Stephen Smith, chief marketing officer at Asda, recently emphasised the need for retailers to not only provide low prices but also communicate ‘brand personality’.
Unilever also acknowledged the importance of clear communication when chief marketing & communication officer Keith Weed stressed the importance of viewing people as “you, your mum, your sister and your friend” rather than just a “consumer”.
But conducting genuine conversations with your customers is easier said than done. The tricky part is aligning the conversation to their lifestyles and choosing a language that is believable and acceptable.
The holy grail for any brand is to appear on a shopping list instead of a generic product type - for example as ‘Fairy’ rather than ‘washing-up liquid’. In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with noise, the best chance a brand has of achieving this status is through a shelf-out rather than marketing-in approach.
“Shelf-out thinking ensures that you understand assets and sweat them”
Shelf-out thinking ensures that compelling brand assets are identified during the conception of the brand with cues created for the sole purpose of influencing purchase behaviour.
By understanding what your brand’s biggest assets are, you can decide how to ‘sweat’ these assets. For example, in order to change people’s perceptions that tomato ketchup is simply a lubricant for fast food, we developed a set of assets for Heinz based around the big idea that its ketchup is ‘Grown Not Made’.
This ‘brandheart’, the definition of the driving campaign idea, was then rolled out to packaging design, in-store promotions and even leveraged in above-the-line advertising, creating a truly integrated campaign driven from the shelf-out.
Branding will always by a Darwinian process that requires businesses to adapt their message to ensure they are continually relevant and persuasive.
A successful brand will tailor its in-store presence to reflect different seasons, events and shopper missions. By doing so it is able to ensure that it maximises the work done by its brand assets to drive consumers to repeated, ritualistic purchase.
Mark Artus is CEO at global branding agency 1HQ