new ImagePRESS C1+ to one of its customers (us here at Carbone Smolan Agency) to take it for a spin. What would a creative agency do with an in-house printer that could print clear toner and accommodate a broad range of paper stocks? Offset quality results in-house? Impossible!<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Carbone Smolan Agency (CSA) is a New York-based design and branding company known for its identity systems of companies such as Morgan Stanley and Christie’s. To highlight the machine’s talents, CSA decided to invent a new brand and marketing campaign for an imaginary bakery and caf&#x00E9; named ZEST. A 36-page Brand Sprit Book for ZEST, full of everything lemon (identity, packaging, menus, point-of-purchase, direct mail), demonstrated effects never before possible; outstanding photographic reproduction, solid laydowns of flat color, subtle matte versus gloss finishes&#x2014;all reproduced on an expansive range of offset quality paper stocks including matte, gloss, metallic, translucent, 100 percent cotton, and cover weights up to 80 pound. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> It became clear this imaging breakthrough combined with market trends created a new opportunity for digital printing in the design community. The quality of the C1+, its small footprint, and excellent spot coating capabilities made design offices, college design departments, and in-house marketing groups important potential markets for Canon. As demonstrated by CSA’s explorations, creative users will find unexpected new ways to use the equipment and create even more new markets.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Canon partnered with Carbone Smolan Agency to build the brand strategically with designers. Armed with ZEST and a suite of marketing communications tools that explain the possibilities rather than product specs, the Canon sales reps were shown there is no better way to reach the design community than through design. A line in the sales materials reads: "Adding zest to your creativity." A high-quality video produced by Canon (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) showcases CSA’s reputation for high print-production standards, and provides an endorsement of the new product. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> At a time of a phenomenal change in print-production markets due to the challenging economic environment, CSA positioned the Canon ImagePRESS C1+ as a way to produce high-quality results for a fraction of the cost. Value, innovation, and quality are a hard combination to beat. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Leslie Smolan is the co-founder and director of creative strategy for Carbone Smolan Agency. She mentors both clients and designers on the power of design to transform businesses and motivate customers. For more information, visit<a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</i>