September 2018
Time for a Branding Checkup

Jeffrey Spear - President, Studio Spear

Jeff Spear

With relentless competitive pressures, and new brands entering the marketplace all the time, it's surprising how frequently brand maintenance is overlooked, marginalized or dismissed altogether in favor of a quick fix.


While you may be saving a few bucks, or getting the work done faster, your competition is relentless, doing everything it can to put you out of business. No matter the product, service, producer, audience, or market, these are a few elements of brand building worth evaluating every year or so that will keep your brand fresh, vital, relevant and competitive.

1. Do your homework.    Research is the most commonly overlooked component of an annual marketing plan. As the saying goes, "You don't need a map if you don't care where you'll end up." So, make the investment and have a good understanding about your competitors, their value proposition, marketshare, and degree of penetration. At the same time, you'll want to know who your buyers are, what motivates them to purchase and how they feel about your offer.

2. Be distinctive.   In a crowded sales environment, your brand, your product and your offer need to stand apart from, and be perceived as superior value to, all others. In food categories, and before any other promotional tactic is considered, this is achieved with emotionally appealing brand imagery and packaging that cuts through the clutter and resonates favorably with key buyers. It remains true that packaging is the #1 sales influencer. To pursue shortcuts and cost savings that can easily compromise brand impact at the most vital point of contact is simply foolish.

3. Make 'em drool.   Effective brands generate positive emotional responses. When you consider that food is an undeniably sensual category, finding ways to make buyers feel good about your brand and your products is essential. This means that every encounter should be delightful, stimulating and enjoyable. It's like Pavlov's dog. When buyers interact with your brand, including packaging, website, tradeshow booth, advertising, social media, sales literature, etc., their immediate response should be one of excitement, enthusiasm and unbridled desire.

4. Demonstrate empathy.   Take the time to understand the lifestyle preferences and motivating emotional forces that influence your key buyers. When you demonstrate a clear understanding of their background, knowing what gets them excited, acknowledging what has them frustrated, and recognizing their most pressing needs, you will be better positioned to establish rapport, gain trust (albeit limited - earning trust takes a long time) and influence sales.

5. Act responsibly.   Building great brands boils down to issues of integrity and reputation. While quality and reliability of your product is essential, how you act can make or break your business. Providing responsive customer service, building mutually beneficial vendor relationships, creating supportive working environments and making ongoing contributions to the community are all worthwhile pursuits.

So there you have it. Just a few tips that should keep your brand in excellent form. Just like getting a checkup from your doctor, it's important to give your brand a thorough going-over every year or so. After all, maintaining a competitive presence and staying relevant to your key audiences is vital to operational sustainability and well being.


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:

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