There is a lot of talk in the world of marketing these days about branding. Most people have a concept of a brand, in fact, brands influence our day-to-day purchasing decisions in ways we don’t realize. When we reach for one box of detergent in an aisle filled with choices, it might be because of a commercial jingle or a witty ad. Just as often, customers buy a product not because of captivating advertising, but because they feel it represents their viewpoint or way of life.
Who Is Your Customer?
Many branding strategies begin with envisioning who the typical consumer of your product is. This could be based on past sales or the people you see coming into your stores or it could also include a concept of a target customer and a demographic you want to reach. Think about the age, gender, profession and the geographical region this prototypical customer lives. What does he or she like to do in their spare time? What are their goals and objectives? What do they value?
How a Brand Becomes a Movement
Envisioning the typical customer is a step many companies make when forming a marketing strategy, but beyond demographics and other interests are essential causes your customers believe in. When you can tie your brand to a particular cause that is discussed often in the media, like the environment or science education, you have tapped into a need for your product. As a consumer, you walk past a variety of things every day you want but don’t buy. However, if you feel you need it, you are more likely to buy it. If your brand is tied to things your customers feel passionate about, such as healthy eating, you may generate many more new customers.
The Key to a Lifestyle Brand
The healthy eating trend is an example of a phenomenon that has popularized a number of brands, such as Whole Foods and Hampton Creek. In a sense, food is not only lifestyle, but it is life, and it is an activity most people engage in at least three times a day. This means, of course, repeat sales if a company manages to create a lifestyle around a brand. Even before veganism became a major movement, Hampton Creek’s products appeared on the shelves of health food stores. The explosion in the number of people opting for dairy and egg-free foods was a boon to the brand, which symbolizes a lifestyle.
In addition to a number of high-profile celebrities who have announced that they are swearing off meat, dairy and eggs as the trend as it plays out on social media. Groups dedicated to veganism and healthy eating in general post Hampton creek recipes for favorites, such as chocolate chip cookies, dips and cakes that contain no animal products. Recipes are an effective way to promote a brand, because they are a necessity, reinforce the healthy eating lifestyle and encourage purchasing the actual products. In addition, sharing recipes is a favorite social media activity that garners many “likes” and shares on Facebook.
When Conflict Can Help a Brand
Many brands have suffered from bad press or litigation, and may require a substantial amount of public relations resuscitation to recapture their former glory. However, in some cases, conflict can be good for a brand, as it was with Hampton Creek. The company’s egg-free imitation mayonnaise product called Just Mayo graced the shelves, not just of health food stores, but big box retailers like Wal-Mart. Unilever filed a lawsuit against the company for referring to its product as “mayo” even though it contained no eggs.
Rather than hurting Hampton Creek, sales of its product tripled quickly, and the conflict was good for business. The reason why Hampton Creek thrived in the midst of controversy was that its brand represented something new and healthy, while its adversary Unilever was touting the “old fashioned” definition of mayonnaise.
Branding in the 1950s involved a lot of talking and telling the customer why they should want a product. In later decades, soft sell became the name of the game and representing the brand with a slogan or image. Nowadays, branding is about creating a lifestyle or representing a philosophy of life. If a customer feels that brand represents who they are, what they believe in and how they eat and live on a day-to-day basis, they will be loyal to the brand.