Building A Brand Or Selling A Product?
We had a “discovery call” this week with a former client in the home accessories space about undertaking a new effort to jumpstart brand sales. Their new wellness-positioned product launched in early 2020 wasn’t performing as planned. While the client was still investigating the reasons for the dramatic shortfall, our role on this call was to interrogate. A few minutes into our conversation, our hypothesis was that they didn’t set out building a brand. They were selling a product.
Here are five brand building observations that all brand marketers can relate to:
Building A Brand Vs. Selling A Product
Shortly into our Q&A session, it become clear why this new product launch wasn’t the success the brand marketing team was hoping for. Our agency team asked about long-term brand ambition, the company’s vision beyond selling another (insert generic category product descriptor here) and the consumer insight as the impetus for creating a clear and compelling brand positioning statement.
Trajectory was talking about building a brand, but the client was talking about selling a product. In today’s oversaturated marketplace, if you’re not setting out with a brand building mindset from day one (seamlessly weaving together strategy, aesthetics and emotion), your chances of success are slim and none. Most people are pretty comfortable doing things the way they’ve always done, and unless there’s a compelling reason to change, they won’t. Key is to be able to balance short-term sales and longer-term brand building.
Brand Positioning, With Purpose
We know that a clear sense of the broader role a brand plays in people’s lives is increasingly important. This reflects the growing desire among consumers to learn more about the companies behind the brands they buy. In many cases COVID-19 has served to accelerate these consumer behaviors and values. Brand purpose should be authentic and integrated into the brand experience, rather than bolted on as an afterthought.
Defining Your Market
A key step in brand building is defining your market in benefit terms, not product terms. With this mindset, a brand can compete not just against other direct (expected) product alternatives, but against a broader competitive set based on the problem that a product is solving for people.
A failure to see the bigger market opportunity could have been a key reason for consumer lack of interest in this new product. While the client was thinking about the functional benefits they were providing – we were asking about the people they were hoping to reach, and how they intended to make their lives better by way of this product.
Elevate The Emotional
We asked the client about the functional and emotional benefits the new product provides (independently, vis-a-vis competition, and relative to price) – and plotted this on what we call a value pyramid. Identifying all the things this product will do to improve people’s lives, and then figuring out how people will feel as a result. Backdrop is that in general, the more elements of value provided, the larger the company’s opportunity for sustained sales growth and customer loyalty.
Every brand today offers table stake rational benefits of quicker, cheaper, smarter, more convenient. But the magic happens if every time you communicate with someone – you can make them feel something. Tapping into something they need and genuinely solving it for them. In sum, brands that people love the most all stand for a clear emotional idea that’s greater than the product’s benefits.
An Unfolding Marketing Campaign
We often refer back to Byron Sharpe’s research and his game-changing book How Brands Grow. The book is based on decades of research as a marketing scientist that has progressively uncovered scientific laws about buying and marketing performance, and is the first to present these laws in context, and explore their meaning and marketing applications.
A few of his key themes include focusing on penetration to grow your brand, delivered with constant advertising (not bursts), developing creative, distinct campaigns that cut through, with branding that is recognizable and reinforcing, so look and feel and tone of voice continually build on one another.
Brand Building Next Steps
We ended our client call with a request for more information (launch plan, activities and execution, consumer intelligence, channel and account-by-account performance, etc.) – so that Trajectory could assist with a deep dive into the reasons for underperformance. We’ll then share lessons learned and use this knowledge as a basis for a brand relaunch plan.
Since 1999, our brand agency has partnered with clients across the health and wellness continuum to build stronger brand-led businesses. Reach out for a no-obligation consultation.