Today we live in a noisy world, and it’s getting harder for products to stand out in the market. We are surrounded by tons of various info everywhere we go and often it’s even hard to hear our own thoughts. And it’s the same when it comes to consumer products, there are tons of products in every category, where one is better than another. So how for a new product to compete in such ‘dog eat dog’ world? The honest answer would be – it’s the combination of everything, but at the same time it is important to start right from the beginning – creating a sustainable brand.
If you take a closer look at the world’s most successful brands, you will definitely find some common principles they use when building the brand and in many cases, it’s nothing about the quality, price or ingredients. You can put two similar products, where one even can be with a lower price, still, many consumers would choose the one with the well-known brand. So how come great brands can even have a bigger profit margin and still win? It’s because of the brand and it’s relation to a consumer. Of course, many of the big brands have huge marketing budgets and can run global advertising campaigns, and it definitely helps them a lot. However, as the former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz once said:
Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
Building the brand is not that difficult, but to build the brand that can succeed with its customers in a long-term perspective – that’s a challenge. And it is not only the name or the logo! I always see a brand as a puzzle, with many different parts, such as brand name, positioning, target audience, brand story, brand persona, visual identity, etc. And only if all parts fit together, the consumer can see the whole picture, this way your product can succeed.
Start by identifying some key reasons why have you started this venture? Why does your brand exist? What purpose does your brand have? The simplest way is to write down the mission statement, which will be the core part of your brand and its elements.
You have to be honest and believe in what you are doing, and the same goes for every employee in your company. You all have to know, understand and believe in the brand values, because if you don’t, how the consumers will? Every major brand starts brand building process inside-out.
I have already written about the consumer and how it is important to identify your target audience in my last blog post: Beverage Marketing: Defining Your Target Customer. Now just want to highlight that the better you understand your target audience and its needs, the more effective you can be when building your brand and marketing strategy. Be specific, find their aspirations, needs, dreams, this way you will be able to create the brand that consumers can relate to.
When it comes to new products and fresh entrepreneurs, very often I hear arguments, that this new product is one of its kind or nobody does that. Well, the reality is if you think so, you probably are extremely wrong. In FMCG market there are always many competitors, direct and indirect, and you have to be clever and creative to build that advantage compared to them.
Somehow the majority of new founders, when it comes to competitive advantage, look for it in the product – how to make it better, different from others. Well, that is the one way to do it, but majority forget that they have to think about other elements too, such as packaging design, brand, positioning, brand promise, etc. Remember, the brand is in the consumer’s mind, so you have to build that image in his head. It is not just your product, it is how you position that product compared to others. You can see in the market many similar products, with similar ingredients, functional benefits, but some are more expensive than others and perceived better by the consumer. Think why it is so. I suggest to comparing different bottled water brands. The product is obviously similar, but somehow one is more popular than other.
I always see the brand as a person. What does he like? What is his story? What are his values? You have to answer those questions in order to succeed with your customers. Yes, products fill our needs, but brands make us want those products. After you set the brand values, identified its strengths and your target audience, you can start building your brand by creating the brand persona and compelling brand story. Brand storytelling is such a wide topic, that I think I will dedicate the whole post about it in near future.
The brand story is not your story! It’s the essence of the brand which connects all parts together, brand values, purpose, promise to consumers. Brands need a story that consumers can connect with.
Recipe or other attributes, such as “Natural ingredients” or “No sugar added” can be easily copied, the brand story what makes your product unique and interesting.
The same goes for the brand persona. It’s the set of treats and values that your brand has, and it is shown through communication with consumers, branding, etc. Make your brand interesting, people are interested in people and stories, not products, no one cares about your product like you do.
You have to be smart how you communicate with your consumers. We live in this digital day and age, and globalization is bigger than ever. Everything is within few buttons reach. This way consumer expectations became bigger. Every major brand out there is trying to be personal. Remember it is not about you or your product, it is about that person who is out here. For example, Nike is not about that product, although it is great, or just superstar athletes, it is about that everyday person, who are they trying to inspire – ‘Just do it’. They are not selling just sportswear, they are selling the feeling of winning.
Know your audience, their aspirations, needs, and build your brand around it.
If you want your brand to grow and last longer, you have to be consistent about it. From the very first day know what is your brand and what it represents, and don’t lose it in the process. The minute you will start letting small things go about your brand, it will die. And if you think that consumers won’t notice small things, you are deadly wrong, they definitely will and turn back on you. Every small detail matters, the visual identity, persona, communication tone, content, values, you cannot lose that in the process. Your product is your brand that is the only thing that makes you different from others!
The Brand is the promise for your customers. It helps them to trust you and your product. And trust is not something you can build overnight. It has to be done step by step. This is why you have to be honest and transparent about everything you do with your business. If you lose the trust, you will lose your business. If you will manage to build that trust through your brand, you will build customer loyalty, which can make your brand successful in the long term.
Original article was published in Beverage Industry Blog.