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Recipe to Retail Part 4: Why You Need a Brand Strategy

May 9, 2017

by Birgit Blain

Setting the Stage for Success

Building a sustainable brand is a slow process. And it takes money, lots of it! Formulating a well-thought-out brand strategy before taking the plunge will reduce the risks and improve prospects for commercial success.

What is a brand?

Because a brand is not a tangible thing, there are an infinite number of definitions. In the simplest terms, a brand is like a promise (more on that later).

What is a brand strategy?

A brand strategy is based on the business objectives and serves as a roadmap for decision-making for all members of the organization. It is generated from a thorough understanding of the target customer’s needs, together with an unbiased view of how the brand compares to the competition.

It is important for all members of the team – product developers, graphic designers, web content writers, social media managers, distributors, etc. –  to understand the strategy, target customer and competitive environment. Working collaboratively, rather than in isolation, is essential to ensure consistent execution.

Key ingredients

A brand strategy puts product development in context, by imparting critical knowledge about:

  • the purpose of the brand and what values it represents;
  • the target customer and how the brand meets their needs;
  • the point of difference that distinguishes the brand from its competitors; and
  • the promise that must be kept.

Applying these guidelines adds a customer perspective and is beneficial for defining project parameters and making decisions such as:

  • product attributes and benefits;
  • ingredient selection and sourcing;
  • packaging; and
  • of utmost importance, pricing.

Creating the brand promise

Careful consideration should be given to what the brand is promising. Does it align with business objectives? Does it meet the target customer’s needs? Does it set standards that some areas of the business, like product development, cannot achieve?

To earn a customer’s trust, the promise must be delivered consistently including:

  • product and packaging performance;
  • marketing messages;
  • pricing and promotions;
  • food safety and quality control;
  • how and where the product is sold;
  • social media engagement;
  • customer service and even how the phone is answered.

Why should they buy it?

A “positioning statement”, for internal use, summarizes what sets the brand apart and describes:

  • the target customer and their problem or need;
  • in what category the brand competes;
  • the point of difference (also known as the USP or unique selling proposition) versus competitors, and how it solves the customer’s problem; and
  • evidence to support the claim

Here’s an example: “For busy mom’s who can’t slow down, XYZ brand delivers sustained energy without the sugar high and crash of other energy bars, as shown in clinical studies.”

With the brand strategy in hand, you have a framework for the marketing plan, which outlines how the brand message is communicated. These are essential ingredients to create a brand your customers will seek out, buy, grow to trust and talk about.

© Birgit Blain

This article was published in Food in Canada magazine.

As a packaged foods consultant, Birgit Blain helps brands that struggle to get listings. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw and President’s Choice®. Contact her at [email protected] and subscribe to her Food Biz Blog for valuable advice