James King - Marketing Director

Optimal Audio – Brand Development

Marketing Director James King gives some insight into the processes behind the establishment of this new commercial audio brand…

Following the launch of Optimal Audio, it’s been gratifying to see the overwhelmingly positive response that has greeted our approach to commercial audio. This is the first time I’ve worked on a brand from its inception, and the development process was challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. Most importantly, it was fundamental to successfully fulfilling our specific ambitions.

The process began back in 2018, when it was clear to us that there was a good opportunity to develop a dedicated commercial audio brand. It was also apparent that simplicity should be the overriding driver of the brand – simple product selection, simple to install and simple for the end-user to operate. This idea, however, was not a case of dumbing things down – it was more about a careful selection of products for development, where unnecessary complexity was stripped away, and an architecture was created in which the products worked seamlessly together. In conjunction with Dom Harter, managing director, I wrote a simple brand story outlining these core beliefs, identifying the target market and how those within the end-to-end sales chain would benefit. This thinking then gave us the guardrails for the development and design of the products which Matt Rowe, engineering manager, took on with gusto, as well as providing the basis for the marketing approach.

We felt that it was also prudent to develop the brand logo at this early stage. Always keeping the watchword of simplicity at the front of our thoughts, the task proved surprisingly easy, and the Optimal Audio logo was developed from adopting an appropriately unfussy approach. What wasn’t foreseen at the time was just how the logo would naturally inform the brand architecture at a much later stage – suggesting that the clear approach to its origination was intuitively on the money.

Fast forward to 2020. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, we continued to work on product development and began to flesh out more of the brand architecture. The latter proved quite challenging as we tried to establish the right style and approach. Many concepts were originated but most were shelved. Colours came and went, photography went round in circles, and copy development was a process of continual refinement (and the odd argument). Then eventually our chief art designer broke the deadlock, proposing an approach which we could immediately see had strong potential. Taking inspiration from the logo, he showcased how everything we needed to reference could be represented in a double icon graphic approach – product categories, applications and key messages. Suddenly everything just clicked; it all reflected the simplicity of the brand’s approach, and was differentiated from other competitors in the sector. We had our basis to move forward.

Fast forward again to the start of 2021. Given that all the products were coming nicely to fruition, we decided on an April launch date. There was, however, still much to do. We needed to further refine all the brand communications, write all the product copy, develop the website, produce a company brochure, photograph the products, devise the launch event… the list appeared endless and daunting! In what proved to be a masterstroke, we appointed Gavin Eldridge to the team, with whom Dom and I had worked with in support of #WeMakeEvents. He really helped to project-manage the whole thing, getting deeply stuck in to every aspect, helping both to keep me sane and everything else on track. As it transpired, the ‘final sprint’ was full-on sixteen week race until we arrived at the launch event itself. Everything was in place, ready to unveil…

And breathe…

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