James King - Marketing Director

Optimal Audio – One Year on The Brand Journey

In this Q and A, Optimal Audio team members reflect on what was a challenging, hectic and ultimately very satisfying twelve months since the brand was launched…

James King – Marketing Director

It’s clear that launching a new brand from scratch would present many challenges. Could you identify what you see as having been the greatest challenges in your area, and perhaps talk a little about if/how the pandemic further impacted those… With the benefit of hindsight would you have done anything differently or are you satisfied that you took all the right steps?

From a marketing standpoint the biggest challenge was all around the preparation for launch. While we had spent a year tinkering with the brand ethos, positioning and core visual assets to provide a solid basis for the brand, in essence for all supporting materials to launch both the brand and twenty products together, we only had a little over three months to complete it, and a very finite budget. 

So, that was all the product copy and photography, website development and company brochure, data sheets and product videos, the launch event… the list appeared endless and daunting. I would not have been able to do it without the team pulling together, and in particularly drafting in Gavin Eldridge to help project manage it all. We got it done and the reaction to the launch was fantastic.

Subsequent to that, the challenges of getting products into production with all the shortages in supply chain, especially around electronics, has meant that getting the portfolio shipping, and delivering brand momentum was significantly more of a headache than we foresaw. So, its been about managing our distributors, providing as clear information as we can, engaging with them on training needs or providing them additional tools in preparation for products shipping, while keeping interest in the brand from the wider community. Thanks again to a lot of hard work from the team and the immeasurable patience of our sales partners, we are now at a stage now where the portfolio is shipping, people are seeing the potential of the brand, and sales are very quickly ramping.

Had we had known, would we have delayed the launch? Of course, we would. That said, I am not a believer in hindsight. For me you have to make the best judgements on the available information and move forward. If things don’t go according to plan, you adjust, but ultimately you keep moving forward. And that’s what we’ve done. 

You must have identified some targets and projected milestones that you wished to reach as the business developed. Have these been largely met/exceeded? Are you where you want/planned to be, one year on?

Challenges aside, I think we can be very pleased with where we sit a year on. We have distribution in over fifty territories, a portfolio of twenty-one products now shipping, sales are ramping quickly, brand excitement is tangible, feedback on performance of systems in the field is strong, and we have a very bright future ahead of us. Yes, of course we could have sold more, quicker, without some of the supply chain challenges we’ve encountered, but we feel very confident about the next twelve months.

Speaking to the individual team members at the beginning of this journey, it was clear that the chance to work on the creation of a brand new business from scratch was a very rare and exciting opportunity. Looking back at the last year, has the development of Optimal Audio fulfilled your personal expectations? 

Without a doubt, the launch of Optimal Audio is a personal highlight of my career. It is extremely rare to get the opportunity to define and build a brand from scratch, and that journey has been fascinating and rewarding. I am extremely proud of the work that was created, especially in light of the budget that we had to work with, and I am excited to nurture and bear witness to this brand fulfilling its potential. 

Can you tell us about the response you have received from the marketplace to the Optimal Audio offer? How well has the Optimal Audio message connected with potential customers in the comparatively short lifespan of the company? Could you talk a little about the success of the open days…

From the launch, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and rewarding. The launch itself was described by a financial analyst as Apple—esque, and as recently as the Open Days in March we got to be face to face with customers who remain extremely complimentary about the brand. Now that the portfolio is shipping and the true potential of the eco-system is coming to fruition, it’s exciting to see the sales ramp quickly alongside some notable installations into Starbucks and Versace retail stores. 

Where do you want/expect to be one year from now?

A year from now will be a very exciting place for Optimal Audio because we have laid the foundations for growth: an exciting, differentiated brand with twenty-one shipping products in over fifty countries around the world. We are going to see sales quickly ramp and brand momentum with it. We’ve signed off on a three-year product roadmap with some notable additions to occur in the next year, and we will further strengthen our distribution network too. We are investing in advertising and other brand and product marketing vehicles to support and propel the growth, so yes, a year from now I expect Optimal Audio to be in a very healthy place. 

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