I have been asked to design more brands than I ever thought I would since starting Cherrysites commercially. It has taken me right back to my 'blue chip' training at H.J. Heinz, Glaxo Smithkline and Premier Foods.
These were some of my first marketing roles out of university and have stood me in really good stead as I've branched out of what most would consider a 'linear' career path - working in international charities, the financial sector, the electronics sector and for a number of smaller food brands to help take them to the next step of their brand evolution.
If you're interested in my more impassioned blog about how a brand is not just a brand but the very essence of your company's DNA, look elsewhere. If you're interested in what a brand is versus the nuts and bolts of the product that you're launching, this is the post for you.
So in its narrow (product/service related) sense, what is a brand?
To answer that, I'm actually going to start by talking about what it's not! It's not your product or the attributes of your product. A product is about cold, hard facts: what it looks like; tastes like; the flavour variant; or what it’s for.
The perfect example of a brand which made the mistake of focusing on its product benefit for its advertising was Persil in its great 1970's clash with Ariel. Persil outperformed Ariel in every wash test going - you probably remember the 'side by side' ads of Persil 'washing whiter' in comparison with 'the leading other brand' (Ariel). Despite the rational facts, people JUST KEPT BUYING ARIEL. WHy? Because they loved it. They loved it ENOUGH they didn't care that it DIDN'T WORK as well as Persil! A completely emotional brand decision! Did you know that when you buy your favourite brand you receive a huge dopamine hit? One that you don't get as soon as you move to even your second favourite brand?
A brand is about the ethos of the product or service: how it’s made; who makes it; what its makers believe; where it comes from; and how it’s sourced. Your brand is what EMOTIONALLY differentiates your product or service from the competition. It’s why your consumer chooses your brand over another – you stand for something that resonates with them. Whether it’s the fact that you not only create the ecology plan but have all the hands on skills to deliver it yourself or the fact that you're a ninja at repairing Ferraris with the exact leathers that they use themselves and know where to source them.
Its also about being clever about where you turn up and market yourself - as in Ed Sheeran's case when he was getting nowhere with his singing and songwriting deciding to turn up at rap nights where everyone else was black to get noticed - it worked on night 1!
There’s always a story to tell and a clever to make you stand out - a lot of my job is about helping clients identify that and 'own it'. Identify that unique piece of DNA, then build a brand to bring that to life in consumers’ minds.
Think about your favourite brands - what makes them unique? The founders? The way the product is made? The ingredients? The packaging? The unusual graphics for the category that they're in? The clever promotions which resonate with you and reflect the brand's values? The service that you get when you contact them? The fact that their information comes to you in the right place at the right time? As you can quickly see, you're buying a whole lot more than a product in most of your choices as a consumer!