You can have the best tasting, most delicious food or drink product on the market but if no one tries it, no one will ever know, 90% of a first-time purchase is based on the branding; it’s why a consumer will pick your product over their regular choice or your competition.
Your branding is as important as the product itself.
Belle spoke to Richard Horwell – owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London, to find out what startups should consider when branding their product.
Over the last 13 years, Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of more than 100 brands in the UK. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in the food and drink sectors. He has over 30 years’ experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East.
Richard told Belle: “Don’t confuse design with branding, as many agencies do. Branding is the message you want to give your target consumer – and that message should be ‘BUY ME’.”
So how do you communicate your message to your target audience? Here’s what Richard suggests:
When you start developing your product you need to ask a lot of questions. For example: ‘what is unique about this product?’; ‘why is it better than the competition’; ‘should I risk spending money on this untried brand?’; ’does this product offer value for money?’ Your branding needs to answer all these questions.
The best place to educate your target audience is on your product’s packaging, so your branding needs to be clear and perfect.
Connect to what your audience already understands
We tend to pigeonhole everything in our lives. Whether we are conscious of it or not, when we see a new brand, we put it in its place. So, if you are attempting to break new ground with an idea or base ingredient then you need to add something to the mix that the consumer knows.
For example, we have just developed a drink based on the Stinging Nettle called Emunity. To help consumers to try this we’ve added ingredients and flavours they recognise, like gooseberry, cucumber and wild strawberry.
The key is to make the messaging is easy to understand and include elements that consumers can understand instantly.
To get your branding right, you need to ask yourself and others some questions:
1/ Where will this product sell and what brands will sit alongside it? How will my product stand out against them?
2/ What is my brand message? For example, is it based on health, functionality, spoiling yourself or great taste?
3/ Will my consumer be able to read the messages I have on the packaging from a distance, without picking it up?
4/ Does my brand look premium enough for the selling price?
5/ Why should a consumer buy my brand instead of their regular choice?
Getting the answers to these questions is the first step to creating brilliant branding.
It’s about them, not you
Today we have more choice of food and drinks than ever before and the big brands are no longer dominating the market. Many consumers want to try something different, but that doesn’t mean they have all day to stand around in-store or go online to research every product. They need to be drawn to a brand that relates to them.
So, make sure your message conveys this. Always focus on them, not you.
Point of Difference
In order to have any chance of success in today’s market you must have a point of difference. This needs to be very clear in your branding and messaging on the packaging. Just being vegan, for example, is not enough – there are masses of vegan brands now, and when it comes to drinks most of them are already vegan.
So, think about what makes your brand different. Make a list of these points and then pick the MOST important ones. These are the ones you should highlight on the packaging. The less important ones still need to be on there, but they can go on areas the consumer will read once they pick the product up.
Be wary of minimalism
Minimalism has become a trend with many designs jumping on the bandwagon. However, be careful not to make it too minimal. Find the right balance between doing too much or too little. You also don’t want to waffle; let your branding do the talking.
For example, FYX is a new collagen drink we’ve been working on. The recipe, branding and messaging has been designed to speak to sports people rather than beauty fans, so the messaging highlights the recovery and muscle repair benefits of collagen. This is delivered in a clean, no-fuss style. Minimalist yes, but also balanced – so the consumer can quickly understand what the drink is about.
Choose a name that is relevant
Start by researching your chosen brand name and make sure it is relevant to your product and your audience. Be clever with your brand name, find something that is simple but conveys your product’s message, not just a name that sounds cool to you and your family.
For example, we recently worked on the branding of an alcohol-free adaptation of the Chapman cocktail, which originated in Nigeria. The product name, ‘Afria’, was carefully chosen to convey both the drink’s African roots and the alcohol-free content. Whatever you choose, remember this name will be for the life of the brand, so make sure it has longevity.
Consumers want brands to be transparent and they want to understand the brand’s heritage and values. Is the product certified to be Vegan, Fairtrade or Organic? Which of these will resonate with your target audience? More recently consumers are looking for certifications like ‘B Corporation’, which commends businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns.
Wanting to buy from companies with matching values is an opportunity for new, indie brands as established companies can’t adapt quickly. For example, it takes time to replace artificial ingredients with natural ones, to change supply chains to Fairtrade or a more ethical source or create a business that cares about the environment. This is what today’s consumers are looking for and this is what your branding should communicate about your business.
Brilliant branding speaks directly to your target audience and says ‘buy me’ in a way that’s difficult to ignore. Get it right and your fledgling product will have the very best start in life.