Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

How to Build an
Amazing CPG Brand

Ron Alvarado is the founder and CEO of FICKS Beverage Co, a company on a mission to bring a better-for-you bar to the world with its hard seltzers flavored with real fruit juice, and all natural cocktail mixers. Their products can be found at retailers such as Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods.

People buy brands, not products. Don’t get me wrong, every successful CPG company needs to be built on the foundation of quality products, but branding is the crucial piece that takes CPG products from the kitchen to the aisle, and eventually into your customer’s hearts.
Here are ways to make sure your brand is reflecting the quality of your products and creating authentic connections with customers.

FOCUS ON PEOPLE

Next time you’re on NIKE’s website, quickly scroll down one of their product pages. Did you notice the comparison of foot sole materials vs ADIDAS, 15% decrease in weight vs the typical track shoe, or details of their new manufacturing process? Hell no! You saw Alex Morgan and Lebron James balling it up!

As CPG founders we nerd out on things like production processes or decreases in sugar over competitors, but the brand needs to show customers how these characteristics will improve their lives. Focus on the people side of your products, and it’ll make your branding more emotional and effective. We’ve done this at FICKS by reminding ourselves of all the ways we enjoy using our products, and making sure that’s reflected in our branding.

GET TO YOUR BRAND CORE

Packaging. Your website landing page. An Instagram post. Each of these points often touches customers for a fraction of a second. With such limited time, you don’t have time to give your whole Shark Tank pitch!

Whittle down to the single most important reason people should grab you off the shelf, and build you brand around that. For our FICKS Hard Seltzer products, this was our use of real fruit to flavor our hard seltzers – so the entire brand has molded around the taste of our fruit and stories of our fruit farmers. Getting to this core first makes subsequent brand decisions smoother because they’ll feel right or wrong based on the brand core.

TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

If there’s a better way to understand what part of your brand resonates most with people, I haven’t found it.

During the pandemic in 2020, FICKS did monthly ZOOMs with volunteers from our email list to learn about them as people, as well as what drove them to keep buying FICKS. The exercise reminded us that even in quarantine, brand building can’t exist in a vacuum. I learn something new about our brand every time I talk to our customers, and it can reveal bright spots or missed opportunities better than any staff brainstorm session.

Take note of contrasts between what you think your brand is about, and what these customers say it’s about. In every case they’re right because that’s what the market perceives your brand to be. Maybe your customers are telling you the true core of your brand. Maybe you’ve nailed the core but aren’t communicating that well in your branding. Getting out and talking to your customers is the fastest way to get this honest and enlightening feedback.

CHECK IN ON YOUR BRAND

CPG categories change every year – basically every shelf reset! It’s important you check in on your brand regularly to see if it’s still effective in new contexts like similar offerings from competitors, or slower than desired growth.

What made your brand stand out last year doesn’t guarantee it will this year, so you need to check in on your packaging, social and other brand assets regularly to make sure they’re reflecting how amazing your products are. This doesn’t mean abandoning the core of your brand, just make sure you’re still communicating it in the clearest way.

You’ve got an awesome product. Build an awesome brand around it to match!

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