The importance of branding and brand strategy for food and beverage startups

Food and Beverage Packaging Design Trends 2019

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In the current climate where the startup is ruling, it's more important than ever for your brand to stand out in an increasingly overcrowded market. For food and beverage this is definitely the case. Your brand will need to compete with so many other products on the shelves (if you get as far as being on the shelves) so whatever you create will not only have to scream exactly what you're all about instantly but above all else, your product will need to offer the consumer something they don't already have, to be the black sheep in the herd, to zig when everyone else zags.

The percentage of startups failing is somewhere around 90% in a range of reasons listing from not listening to their customers and no actual need / desire for the product, one of the main factors is poor branding and strategy. If your product looks bad or doesn't communicate your message clearly and effectively, you've failed. Even if it's a revolutionary idea, if you can't communicate that idea in a way that your consumers can get on board with, no one will get on board with it. Seems simple doesn't it? Yet so many people do this wrong.  The solution is to start with a clear strategy. When I'm asked to work with a startup, my first job is often to convince the customer to work with me on a clear and concise strategy. This is sometimes harder than you'd think as people tend to think just having a logo and bit of a brand will do. This is the wrong move. With a good strategy, it not only clearly informs us of how best to communicate your brand's personality (as no one knows that better than you), it will inform the work massively and enable the best and most direct work to communicate your message to be made and with that time made for customer research, you'll know as well as us exactly how to speak to your customers.

This brings me onto my next point of brand user testing, if you have the budget to do this, there is no better way to listen to your consumer / potential consumers than to test directly with them. You may already know that there is a strong need for your new product or service but with a bit of investment in consumer testing, this will be a huge indicator as to whether this product will be a hit or a flop. Determine whether there is a real need for your product and whether the general public will buy into your product and become loyal followers. You can test as simply and easily by contacting ten or twenty potential consumers and ask them about your new product or really deep diving into the data and have workshops, ideation sessions and Facebook marketing. Depending on how you want to do this, it’s a vital step in determining the need for your product and how customers react to various tones of voice and look and feel. 

We have a simple process for our performance marketing. We regularly use the A/B testing approach which, in a nutshell of means we test multiple routes for a number of different variables like the look and feel, tone of voice and overall messaging. We can whittle things down to the highest performing creations and ads from here and properly go live with that route.

Of course there are many success stories for FMCG brands who have approached their brand in this way. Propercorn are a fine example of a startup food and beverage brand who got it completely right. Propercorn grew 169 per cent between 2010 to 2015 zdn through their solid strategy managed to get a £7m investment and now sell into 10 European countries PROPERCORN’s growth has been fuelled by intense customer engagement via performance marketing and other design and marketing strategies and measured against the broadest competitor base. Graze were one of the earliest food subscription services in the UK, delivering healthier snacks in a box via mail. Subscribers can create an account online and tailor their preferences for snacks. The convenient service has now grown into supplying supermarkets with in-store snack bags and the company was bought by Unilever at the start of 2019 and are now worth around 150 million and again, all started with a direct strategy and a lot of social and performance marketing built around a strong core brand structure.  With these steps of strategy and testing, your branding will be well informed and better communicate to your target market setting you up with the best chance to succeed. 

Gordon Reid. 

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