You may have walked by places where there are a lot of street vendors. Whether the people are selling cheap watches or hot dogs, they seem to be hawking the same merchandise, saying the same things with similar signs up. You may wonder how a customer can possibly make a distinction between one street vendor and another. It’s natural that they are all hollering that they have the lowest prices because there doesn’t seem to be anything else that is distinctive about their products. As a result, they have to yell loudly and mark things down to move their merchandise.
The above scenario shows the difficulty of brandless marketing. The street vendors are not developing a brand but have to sell existing brands. Therefore, they can’t really say anything about their merchandise except that it is in very good condition and very cheap. If you are running a startup and are in the position of developing a brand, you have a significant advantage over the street vendors. You can go beyond simply saying your product is the least expensive and works efficiently, and can create entire essence around your product that makes it unique.
We are surrounded not only by street vendors, but virtual street vendors every time we check our email or Facebook wall. It seems that people are trying to sell us things everywhere we go. Developing a brand involves not just selling someone an item, but providing something deeper and more satisfying. The main thing to keep in mind when marketing products is addressing the question of what makes your product unique.
The answer to this question creates the foundation for your brand philosophy. What may be unique about your brand is that it is made of natural and organic ingredients. However, you need to take that a step further and answer the question of what makes your natural and organic product different from all other natural and organic products, and so on, until you identify the one or two things that make your product unique. Once you have identified that quality, you should emphasize it in the development of your brand
You don’t have to be a psychic to figure out what’s on the horizon. You don’t even need to be the first one there, but can jump in on a trend early on if you see there are enough factors present to give it momentum. The healthy eating trend, for instance, has been around since the 1960s, but it has taken various forms. The popularity of tofu in the 80s was followed by an increasing awareness about organic food in the 90s. Veganism seemed like a new thing a few years ago, and now it is a way of life among millennials.
An astute brand developer stays aware of news and trends and can have an idea of where things are going, and this helps brand development. It was clear through the years that interest in healthy eating continued to grow and didn’t wane.
A David and Goliath Tale of Branding
The story of Hampton Creek illustrates how a new brand can overtake a traditional one because of shifting attitudes among consumers. Hampton Creek, the developer of the Just Mayo brand was hit with lawsuits by Unilever, who owns Hellmann’s real mayonnaise. Unilever claimed that Hampton Creek did not have the right to use the term “mayo” for its brand because its mayonnaise replacement did not have real eggs and could not be considered as mayo. The news could have damaged a small company that didn’t have a trend to support its brand. However, the public was much more interested in healthy eating than in old-fashioned mayonnaise, and as a result of the news story, more people became aware of the vegan mayonnaise alternative. This led to Just Mayo appearing in the aisles of supermarkets when before it was sold mainly in health food stores.
The Trend is Your Friend
When it comes to branding, regard the trend as your friend even if it doesn’t seem to be. If your product appears to be going the opposite direction of where the trend is going, then it may be time to diversify or to tweak your branding. Promoting a brand is much easier if the public is in the mood to accept it and it is a good idea to not only stay aware of trends but to anticipate where they’re going.