In an industry where everything is similar, there is really only one way to be different. The battle of the brands is happening at all times - it’s probably happening around & on you right now. The phone you chose was a battle of Apple vs Android, the jeans you wear probably Levi vs Wrangler, the car you drive Ford v Chevy v Ram v every other car company, and so on. In the world with thousand look-alike offerings, what separates one from the other? Easy answers are a name, brand colors, price, etc. but the real answer incorporates all potential answers: your brand. And while entire industries have realized and invested heavily here, one industry has noticeably lagged behind: produce.
Consider this for a moment: If you asked the average person to name produce brands, how many do you think they could name? For many, that answer is zero. Maybe they’d know Cuties, possibly even Dole and Chiquita, and if they could name any beyond that, I’d be astounded. Go further by asking them to tell you the difference in brand identity between Dole and Chiquita, I'd bet they'd just look at you dumbfounded.
This highlights the lacking brand awareness within the industry, and it’s leaving millions of dollars off the table for farmers. For the brands that have mastered cultivating their brand identity through increasing brand awareness, the spoils are quite bountiful; the same can be done for any brand in any market, even for produce.
So how does one create that brand identity? And if you take the time to create one, what methods are needed to make consumers' aware it even exists? Let’s talk about it!
We’ve mentioned brand identity a good deal - what exactly is it? Simply put, brand identityis the collection of elements a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. The colors of your brand, the packaging consumers see in the aisle, the sweetness of your product; it all culminates in the mental picture consumers create when they engage with your product. That said, you may be confused at what more you can do. After all, you have a colorful logo, eye-catching packaging, and I’m sure you believe your product to be the best. What more can you do?
This is where, in my mind, the missing element of what separates good brands from iconic brands comes into play. The separation factor: the collection of elements that make your brand image personable & unique to a consumer. Anyone can have a unique logo, with beautiful packaging, but how does it connect with consumers? Does it make your product feel personable, or just a shiny but lifeless package to entire buyers?
Look no further than Cuties, the crown jewel in the produce brand game. They made mandarin oranges, the neglected step-brother of the star pupil Orange, a direct competitor to the Citrus giants. The tactics they employed were plentiful, innovative, and praise-worthy, but the crux of their rise in popularity is simple: A personable & unique brand around their product's unique selling points.
What ways can your brand do the same in your market of choice? Let’s answer a few questions to find out.
Business writer & keynote speaker Simon Sinek wrote a wonderful book called “Start with Why”. The sparknote version: The best way to optimize your brand is knowing what’s your why. Why do you exist? Why is your brand different from competitors?
A series of questions can help you find this out:
Your mission (what’s your “why?”)
Your values (what beliefs drive your company?)
Your brand personality (if your brand was a person, what kind of personality would they have?)
Your unique positioning (how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?)
Your brand voice (if your brand was a person, how would it communicate?)
Once you’ve got it down, find the place where your brand aligns with a gap in the market, and plant your flag in the ground. But how does one plant the flag?
If you’re stumped, try filling out the Valuable Competitive Position Venn Diagram.. With this you can outline your companies values & capabilities, determine what the opportunity in your market is, and find the overlap between all three. An example of what this looks like can be found below:
Let’s assume you’ve got a good understanding of where the valuable competitive position for your brand is: How do you create a brand experience that fits that mold? We already wrote a piece about the importance of consumer experience, diving into the tangible results of a great point-of-purchase experience (highly recommended if you want to learn exactly how the benefits will help your bottom-line and brand awareness & goodwill). Outside of a point-of-purchase experience, here are several ways to build your brand awareness and create a killer brand position.
Colors are more than hex codes - they have intangible properties that tell stories to the brain. There are extensive studies on color theory - how does your brand reflect these colors?
Eco-friendly growing? Throw in some green and yellows. Focused on drawing eyeballs on shelf-space & making consumers hungry? Try some warm colors like red & orange. Maybe your brand is focused on cool, calm tones? Blues are your best bet.
Beyond colors, the importance of imagery can’t be overstated. What images align with your products and company image, and how can they be incorporated into your branding?
Whatever you think your brand positioning should be, find the relevant colors & images, and tailor your brand design to them.
Cuties paved the way for content creation in the produce space (Note: we promise this isn’t a Cuties-sponsored article). They knew what their brand was, what elements of it would boost awareness and goodwill, and their content reflects it. This also reflects the biggest difference between produce & other industry brands: one invests heavily in content to engage consumers beyond seeing their product at the point-of-sale, the other...not so much.
Content is king: how can your “kingdom” create content to grow their brand beyond the shelf? There are tons of ways:
Point-of-sale Consumer Engagement Platform
Social Media pages
These are but a few of the numerous ways you can build brand awareness & display what your brand represents. Invest in doing them all, or find your niche & give it all you’ve got!
This last one is abstract but it would be wrong to not include it. Content, brand colors & images, advertisements, it doesn’t matter - the purpose of all of it is to display the story of your brand to every consumer you engage with, at every touchpoint. At the end of the day, you can have the best products, the most vibrant colors, the funniest commercials, but there’s nothing that sells a product like a great story - and no one cashes in as much as the great storytellers.
What is your brand’s story? How do you express it to your consumers?
Unfortunately it’s hard to cheat on how to storytell, so we can’t give you the step-by-step guide on this one - it takes understanding of your company’s “why” and the characteristics of that why consumers care about. We can, however, point you to how other brands have gone about telling their stories.
Let's build a brand!
It’s impossible to give a step-by-step guide on building brand awareness, but we hope this can be a starting point. We believe that while every touchpoint is an opportunity for produce brands to boost their brand & engage consumers with their story comes at the most critical point - right in the grocery store. Talk to us further about the work we’ve done with farms across the country & how we can do the same for you!
You’re one step closer to making your brand pop out in every household - are you willing to take it?