How to Brand Your Product


By Nadine Sharon Anglin

Strong branding helps a consumer easily recognize a product, what it stands for, and why it's better than the other guys. Developing the right branding isn't a simple task, so we've put together our top tips to help get you started.

Scope Out the Competition and then Position

Begin by researching what’s already on the market and decide how your product fits in. Identify the distinct benefit or experience your product can offer that will set it above the rest.

"We always start with a discovery phase where we conduct a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats—of both the brand and the competition," says Eric Boulden, president and principal at Jump Branding & Design in Toronto.

During this discovery phase, identify the opportunities available. What have other competitors missed? What are they doing particularly well? Knowing all this will help you develop a strategy for your brand.

Define Your Brand and Develop Its Identity

What does your brand stand for and how will you get this message across to consumers? From the logo, to the slogan, to the package design—everything must reinforce your product's benefits and uniqueness.

"We ask questions such as: what are the differentiators? What does the consumer know about the category or product? What do we want them to know?,” says Boulden. “We look to identify where the brand will be positioned in the marketplace and where it will be seen on the shelf."

Innovative food line, ET Salad Kits, convinced grocers to place their product in the produce section of the supermarket instead of the over-crowded condiments aisle. This helped them to stand out.

"Food decisions can be impulsive and emotional so it's crucial that you convince the consumer to try your product… highlighting the flavour profile, presentation, and ease of preparation is key,”" Boulden adds.

Launch Your Brand and Monitor Its Success

Your product's launch is critical to its success, especially in the food category. "A very attractive marketing strategy is trial—get people to experience the product. It’s a cost-effective way to allow consumers to experience the product first-hand," says Professor David Soberman, the Canadian National Chair in Strategic Marketing at the Rotman School of Management.

And don’t think because you're new, you’re at a disadvantage. Brainstorm fresh new ways to make your mark. "The opportunity to create emotional connections to the product through photography, communication, and design is ultimately what will help a new product line get noticed in the clutter of packaging on shelves or other display points in the retail environment," adds Boulden.

The Dos and Don’ts of Branding

DO make communication about your product a priority. "When you brand a new product you need to make sure your target consumers know about it. Communication is critical," says Soberman.

DO be credible. Consumers can see through smoke and mirrors.

DON’T send unclear marketing messages. "If Product A is the highest-quality offer in a product line don’t a) sell it at a low price to get it started b) distribute it through discount stores or c) take short cuts in the production/packaging of the product," says Boulden.

DON'T be a copycat—stand out from the retail clutter.

DON'T design to the latest fad. It takes time to build up a loyal consumer base and you don’t want to lose them when the trend goes out of style.

DON’T water down your brand's image for fear of being different. Identify what sets your brand apart and celebrate it. Make the market remember you!

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