Branding Bananas     by Paul Taccini 

The other day I played golf with a young oyster farmer from Wellfleet.  After learning all I needed to know about aquaculture, our discussion moved on to branding.  His oysters are shipped around the world under the Wellfleet name which is actually used by the seafood distributors to designate where they are farmed rather than it being a true brand, or is it?  

But, what is a brand?  Webster’s defines it as a “trademark” or a ” class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer”.  It stands for and connotes an image of the company.  Some brands have evolved over time without a large amount of forethought and planning, but the stronger and more successful brands are consciously developed.   Branding any product can be expensive and difficult but branding what is essentially a generic product like oysters or bananas is doubly difficult.  Successful branding almost always requires a point or points of difference, which can be identified and positioned for the consumer.  If you will, the unique marginal difference. You present the answer to the question (Why should I buy this product?) before the question is asked. 

In a simplified picture of brand development, you will first have to identify the elements you want to use for your brand.  Often it is the company name, but it can be a design like the Nike swoosh.  Next you need to establish a budget for the branding effort.  Since developing a brand takes time, this should be a multi-year look at what you will need to spend in both time and money.   This is also a good point to decide whether or not to move forward.  In some instances, the effort may not be worth the expense or have a realistic payback.  The creation of a brand requires research:  1. You will want to formally identify those unique aspects of your product or line which set you apart from the competition as these will ultimately be the basis for your message.  2. You will want to define who the customer is or will be.  Age and general demographics of the target audience will play a large part in focusing your campaign. 3. There is a need to determine a positioning regarding the quality/price relationship as there are several options available.  4. You must make sure that what you have chosen is not already trademarked.  5.  If you are going to the effort of developing a brand, protect it with a trademark.  

Packaging, informational/promotional literature, stationary, business cards, catalogs, etc. All come into the equation as does everything you do or say about your product.  Everything must be consistent and tied together promoting a single, positive image.  The last aspect of brand development involves advertising and public relations.  If your budget is small, public relations efforts go a long way to stretching these dollars.  Awareness builds more gradually with public relations than with advertising.  Each can be used independently of the other.  In a perfect world you would use a combination of both. 

Lastly, something to keep in mind is that not all products can or should be branded directly.  There are ways to develop a brand around a group of products which cannot be freestanding.  They can also be successfully marketed under a company or corporate umbrella brand. 

 

Senior Business Consultants, LLC