Stratonauts: Branding Development Paths

Related to my previous blog post about the process of getting to a brand, I realised there are several paths to the end goal. Traditionally, a small business will develop its brand from a product portfolio. The local farmer has found a market for its cider production and wants to upscale, so needs a brand. Or the coffee shop around the corner really needs a new layer of paint and decides to rebrand. They know what their product is – all they need is the brand – the name, messaging etc.

To me, if a product is the person, the brand is the personality. When you go out and meet someone, you might remember their huge nose or weird facing eyebrows (product) or the fact that they had a nice perfume on, but the only way you will really interact with or like that person is through his personality. Larger brands, such as Virgin, have started with that personality. Virgin has taken this quite literally and has their CEO as the face and personalisation of their brand. Quirky, smart, fun, approachable and customer focused. Really, Virgin can launch any product, as long as it fits within their brand values, people will understand why this product is Virgin.

So really, there are two paths to branding: One is the product first approach; the second is the brand first approach. Both approaches start with a spark. Some idea or trend that you might have picked up or a feeling that you have. This might inform the category, or even more in detail the product that you want to create.

Product first approach

E.g.: I am a farmer and every year I have tons of apples that I am not able to sell wholesale to stores such as Woolies or Coles. I decide to produce my own cider, work with a local cider taster and have a friend that owns a bottler. I am a connoisseur of apples and am able to pick the right apples and mix quantities of different kinds. My product seems to be really popular and demand is growing. I need a brand and a name to sell under.

Brand proposition: all natural cider made out of local apples for discerning drinkers, specially handpicked for you.

Brand first approach

E.g.: More and more people are using their phone to do work on the train. I will create ‘the iPad’, easier than a computer to carry around, but larger than a phone to work on. Brand proposition from for example Apple: Apple brand is about the creativity of the products, the personality of the leadership, and the spirit of the brand in space, made place. Our product will therefore have to have a slick design, ease of use, be robust and have longevity. The product needs to be the first of its kind, show forward thinking and fit in with our other products. Enter the iPad.

A brand first approach is definitely stronger since it is easier to align with emotional benefits rather than functional benefits of your product. I’d like to touch on that distinction in a next blog.

One Comment

  1. Awesome article Kim. The ‘brand first’ concept is a really interesting one. It reminded me on the “hessian brand’ article i posted a while pack

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