3 Steps to Get People Talking about Your Brand

This blog is the second in a series by Danette Amstein excerpted from a Brand Building presentation she delivered at NAMI’s Meat Industry Management Conference in April, 2016.

Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, it’s hard to miss the ubiquitous Starbucks on nearly every corner, or at least every few blocks.  Even small communities have a local Starbucks; they’re everywhere, right? Heck, now you can get your favorite Mocha Frappuccino at Target or the grocery store.  And the thing about Starbucks is, you always know what you’re getting.  Walk into any Starbucks from Seattle to Schenectady, and you can count on a consistent product.

Red umbrellaOnce upon a time, making a consistent, quality product was enough to be successful.  But in the 1950’s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble and General Foods realized that they needed to differentiate their products from “the other guy’s.”   Branding, or giving a product an identity that distinguishes it from nearly-indistinguishable competitors, was born.

Effective branding requires a keen understanding of the target consumer and a “brand proposition” that offers not only functional but also emotional value.  This is where Starbucks excels.  Their branding goes way beyond that coffee in the paper cup; many of their loyal followers have an almost cult-like attachment to the brand.  (Want proof?  They have over 35 million Facebook followers.)

So what does the average meat brand need to do to get that kind of love?

It all starts with a story.  Branding is storytelling at its best, with imagery and messaging that consumers can grab ahold of and buy into.  Of course, tangibles like name and logo are an important part of branding, but intangibles like a brand’s specific promise, personality and positioning do the heavy lifting – they all shape how you tell your brand story.  A good brand creates perceived value for consumers not only in the way that it stands out from others, but in the way that it stands for something in the mind of its target audience.  Just think about what these successful brands stand for:

  • Apple (Creativity)
  • BMW (Ultimate Performance)
  • Guinness (Crafted Irish Beer)

These are the kinds of key words, the words that differentiate a brand, that we want to own unaided.  Successful brands are very purposeful about what they want their target to think and feel without prompting.  Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, boils it all down to one powerful statement:   “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

So if you are about to embark on a branding journey, here are a few pointers that can help give your brand story a happy ending:

  1. Write your brand story before you tell your brand story: Good branding strategies are clearly mapped out and documented.  Laying the brand groundwork takes lots of time and energy, but it’s the foundation for all brand decisions moving forward.
  2. Don’t start in the C-Suite: Lots of branding ideas sound great in the boardroom, but they need to be tested with a real-live target audience.  If your messaging doesn’t resonate with your target during testing, you’re sunk before you even launch.
  3. Do start with the end in mind: Think about what sets your brand apart.  What key words do you want your brand to own?

You want people talking about your brand when you’re not in the room, and incorporating these steps can help you shape what they’re saying.

Know other brands that are getting it right?  Please leave a comment or email me at d.amstein@midanmarketing.com – I always love your feedback!

Check out my previous blog, Brand Building: Finding the Sweet Spot.

Brand Building: Finding the Sweet Spot

IMG_9030 - DA at NAMI

Danette takes a selfie with attendees of her Brand Building presentation at NAMI’s Meat Industry Management Conference, April 5, 2016

Anyone who sells anything for a living has heard the old adage, “The customer is always right.”  This little nugget is more relevant than ever in today’s customer-centric economy.  Now that consumers have only to click a button to get products from kayaks to kazoos delivered to their door within hours, businesses that don’t focus on the buyer’s needs can’t survive or thrive.

Keeping your attention on the target consumer is critical, but it’s only part of the equation when it comes to another key factor in business success:  branding.   We all consume hundreds of brands every day:  Did you grab a coffee at Starbucks this morning?  Are you reading this blog on an Apple iSomething?  Will you drive home in a VW or a BMW?  In today’s uber-branded world, the challenge to brand effectively is daunting.  How do you tell your product’s story so that it stands out from others?

Even the meat industry is moving from commodity products to branded products.  And it brings very special challenges, because we aren’t selling coffee or computers.  We are dealing with a highly perishable, temperature-sensitive product for which we don’t control supply, input costs and, more often than not, the way it’s sold.

By its very nature, our product dictates that the meat industry has to tackle branding differently.

While widget companies might be able to adapt nimbly to new branding specs, meat packers and processors have production capabilities already in place, with heavy investments in capital, facilities, equipment and people.  The opportunity to upend your plant to produce a new branded meat product is slim (but if you are thinking about it…let’s talk!).

But those darn consumers…their needs are constantly changing, so you have to consider what they want and assess what you can produce profitably.  Where the overlap lies is your area of opportunity – your “sweet spot.”  It doesn’t matter if you develop an awesome brand that syncs with every desire of your target consumer if you can’t produce it in the black.

While overlaying consumer needs with a company’s core competencies might sound fairly simple, in reality it’s pretty messy.  You also have to determine your overall business strategy, evaluate the competition, develop brand positioning and create the visual language for the brand.  It’s not a linear process; you are constantly re-evaluating, revisiting and tweaking.

But the time and energy spent assessing where your customer needs intersect with what you can consistently produce will help you identify your “sweet spot.” When you do, set your sights on it with a laser focus, because it’s the foundation of a profitable brand.

Check out a new brand we recently helped a client build and launch.

If you would like to talk about building your meat brand and finding your “sweet spot,” give me a call at 704.664.MEAT or email me at d.amstein @midanmarketing.com.

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