Do you have a great foundation that you can grow from or does your brand need a little more work?
The goal here is to help you identify any opportunity areas that will strengthen your brand marketing.
An audit makes sense for:
We’ll walk through the marketing fundamentals that create your brand and product strategy.
Your brand is more than just your products; it’s a lifestyle.
In order to build strong brand equity, you need to be clear about who you are so you can communicate this to all of your creative partners that help bring your brand to life. You’re probably working with a handful of creatives to create your social content, website, and packaging. Each of these partners needs to understand your brand as well as you do and these tools will help you communicate your brand equity.
Brand DNA is everything that makes you, you. There are a lot of pieces to your brand DNA but I like to focus on your brand’s Mission, Values, Beliefs, Product Benefits and Voice. Each of these pillars of your Brand DNA explain who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. You will refer back to your Brand DNA again and again to guide you as you make tradeoffs and make critical business decisions: do I go with option A or option B?
A strong brand has a single source of truth on your Brand DNA that you can share with all of your stakeholders.
Brand Positioning is how your brand comes to life in-market, particularly in comparison to your competitors. This is the elevator pitch of your brand’s value proposition. A formal brand positioning statement looks like this: for (consumer target), (your brand) provides (point of differentiation). That’s because (reason to believe). As you grow, your Brand Positioning will evolve as you expand your brand equity and consumers give your brand permission to live in more areas of their life.
A strong brand has a Brand Positioning analysis of your brand and all of your competitors, the role each plays in your category, and how they’ve done in market.
Target Consumer is your ideal consumer, who loves your product, wants to buy more of it, and tell all of their friends and family, too. Understanding your target consumer is critical because it informs so much of what you do – what products your target consumers will love, what they care about so your creative assets are on point, where they spend time so you can find them and tell them about your brand.
A strong brand has a North Star target consumer profile with demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral details and a couple of halo consumer profiles that are adjacent to your target consumer.
Now that we’ve discussed all the elements of a strong Brand Strategy, let’s turn to a strong Product Strategy. Your Product Strategy will be different for each of your product lines but not for each flavor. This is often referred to as the 4 (or sometimes 5) P’s of marketing. Writing down each of these elements does two things: it ensures that your team is aligned on why this product is awesome and how it’s going to go-to-market and ensures that all of your stakeholders know, too
Product Positioning is how your product comes to life in-market, particularly in comparison to the products you’ll be sitting on-shelf next to. You know the drill here: this is the elevator pitch of your product’s value proposition. A formal brand positioning statement looks like this: for (consumer target), (your brand) provides (point of differentiation). That’s because (reason to believe).
A strong product has a Product Positioning analysis of your product and all of your competitive products. This can include claims and nutritional comparisons.
Communication Hierarchy is how you talk about how amazing your product is. Often, products have so much about them that is special and amazing, but consumers remember one, maybe two, things about your product. It’s hard to make these choices, but if you don’t, no one will hear you shouting from the rooftops. Your communication hierarchy is the prioritized list of what you want consumers to remember about your product. This is what goes on the front of your package.
A strong product has a Communication Hierarchy of 3-5 prioritized elements that convey your Product Positioning.
Packaging is your #1 marketing asset. Every one of your consumers see it, the shoppers of your category sees it, and it lives in your consumers’ houses where their friends and family will see it. Your packaging needs to communicate your Product Positioning using the Communication Hierarchy that you’ve created, but it also needs to stand out on-shelf next to your competitors. Think about the 6, 2, and 1 foot view of your packaging: does it stand out when you’re looking for something to buy, does it communicate who you are when a potential consumer zeroes in on your shelf, and does it close the deal when your potential consumer picks it up to decide if they want to buy it? Remember, consumers make purchasing decisions in 4-6 seconds so you need to communicate everything you are in that short amounts of time.
A strong product stands out on shelf and has packaging that clearly communicates its Product Positioning and Communication Hierarchy.
Place is the retailers that your products are being sold at. Does your Target Consumer meet their consumer profile? If not, you won’t have product flying off the shelves because the people that love your product don’t shop at that store. Where you’re selling your product must work together with the other elements of your go-to-market strategy of Product Positioning and Packaging. What works at Whole Foods may not work at Walmart because of their different consumer profiles, merchandising strategies, and products on-shelf.
A strong product has a clear strategy on the Places where their product will sell well in based on their Target Consumer and Product Positioning.
Promotions are how you’ll get your product in front of new consumers. This is a combination of your Marketing Plan and your trade promotional support. (For more on Marketing Plans, check out Nourishing Food Marketing’s Definitive Guide to Creating a Marketing Plan for Food and Beverage Brands). You’ll need to drive awareness and trial of your product now that it’s in-market! Retailers also love it when you show how you’re supporting your product’s sales with a Marketing Plan and trade promotional support.
A strong product has a Marketing Plan that clearly lays out how you’ll Promote your product - your marketing tactics and metrics. This will allow you to efficiently and effectively get products into your consumer’s hands.
Christie Lee is Founder of Nourishing Food Marketing, an action-oriented brand marketing consultancy and partner of Rodeo CPG. As a Harvard MBA, former food founder, and classically trained Big Food brand marketer, she works exclusively with emerging food and beverage brands.
Check out her Brand Marketing Diagnostic for an in-depth framework for conducting your Marketing Audit and getting clear about your Brand Equity.