How to Win the Ongoing Popularity Contest of Consumer Branding?
You’ve taken a big, important step. You’ve decided it’s time to reposition your brand. But how? Well, the answer to that question is right here in this booklet.
In our previous publication, we talked about laying the strategic foundation for long-lasting and commercial brand-building. Now, it’s time to walk the talk. To create a strong brand and experience that reflects your context and values while having a commercial impact.
Here, we’ll give five hands-on approaches to repositioning and activating your brand. Next, we’ll give you the three ingredients we apply to every project. And, of course, examples. Loads of examples. Because learning from others is often the fastest way forward.
Right, let’s get started.
What You Need to Know
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Five approaches to active your brand
- Change the Look
- Change the Conversation
- Change the Portfolio
- Change the Experience
- Change the Context
Three Common Traits for All Approaches
Going from strategy to design.
- Feeling First, Rational Second
- Tell Me a Good Story, and I’ll Buy It.
- Make Your (Re)Brand Pop Right Into the Heart of the Consumer
Q&A with Client Director Emilie Aagreen on how to bring your rebrand to life.
“Choose a direction and stick with it. Branding is a marathon, not a sprint.”Christian Halsted, Executive Strategy Director & Founding Partner at EVÉRLAND
5 Approaches to
Activate Your Brand
To build a strong brand, you need to be coherent. Yet, branding consumer goods is also about the need to remain agile and continuously evolve. Many brands, however, only realise the need to evolve too late in the game. As a result, a recurring client challenge goes something like this: “We have lost the connection to our consumers, and somehow, our brand now seems obsolete.”
Before throwing money at isolated campaigns to gain some momentary attention, you might want to revisit your position in the market altogether. Building on the 4C analysis from the last book, you should by now have a clear understanding of your target consumers’ needs (relevance), competitive assets and unfair advantage (distinction) and company strengths (offset and credibility).
Now, it is time to turn your insights into an actual brand strategy and define the initiatives to help it flourish in the market. In the following pages, we’ll share a few tricks on how to cement your position by changing your brand’s…
1. Change the Look
It might sound like old wine in new bottles, but redesigning a product is an effective approach to cement your new position. Consumers know something has changed, and it gives your brand a fresh visual appeal that helps it stand out from the competition and connect with people.
How might you convey the position visually? What is the idea that will help you express your purpose? Then go through your five design elements – logo, font, colours, illustration and the fifth element – and make sure your identity is based on your strategic foundation. Balance brand legacy with ambi- tions and look thoroughly at your context to understand what it takes to stand and connect to your target audience.
Designing just for design’s sake won’t cut it, though. When brands try to reach new customers by redesigning the packaging, it is important that the new design communicates the brand’s new position and illustrates why the new packaging isn’t simply window-dressing.
A fresh idea, strong concept and strategically grounded design signals change to consumers, sparks curiosity and cements your desired position. So remember to give them what you promise.
TOMS GULD BARRE: HISTORY REPÉATS ITSELF. AND THE TASTE OF NOSTALGIA IS SWEET.
Ask any Dane, and they’ll know the Toms Guld Barre (golden bars of chocolate). So to call it a Danish icon is almost an understatement. Born in 1932, the iconic chocolate bar in gold packaging is on every candy shelf and is synonymous with great taste and good times. A chocolate gold standard, so to speak. Fast forward 90 years, and Toms is ready to give its classic chocolate a new lease on life. We helped develop a new design to revitalise the brand legacy and make it contemporary.
What makes Guld Barre unique is its heritage, shape and taste. To underline these assets, Toms and EVÉRLAND introduced a new proud logotype with hints of the original design. We amplified the taste appeal with vibrant colours and created an efficient design system so consumers can easily find their favourite flavour. The stripes reflect the original chocolate bar shape and the satisfying sound of the chocolate breaking apart.
“The new design speaks to all ages and personalities”, comments Sabine Wahl, Nordic Marketing Manager at Toms. “It’s true to the Toms Guld Barre brand and timeless but still fresh and contemporary. It truly reflects our brand essence.”
2. Change the Conversation
The words we use have great power over how we perceive something. Written communication can shape perceptions and alter ambitions – and move hearts and minds. So, choose your words carefully. The product can be the same, even the information, but the communication can give it connotations of exclusivity, democracy or anarchy, respectively. As long as it fits your desired brand position. Change the conversation in your favour through your tone of voice and the key messages you coherently communicate.
The same is true for storytelling. All great brands have a story to tell. You can utilise this story and tell a million stories that all support the core narrative. This enforces the brand identity and verifies the position you want to take. By telling stories, you make your product more relevant to your target audience by sparking curiosity or being the brave or cheeky one on the product shelf. And if you manage to speak the same language as your customers, you come off as one of them. One they can trust and one they want to engage with.
Still, it’s wise to remember that actions speak louder than words. You must deliver on what you say and ensure your communication matches your initiatives. This goes for greenwashing, product benefits and branding in general. Don’t say it if you can’t back it up.
OLALA!: A DISH IN ITS OWN RIGHT
Lab coats, petri dishes and machine tubes. Typically, alternative protein doesn’t give off the delicious and taste-focused connotations needed for mainstream popularity. A different path was crucial to drive consumer preference and accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food option. So, when we worked with French start-up OLALA!, we took the opportunity to change the conversation. We turned OLALA! into a food experience driven by curiosity and taste.
French founders François Blum and Simon Ferniot know taste is key to success. They’ve developed the next generation of delicious plant-based seafood from ingredients of algae origin. But to make it popular beyond vegans and vegetarians, a different approach was needed to brand alternative protein. We wanted the taste ambition expressed with every brand touchpoint, even when casually mentioning it to your next-door neighbour (OLALA!).
When nearly all competitors focus on rationality and sustainability, we focus on the emotional aspects of having a great meal. Desire and taste make for a much more robust platform. So, that’s why all communication builds on great taste and the feeling of eating good seafood. Most evident in the name which reflects a well-known feeling–“ Oh là là”–indicating a pleasant surprise.
Visually, we looked to the bistro. The place where foodies tend to meet and mingle. It’s a sensory and social space where conversation flows back and forth, like seafood and chardonnay. We got inspired by the incredible vibe of French bistros when building OLALA!’s design universe. It’s premium yet subtle. It’s active yet understated. And its full-on food appeal puts the meal centre stage. The off-white resembles the tablecloth, the illustrations are golden, up-lifted and outlined, and the logotype reminds you that what you put on your plate is surprisingly healthy, tasty and good for the environment.
3. Change the Portfolio
Consumers who buy into your brand will leave the store with your product because they bought into your design and its story. The two are intertwined. So, you must look into what you’re selling (story) and how your products deliver on this promise (design).
Going over your product portfolio is the strategic process of improv- ing a product range to meet or redefine consumer needs. Product development drives categories forward and changes how we shop, consume, and interact.
When looking into the opportunities in your product portfolio, be aware of the inside-out perspective. Improving functional benefits here and there is often not enough.
Rather than letting production capabilities dictate your product innovation, it is worth looking into occasions and demand spaces to guide your thinking. When done right, a refined product portfolio can lead your innovation, cement your new position and drive actual demand.
Managing your product portfolio is about defining values that work across your product series and characterise your brand. Each product (line) should target different segments and serve different needs. This makes it easier for consumers to navigate your portfolio. And it creates synergy across your product offerings and brands while minimising internal cannibalism. Something seen all too often.
SCHULSTAD: A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Some brands let their production capabilities define their innovations. Others are guided more by their brand promise. At Schulstad, new product development has been a constant for over 140 years. One of the key ingredients behind their success and a way to remain a lunchbox stable.
However, with a growing range of products, Schulstad also needed structure to direct the innovations and portfolio going forward. We helped Schulstad define three product series with three distinct value propositions based on the revised position. Besides several classic products, “Levebrød” is the healthier option, “Det gode” is the more artisanal bread experience, and “Signaturbrød” is the more premium offering made in collaboration with some of Denmark’s best chefs and artisans. A range exclusively invented to help reconfirm the position as the Danish pioneers of bread.
The growing range of 50+ products has now been systematised, creating synergy on the store shelves and guiding product innovations in the future. Furthermore, each series avoids cannibalising each other and clearly communicates its value from brand to consumer – in line with Schulstad’s vision.
4. Change the Experience
Which feelings and associations come to mind when consumers think about your brand? Understanding and controlling the link between brand and experience can do wonders to steer people’s perception of you in the desired direction.
The vacuum when you open the packaging. The smell at every shelf in the flagship store. The way the clerk is dressed in a white shirt with an untreated canvas apron. These are some of the multiple ways to shape the whole brand experience, and ultimately, how consumers perceive your brand. It’s about how to activate all the senses in ways that tell the right story.
And of course, it goes without saying, that your product should always match the experience. Otherwise, your efforts are wasted. Consumers will feel cheated, and it will damage their perception of your brand.
The experience is also about your daily encounter with the brand. Where is it placed, and what shape, colour and medium is used? Add the tonality and the visual identity, and you have a brand experience of maybe 1-2 seconds. But make it an experience. And repeat it.
GORM’S: A HOMEMADE DINING EXPERIENCE
Gorm’s greatly influenced how Danes think about pizza. Back in 2008, they twirled a fast food thing into a homemade experience. Suddenly, pizza was a delicious experience with quality ingredients. A mouth-watering mix of Danish craftsmanship and Italian ingenuity served on organic sourdough with crispy crust; Gorm’s signature move. 15 years later, the pizza revolution has become mainstream in Denmark, and it’s time for Gorm’s to reinvent itself once again.
Gorm’s has always been about Italian food. Much more than pizzas. First off, you have its renowned social restaurants. Yet, they expanded the concept to pizza bars and pop-up pizza joints and also added many homemade ready-to-cook products.
Whether at restaurants, in-stores or online, the Gorm’s experience had to be consistently mouth-watering and a good time. Together, we defined the strategic platform to keep the story straight across touchpoints, and then, we designed the visual identity that would communicate it the right way: homemade food in a local cosy atmosphere.
Every single Gorm’s restaurant is inspired by the surrounding archi- tecture, and designed to have a good time. It’s your local restaurant where everybody feels at home. In contrast, the pizza bars and pop-up pizza joints are more of a grab-and-go pizza experience. It all comes down to how much time you have. Whatever the occasion, you can always count on Gorms for a good time and a great experience.
5. Change the Context
Where do consumers meet your brand? There is a big difference between showing up at Burning Man or Berliner Philharmoniker. The former is letting loose, and the latter is dressing up. Both spark very different associations that people, over time, will tie to your brand.
Placing your brand in a new context helps cement your new position in the market. It builds and strength- ens emotional ties between your desired target audience and your brand. It enables you to show your brand relevance (again) to consumers. Yes, at first, it is scary to place your brand in a new setting, but it is essential for rewriting people’s associations with your brand. And to pull it off, you need to be persistent. Immerse your brand into this new context, trust the process and reap the benefits.
There are numerous ways to go about this. From celebrity endorsements, brand collabo- rations, and genre crossovers to carefully orchestrating a whole new global scene for your brand to act on. These are more tactical approach that needs to be guided by strategic decision for optimal brand-building.
LA VIE: STANDING OUT TO DRIVE IN NEW FANS
French meat alternative start-up La Vie is on a mission to unite vegans and meat lovers. Its award-winning lardon and bacon is the tool and a brand universe that celebrates life. Because to make a change, it is best to do it while smiling and being cheerful.
To win over consumers, La Vie needs to get out there. In stores, social media and, of course, at fairs where people gather to try out the latest innovations in plant-based foods. We worked with the French company on a stand and food truck that drags people into the La Vie brand universe, triggers them to taste the trail-blazing products and join the movement.
But this is not your typical trade stand or food truck; it is a La Vie street food restaurant. An integrated kitchen spreads a mouth-watering smell while the bright and happy colours seduce the eyes, clearly standing out from the neighbouring booths. At multiple fairs, the stand have drawn atten- tion and gotten people talking before, during and after. Now that is how you change the context to stand out.
Three Common Traits For
All Five Brand Activations
No matter the approach you choose, there are three lessons to keep in mind.
First, it doesn’t have to be either-or. Often, a strong reposition is a mix of all five approaches, where you match them depending on the challenge you’re facing. And you’ll quickly learn that the five different tools go hand in hand.
Second, each approach needs to be built around real insights and based on your strategy. We can’t emphasise this enough. It’s the strategic foundation that ensures your approach actually turns out good and delivers great results, creatively and commercially, for brand and business.
Third, and perhaps the most important lesson here: this is not a quick fix. In order to stay relevant, consumer brands need to evolve constantly. Repositioning shouldn’t be a reactive exercise but an ongoing endeavour. Proactive brand management is about not allowing products to become obsolete. It’s the art of looking to general societal movements and tangential categories to remain one step ahead of the competition in addressing consumers’ constantly changing needs.
Next up is our essential guide to popularity. It’s how we make any brand resonate with consumers’ hearts. Make them tick, and our brand stick, so to speak. Let’s dive further in.
“Sell the sizzle, not the steak”Universal truth
Research shows that on average 50% of our purchase decisions are based on emotion, and in some categories, emotions have a staggering 90% say in what we end up purchasing. Recently, Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman said that a whopping 95% of our purchase decision-making takes place subconsciously.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
Today, many psychological scientists assume that emotions are the dominant driver of most meaningful decisions in life. One of them, Daniel Kahneman, a heavyweight psychologist in his field, says we use two primary modes of thinking to process information and make decisions.
In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he argues that System 1 is intuitive, instant, unconscious, automatic, and emotional. System 2 is slow, rational, conscious, reflective, reasoning, and deliberate.
Deliberate thought is more reliable, but we rarely stop, reflect, and make slow decisions, because, in many events, our responses are automatic. This is especially true when shopping.
On top of this, making a decision while feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired (or God-forbid a combination) emotion wins 100% of the time. Yup, a solid 100%.
And with the corona pandemic, we’ve also seen how fear influences our shopping behaviour. A study by Harvard Business Review concluded that we prefer familiar brands in times of uncertainty. In a pandemic, we buy what we know because we want to regain control and a feeling of certainty and security.
“Design without a concept might be pretty. But it's also pretty pointless.”Carl Larsson, Executive Creative Director & Partner at EVÉRLAND
A Good Story,
And I Will
If there is no concept, no narrative supporting the design, it really is just decoration. It’s hard to argue why it looks the way it does. It’s even harder to build upon and develop further on. And, more importantly, it’s hard to make it appealing to a broader audience just because it’s pretty.
A MEANS TO AN END, NOT AN END IN ITSELF
Making good design is never easy. Making it last and be loved for decades is even harder. It’s important to find a conceptual frame that activates the strategy, especially in a fast-paced online world. The decision to choose a product and nudge people in your direction has never been easier. Yet, at the same time, there has never been more noise. So, if you can create a bigger idea (concept) in relation to your product, there is a story for people to tell, share, like, and explore. Especially packaging design can build a bridge between selling the product and creating a stronger brand that stands out.
LISTEN TO THE CLICHES BUT NEVER MIMIC
The foundation for a strong brand platform, including brand essence, brand personality and reason to believe, can never be visualised simply by decoration; it needs an emotionally engaging idea. It sounds cliché, but then again, clichés exist for a reason.
If you start with a concept, you find a creative engine that will give a unique take on multiple solutions. Keep in mind, when everyone finds the same references, we end up playing the imitation game, and we go around in circles. Do not fear being different, where you both visually and verbally tell another story. Existing products need a counterpart where you build a stronger connection to the consumer with an ambition to tell a story which strengthens the brand. We see stronger concepts in fine art and illustrations but less so in commercial design. And that’s a pity.
Letting your solution grow within a bigger idea helps you find ways to create truly novel solutions. It enables you to unbox experiences by guiding the consumers towards a deeper understanding of your brand’s essence. A strong concept makes it easier to approach the consumer. Now all you need is the right message at the right time. The concept in itself is a toolbox with a wide range of solutions, where a design without a conceptual idea becomes repetition and a feeble marketing push, at best.
So, don’t judge a book by its cover. Judge it on the story, too. To make people care about your product, you need to tell a story, and you do that by having a conceptual approach to your design. Emotional selling points become a stronger driver with a relevant narrative, and it’s much easier to defend a concept than a design without any real reasoning behind it.
Right Into the
Heart Of the Consumer
From 5,000 daily brand messages, only 12 make a lasting impression on us. How do you beat the other 4,999 brands?
It shows that every brand is fighting fiercely to come out on top. Most are merely adding to the noise.
Over the years, working with hundreds of brands, we have found a simple yet highly effective formula to catch and engage the right consumers. We call it Clarify & Amplify.
It sounds simple, but it’s not. As humans and, therefore, brands, we want to tell the world about all the fantastic things we do. But in the process, we fool ourselves into believing that other people have the time and energy to absorb everything we throw at them when reality is quite the opposite.
CLARITY IN YOUR COMMUNICATION
Sharpening your brand message is about helping people to make easy decisions. Make it easier to navigate the shelves, locate your products, and get your message across. In the end, it’s all about selling products, of course.
Doing so requires some effort. You need to do two things: clarify and amplify. Let’s briefly touch upon how we do it at EVÉRLAND.
First, we clarify. It involves a lot of stakeholders, and it often involves killing a lot of darlings. We start by mapping all your brand messages. What do you want people to know about you? And more importantly, what do consumers expect from your brand? Once an analysis is in place, we create a hierarchy. What is the essential brand message of all the messages?
The goal is to find the one that sets you apart from the competition. The one authentic message that you can claim because you are you. The message that makes you stand out and appeals to your target audience.
Now, you’re ready to amplify your message.
LOUD AND CLEAR
Next, we amplify. Now, we turn strategic decisions into creative execution.
You need to utilise all five elements in a brand identity: logo, colours, font, pictures, plus the fifth element. Make them sing in harmony and be emotionally engaging. And using your 4C analysis, you should have a good understanding of what that visually translates to.
“The fifth element?” you might wonder. The fifth element is often a subconscious graphic element, making it all come together and recognisable even without the right context. Think of how these examples work even without the brand name, the Amazon smile, the Coca-Cola curve, Nike’s swoosh or Arla’s clouds.
WORTH YOUR WHILE
It’s no easy task. It takes time to craft a design that fits the brand essence and ticks all the boxes necessary to stand out. And when it comes to design, there is no right answer. There is no formula. How does an insight or company value translate into colours? What is the fitting font for your brand promise? However, with your 4C analysis, you’re well on your way to finding the right commercial answer.
When done right, the results are outstanding. Unlike other design tasks, where taste becomes subjective, we measure sales numbers and brand recognition growth. When it works, sales increase, market share goes up, and your appeal widens. If not, well, it’s back to the drawing board.
A common phrase we often use is “Don’t design for designers”. Forget your personal preferences. You are already biased because of your work with design. The trick is to strike a chord with the broad population, not a small niche segment.
The design needs to help sell products (lots of them) and create preference long-term, all while being attractive to a wide and diverse audience. To achieve that, you must tap into today’s consumers and ensure your design is contemporary – and will stay that way. After all, when it comes to products, it is one big popularity contest.
Three Answers On
Howto Bring Your
(Re)Brand to Life
Emilie Aagreen, Client Director at EVÉRLAND, answers three questions on activating your (re)brand, keeping it alive and kicking.
1. How Do You Make the Rebrand Come Alive?
In my experience, a rebrand thrives on trust and team effort. First, you’ve got to trust your gut, trust the strategic process you’ve been through when defining and designing your rebrand. You’ve done all this hard work, and now you’ve set the course for the future and growth. Stick to it.
It comes up every time with our clients. When it is time to launch, the butterflies start swirling, and the whole process becomes very “real”. It’s the exciting part where you step out into the real world and unleash your rebrand. It involves some nerves, but as said, if you’ve been through the process, you should be equally excited and a bit impatient to get to work and live out the rebrand.
Team effort is the other half of a successful rebrand. It’s about bringing everyone on board, engaging them and making them feel part of this new brand. Help them embrace the rebrand and see how it will help them do their job even better. The rebrand is something for the entire organisation.
Provide the internal marketing and sales department with the tools and guidelines for implementing the rebrand. Make it easy to use because it is the only way a rebrand will come alive and prosper throughout the organisation. Sure, you need some guidelines, but not to hinder creativity and adoption. Rather, it should encourage creativity and adoption because it feels right.
One of our clients, Toms, held a series of initiatives to celebrate the launch of the redesigned chocolate bar, Guld Barre. Besides being festive, the events united the organisation and ensured everyone got an understanding of the new design and how they could participate in bringing the rebrand to life.
I encourage you to also think about internal campaigns, onboarding processes and other initiatives to motivate the organisation. Also, consider stakeholders like salespeople and distributors. How will they feel about your new brand position, and how can you reassure them that this is a move in the right direction?
2. How Do You Ensure Your Initiatives Stays On-Brand?
Two things: your brand playbook and your brand guardian. The brand playbook is the sum of every important aspect of your brand and how you make it come alive. We create a brand playbook for our clients to equip them with all the necessary information and elements to keep every part of the rebrand on-brand. You could call the brand playbook a “brand bible”.
The brand playbook also works as a document that reminds everyone of what you agreed upon during the rebranding phase. So when questions arise, you always have this document to refer to. This makes decision-making faster and cheaper because you’ll always know if something will be on-brand or what it would take to make it on-brand.
Next is having a designated brand guardian. For some companies, a brand manager usually knows the ins and outs of the brand playbook and checks every brand initiative with the playbook.
As the organisation grows and expands into new markets, it can be required to set up a brand guardian team to monitor new designs going out into the market. That is what we’ve helped Carlsberg do for nearly two decades. Our Brand Guardian team checks all their designs and ensures they’re according to the brand playbook and live up to the Carlsberg brand standard.
A lack of trust often ends up with everyone trying to take control and putting their mark on the projects. This results in design by a committee which is often a result of an inside- out perspective. A dangerous path.
Part of the solution is of course communication combined with reasonable arguments and a strong rationale. Stakeholders need to be informed about choices and the reasoning behind them.
Building on your 4C analysis, you will have a strong strategic foundation for your decisions. And it will help make it more clear for everyone involved, why certain brand decisions are made. But yes, rebranding also requires some intuition and leadership, and that is again where the trust part comes in.
3. How to Align External and Internal Partners Going Forward?
Common ground is the keyword here. It’s about ensuring that everybody speaks the same language and brand perspective. This, of course, requires ongoing collaboration, and it is why we prefer to work with companies rather than for companies because the result is so much better. Secondly, the brand playbook is a handy strategic tool for maintaining a shared understanding of the brand and its messaging.
The alignment is typically most needed when working on an advertising campaign. Brand-building ambitions and sales activation must be balanced when KPIs are determined and creative briefs are written. And then, the question arises as to what the messaging should be and whether it’s on-brand or not or commercially viable. In such a case, it is about finding the right balance. The balance between staying true to the brand, getting a relevant message across and catching consumers’ attention
Here, the brand playbook and brand activation ensure this alignment. This fairly simple document puts everybody on the same page and creates the foundation for the creative process moving forward. It makes everyone’s job easier and enables one to do better. A job that delivers growth strengthens the brand and nurtures creativity because every single initiative is now on-brand.
Finally, your strategic position, brand message, creative concept and design are in place. Your product has become your brand, and your brand has become your product. Time to reap the rewards. Simplifying and amplifying your message will make your product POP! instore, on billboards, in boardrooms, and on the kitchen table in every single household. You’ve now gone from ordinary and plain to extraordinary and popular.
Now, you need to get the word out and bring in the customers. On-board the rest of the organisation to reap the full commercial potential of your brand and make sure it lives across all touchpoints. Time to go live.
In Case of a
If you’re curious whether a rebrand is right for you, we’re here to help you. Please reach out to us, and we’ll set up a meeting to discuss your opportunities.
And, as always, you can see our work and learn about our approach to consumer branding at our website, www.everland.dk.