June 2018
Expand Your Brand - Cookbooks

Jeffrey Spear - President, Studio Spear

Jeff Spear

Brand building has become the holy grail of marketing and an essential component of business sustainability. So how exactly do you go about building a brand? And once you build it, what can you do to maintain or expand it?


Let's start with definitions. In my book, understanding brands is simple. Any time you use the word "brand," you should be able to substitute the word "reputation."


You will understand better if we use Oreo (cookies) as an example. Just by reading the name "Oreo" in this article, you may be remembering the chocolaty cookie, the white goo, or reminiscing about a childhood memory. You may also be thinking about the packaging, going to the supermarket for an extra bottle of milk or how much you enjoyed them. These elements, collectively, are the reputation that Oreo has generated. For you, this is the Oreo brand.

The key to brands is that they exist in the minds of others and will be different from person to person. If you consider them to be an accurate reflection of your business, all you need to do is make sure that absolutely every encounter, experience and perception linked to you organization aligns with the expectations of your core consumer audience. In my book, this means you make a quality product, sell it at a fair price, respect your customers, make valuable contributions to the community and always act with unwavering honesty and integrity.

So what happens after you have established a strong and viable brand? Your customers already know and love what you have to offer and are loyal patrons. To expand the value of your brand, you can always penetrate new markets and attract new customers. That being said, you may prefer to give brand advocates new ways to engage by introducing related products - line extensions - that are equally rewarding. For the purposes of this article, let's focus on this second option.

If you are a frequent shopper like me, you may have noticed that you can now buy Oreo ice cream, Oreo cakes, Oreo icing, Oreo yogurt, Oreo chocolate bars, Oreo brownies, Oreo milkshakes and, yes, an Oreo cookbook. When you consider this astonishing variety, the most remarkable quality is that every product, no matter its category, clearly aligns well with the original Oreo cookie concept - a sweet and enjoyable treat and provides a variety of ways in which the Oreo advocate can engage with the brand.

Cookbooks, regardless of industry, product or service, are powerful brand extensions. Just as Oreo has produced so many satisfying alternatives to the cookie itself, a cookbook can be an effective brand extension for your business - even if your business is not food related.

For businesses that operate in foodservice, food manufacturing or food retailing, having a cookbook makes perfect sense. For companies operating outside of culinary industries, cookbooks represent opportunities for staff to collaborate and build rapport. Just imagine the morale building benefits that can be achieved when your staff get together to share and taste recipes and publish a cookbook. In addition, the book becomes a gift that can be incorporated into sales retention programs as well as new business marketing endeavors.

All this being said, cookbooks are not without their challenges. Here are some important aspects to consider:
DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVE   Know what you want to achieve with a branded cookbook before you invest time and money.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE   Cookbooks can function as a valued culinary tool, souvenir or keepsake premium. Knowing what your target audience likes, and having a cookbook tailored to suit those preferences, is important.
ANTICIPATE THE RETAIL PRICE   The number of recipes, pages and manufacturing specifications will all contribute to the cost of your book. Deciding a retail price in advance will allow you to work out production specifications and edition size.
ESTABLISH APPROPRIATE BUDGETS   Depending on the impact you wish to achieve, your budget should include copywriting, design, photography, printing and public relations. Don't forget to factor in costs for manufacturing and shipping and, if applicable, wholesale pricing and commissions.
ANTICIPATE THE POINT OF SALE   If sales will be generated from your operation alone, all you'll need is a bookshelf. If you want placement around town or in major bookstores nationwide, you'll need to find a distributor.
ANTICIPATE PUBLICITY   If you want to get the attention of cookbook buyers, or have a specific marketing agenda, a good public relations agency will help you attract media attention, obtain reviews and organize special events. Without broad exposure through the media, you will need to rely primarily on in-house sales.
MAKE 'EM DROOL   With the glut of cookbooks on the market, you'll need more than a company name, no matter how well known it is. Recognizing food as a very emotional category, your book should appeal to the senses, attract attention and make readers hungry.
FACILITATE GREAT MEALS   Make sure your recipes are thoroughly tested, properly organized, well written and easy to follow. You'll want to verify that the culinary experiences promised by your book are achievable.

Ultimately, cookbooks provide opportunities for people to connect with your brand at home. Whether given as gifts, used in the kitchen or simply displayed on coffee tables, you have the opportunity to build new and lasting impressions. Assuming the collective experiences generated by this book produce favorable outcomes, your brand will be significantly enhanced.


If the time has come to overhaul, update and re-invigorate your brand image, or you'd like to change up your marketing program, please call 904 685 2135 - ask for Jeff Spear. You can also contact Jeff via email: jeff@studiospear.com.

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