Brands are like people - there are the ones you want to hang out, ones you’d rather avoid and those sad ones you care so little about that you forget them as soon as they leave your sight. And like with people, sometimes it’s hard to explain why you gravitate towards one over others despite their products being very similar. The magical power of branding is responsible for this.
The role of branding is simple - connect with the right consumer and make them choose your product or service over your competition.
In the past when supply was scarce we used to buy things we needed. We bought soap to clean ourselves and drink to satisfy our thirst. These days, living in the land of plenty we no longer simply purchase things. Instead we buy what the product has to offer and how it can improve our life. We buy stories, convenience, feelings or beliefs. And more often than not we do it without even realising it. Soaps are no longer there just to wash our bodies they are awakening our senses, transforming us to the Amazon, saving the planet or giving you the oh so needed love for your body. Car manufacturers don’t sell vehicles - they sell the thrill, adventure, family trips or taking care of your loved ones. Beer companies sell time with your friends and feeling of a job well done and tomato sauce takes you on a trip to Amalfi Coast where an Italian nanna is cooking up a storm with freshly picked crops.
ONE PRODUCT MILLION STORIES
Let’s take a tomato sauce. What you have in front of you is a tasty mix of cooked tomatoes with some herbs and spices and a few ingredients to make it last a while. All put in a glass jar with a plain lid on. A simple thing really - nothing groundbreaking or particularly different. You’d be forgiven for thinking that selling it would be pretty straightforward. At the end of the day how many ways can you spin a staple, right? But if that’s the way you’re thinking then I’m sorry to say but you couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s look at just a few ways we can sell it using the power of branding:
- You are being the best mum by feeding your kids this healthy dish they are bound to love
- Instantly transform yourself into a chef and your dishes into a restaurant quality dish with this delicious sauce
- This sauce was made from the best ingredients the world has to offer. Simplicity is key and you are the most sophisticated person out there for buying it
- A trip to Italy in a jar.
- Like your nanna used to make it
- Taste the nature - from farmer to plate
- Your secret ingredient - don’t tell anyone!
- 3 veg in 1 little jar - be healthy with this sauce
- Australia’s most loved tomato sauce - we’ve been cooking it for generations
- Our family’s secret recipe!
Branding takes a product or service and turns it into a story - one capable of evolving and becoming an essential part of our lives not because we need it but because we love it. Branding done right is not static but allows the product to change. Just like a living being a brand needs to react to what’s happening in the world and grow with it. The best example of how powerful branding can be is looking at fashion. A denim handbag made by Chanel today (just checked!) costs a whopping $8,760. It’s a lovely bag that will last you for quite a while but with a price similar to a small car some may think it is a bit excessive (read crazy). Similar bag can be purchased for a mare $12 which means that for the price of one Chanel you could purchase 730 of them. While it may cost a bit more to make the Chanel bag, the difference surely can not justify the 730 to 1 ratio. If you are a woman, chances are that the moment I put those 2 things together you instantly thought that I shouldn’t compare them - it’s Chanel after all! But when you look at the bags themselves with all tags removed they really aren’t all that different. They are of similar size and made from very similar materials. They will carry your things just as well as one another. But there is one thing that really pulls them apart. One is just a bag - a cute one of course but while it looks good that’s where its power ends. The other one is ‘A CHANEL’. It’s a symbol of status, a sign that you have class, good taste and of course money. It brings out the Parisian chic in you and makes you belong to a specific circle of those more privileged. A prized possession you will take great care of, and maybe even hand down to your granddaughter. And all this is because of the story Chanel managed to create, maintain and most importantly sell it to the world.
While the Chanel example focuses on how branding may affect the price, there is nothing wrong with your brand not being expensive. ASOS is doing amazingly well and is selling their beautiful $12 bags to a huge amount of women who love the fact that they can afford the cute denim accessory. But branding can truly make or break your product. We all heard about the big brands changing their logos and their customers hating it. Who can forget the terrible GAP redesign that had to revert back after only a few months out there. But the things we never hear about are the smaller companies - those who simply never got off the ground because their branding failed to connect with the consumers. So I thought I’d share a story of a client I’ve worked with earlier in my career. At the time I was working in an agency in Sydney and we specialised in branding and packaging for FMCG (fast moving consumer goods such as food, drinks etc) products. It was a big agency and our prices were pretty high. A lovely couple who already had a few products on the market came to us for a quote for creating a brand for their new range dips. The product was lovely - a healthy, all natural, dip topped with yummy ingredients. It looked and tasted delicious! The couple already had a distribution sorted with Coles taking on this new product. Unfortunately our price was simply too high for them so they decided to engage a cheap designer who could do it quickly and cheaply. They believed that it was a pretty smart decision. The brand was designed and packaging done and their delicious dip was put on a shelves in on of the biggest stores in Australia. You’d think it would be a story of success. Unfortunately what the cheap designer failed to do was taking their time to understand who the product was for and and create a story that connected with them. Instead they created a generic brand that looked like million others and one that was instantly forgettable. It was a cheap job and unfortunately it looked it. The delicious dip was sitting on the shelves of the biggest supermarket in Australia and simply disappeared on it. It was a disaster. No one was buying it, no one wanted to give it a try. And worse of all it was food so the product was perishing quickly losing the lovely couple a huge amount of money. A few months after they came to us for a quote they were back. This time though they understood the value of good design. We did the job properly. Distilled what the product was all about, who it was for and what was truly unique and I’ve designed a brand and packaging that I love to this day. The newly branded product went to Coles and this time it was flying off the shelves. The funny thing is that the product inside has not changed one bit. Soon other stores started selling it too and they have been running successfully for years now.