Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

What is a Brand,
Anyway?

Diana Jarrar is the founder of MAGICdATES, the first better-for-you snack company to make dates a hero ingredient. She’s obsessed with cooking and food science and created a healthier snack you’ll actually crave!

Ever heard of a logo being referred to as “branding”? A brand’s logo is just the tip of the iceberg; meaning, it’s the outward visual representation of the vision, values, culture, and personality of a brand. These are the key ingredients for a successful brand but where do you start?

Start with Research

Don’t create an image, brainstorm a new idea, or present a strategy before doing some investigating. Would a good journalist write an article and make conclusions about a subject without doing research and interviewing subjects? No. And you shouldn’t create a brand without some digging. When creating a brand, you want to create a customer-first approach. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What problem am I solving?
  2. Who has this problem?
  3. How will I solve it in a unique way?

Let’s take these questions one at-a-time:

What problem am I solving?

For the CPG space specifically, think about the gaps in the market that you can fill. For example, in 2016 with MAGICdATES, I saw that there was a lack of better-for-you snack options that didn’t have added sugar yet tasted great. I also noticed that tons of brands were using dates as a filler ingredient or as a binder and not respecting the essence of the fruit and the value it offered. After this initial observation you make, you can start researching competitors and testing your hypothesis.

Who has this problem?

OK, great, so now you know there’s a gap in the market. But is this really a gap and under-served segment or is there simply no demand and no customers? Well, you’ll have to ask the customers! Even before launching your brand, find a handful of people you can interview about their particular pain points. Ask open-ended questions with the ultimate goal of getting to the “Why?”. Are they really buying that healthier cookie because the ingredients are better? Maybe. But the answer is probably deeper with an emotional component. I interviewed an acquaintance once who said she wants to find snacks for her kids’ after-school activities because she wants to make sure “they’re taken care of”. This mom was concerned about taking good care of her kids. That’s her “why”.

How will I solve this problem in a unique way?

This is where you begin to create the product, the message, and the design identity. Whole books have been written about this point alone but the key takeaway is: you begin this step only after you’ve done the research on the problem and your customers because they will inform and guide your creation process. You will have your customer in-mind when crafting your vision, creating your product, and penning your communication strategy.

Inspiration comes from anywhere

By following this process methodically, you create two essential elements of a brand: authenticity and trust. By telling your customers what you will do and consistently deliver on that promise, you are being authentic, and therefore, trustworthy. And trust is what creates a bond between your brand and your customers and creates a relationship with loyalty. I was thinking about this concept when I was hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park this past summer. I was using folding hiking sticks to keep me balanced against the current and I wondered what would happen if the sticks suddenly collapsed. Then, I remembered the research I had done about this brand of hiking sticks, the reviews I had read, and the history of the company. I put a lot of trust into the brand. Not because of their pretty logo and fun website, but because they created a product that solved my problem and have consistently delivered on their promise of creating reliable outdoor gear.

Comment below to share what’s inspiring you!

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