How two brothers launched first 2-in-1 robot vacuum in months

Entrepreneurs George and Ted Ko worked with MDC Partners' Yes and Company to power through an incredibly quick brand launch, introducing the first major disruption to the category in 10 years.

Admit it: You’ve never been more excited about vacuuming.

No judgement here -- cleaning your house has never looked so sexy.

Coral One is the first two-in-one robotic vacuum. And the first major disruption to the category in more than a decade in a market long dominated by iRobot and Dyson.

"From the get-go, we don’t market ourselves as just a tech company: We’re a human-centric design robotics company," said George Ko, who founded the Coral with his brother Ted. "We put people’s needs before anything else, even before the technology."

The robot, which will set you back around $500, is finished with the same grade gloss as Apple’s products and is hand-polished before leaving the factory.

Harvard graduates Ted and George first approached MDC Partners agency Bruce Mau Design with the idea for the beautifully-designed vacuum to fulfill an unmet market need earlier this year. Immediately, Bruce Mau Design engaged Yes and Company to enlist a full range of specialist partners to help launch the company and product.

In just seven months, the company brought together specialists in branding (Bruce Mau Design), digital, creative, social and e-commerce (Hello Design) and digital media (Varick), enlisted PR and event support from MDC Partners sister agency HL Group, and formed an innovative retail/demonstration partnership with the New Stand in NYC -- all under the umbrella of Yes and Company.

The result is a new 360-degree marketing effort that introduces Coral’s direct-to-consumer business.

Michael Bassik, CEO of Yes and Company, which was launched in May this year, told Campaign US: "Modern marketers expect the best from their agencies -- they want inspired thinking. They want seamless integration across disciplines. They want speed. And we’re demonstrating that’s possible.

"Our agencies worked together as a single team to support every aspect of the Coral brand launch."

Bassik said that in order to stand out from the competition, design sophistication was key. They played on research which found that most people who own a robotic vacuum still own a separate upright or canister vacuum for the best cleaning results.

"Agencies are often limited to their specialties, but we can help clients identify what they need and seamlessly deliver against it by partnering them with the best collaborative specialists in every discipline," Bassik added.

"We worked in close partnership with Ted and George to turn their ask for a brand identity into a brand ecosystem that can lift their brand off and carry them into the future.  By connecting the dots between specialist agencies, we brought their product to market in just seven months and are working to make it a best-seller this holiday season."


Q&A with George Ko, chief creative officer at Coral Robots

How is Coral One's marketing strategy different?
We wanted our brand to be the symbol for the present and future of home robotics and to be a part of how you live your life. Thus, we incorporated this symbiotic nature of people and robots into our DNA, starting with our name: Coral.

Coral is one of the most natural symbiotic creatures in nature. All of our visuals, copywriting and communications stem from this symbiotic relationship with people. We also steered away from stock images and cold colors that are normally associated with tech. Realistic scenarios, warm photography, and a nature-inspired color palette were all key parts of our visual design.


How has the Yes and Company agency model helped take this product to market in a way other agency models could not?
Despite having an extensive design and brand background, my brother and I knew that to build a strong brand in the beginning we needed to work with the best. Yes and Company was a pretty turnkey solution that provided a tight-knit group of unique agencies that had all of these offerings and were pros in their respective fields. BMD helped build the brand. Hello Design built the digital experience. HL Group developed the PR strategy and outreach. And Varick organized our paid media strategy.

Since these agencies were under one Yes and Company, we were able to communicate on an incredibly intimate level from day one. We formulated a strategy and workflow that was consistent across all companies, and pretty soon our six companies felt like one. That’s how we were able to launch a new company in just seven months. Together, we created Coral.


How is Coral One breaking through the noise to become a dominant product in this space?
Almost every owner of a robot vacuum also needs a handheld since the robot can’t clean couches or tough-to-reach areas. The Coral One’s unique two-in-one design lets you do all of that in one machine. You can just take out the handheld module directly from the vacuum robot and it instantly becomes a powerful cyclonic dustbuster.

The robot helps keep your home clean everyday, and the handheld gets those couch crumbs and curtain dust-bunnies. It’s designed for the way you actually clean.

There are also lots of other unique features that separate the Coral One from other robots. The dustbin for the robot is easy to remove and has a trap door designed to dump out trash quickly.

The ergonomic handle is sturdy enough so you can lift the robot from the floor without squatting. The gloss coating of the robot is the same grade as Apple’s products. The robot was hand polished before it left the factory. The packaging design is akin to luxury goods and limited edition sneakers.

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