The Value of Branding Your Business
One of the steps we take when making over a website and helping it achieve higher sales, subscriptions and conversions is to look at the branding and the brand values.
“Brand” is a word bandied about by marketing types, designers and business owners but “brand” is not a “thing” but an emotion. It is what your product or service means to your customer, the emotional connection they have to your business.
Let me be clear, a “brand” is not a logo, a set of colours and a slogan, it’s not an advertising campaign and it’s not a mascot. It’s the position your business takes in the market place and what that means to your end users.
The Effect of Selling on Price
If you sell on price then that is your core branding quality. However, if you sell on service or quality, then you make either of those your core branding quality. Brands are a lot like people, similar looking people can have different entirely different personalities. Those different personalities attract different people, and the same with brands.
Are you a coke or a Pepsi person? Are you a BMW or Audi driver? Do you buy Nike or Reebok? Those brands are all different and distinct and if you are a “fan” then you know why they mean what they do to you. They speak to you, to something inside you, something you identify with and think “that product or service has qualities that I have or aspire to have”. This may not even be an overt thing, you may not even know or acknowledge these traits or qualities, but they are there deep in our subconscious.
What Supermarket is Your Business?
We quite often talk to our customers regarding the branding and positioning of the UK supermarkets. EVERYONE knows what supermarket they prefer to shop in, whether they are a Tesco or Sainsbury’s fan, or prefer Lidl and Aldi. Do they buy on price, convenience or quality? And EVERYONE we speak to understands when we talk about aspiring to be Waitrose. Waitrose is THE supermarket that people aspire to regularly shop at, it’s a quality brand that has a reputation for quality and not low prices.
Everything they do is about establishing a clear and distinct gap between their brand and all the other supermarkets, – it’s NOT competing on price. Price is going to be a factor, they have to be aware of the whole of the market, but if you go into Waitrose you are not looking to save money, you are looking for a wide range or diverse and quality items.
Here is an example: We have a Waitrose near our office, we also have an Aldi, and on occasion I have shopped at both. However, the other day as I walked to my car to go get some lunch I just couldn’t face going to Aldi, the smell of cardboard boxes, the jumble sale of food, household and personal goods just didn’t appeal. However, when I thought of Waitrose, it was different: the deli smell, less waiting time (if any) at the tills and a wider array of choice for healthy snacking. Even though parking and negotiating the traffic at Waitrose is a little more problematic as it is next to a train station it suited my optimistic mood. Also, I really fancied some nice ham from their deli and so I was off to Waitrose.
Popped Out For Popcorn
It was there that I was confronted by a wide range of snacking options to accompany my choice of ham and I selected some popcorn. Not just ANY popcorn but Heston Blumenthal’s Salted Caramel Popcorn, a recipe created especially for the supermarket. A marriage of brands and a perfect example of Waitrose’s aspirational stance. Heston Blumenthal has one of the most desired restaurants, the legendary “Fat Duck” at Bray in Berkshire.
His is a truly top quality brand and by offering an entire range of “own brand” food by Heston, Waitrose have marked their entire line of own brand food as an aspirational brand. This is in stark contrast to the Tesco “Value” range which competes on price with the more established brands. This is just one of the ways Waitrose distances itself from other high street supermarkets.
The following day this distance was highlighted…
During our preparations for family movie afternoon I wanted some popcorn, I think I was probably trying to recreate the bag of Heston’s salty caramel tastiness from the day before. But where we live is a little too far to drive to Waitrose for a bag of popcorn so we purchased a bag of Butterkist Toffee popcorn from the local Lidl.
It was only on finding the last dregs of Heston’s tasty treat that I realised the massive price difference and the value of the Heston brand for Waitrose.
Heston’s Salted Caramel Popcorn 35g = £0.80
Butterkist’s Toffee Popcorn 200g = £1.00
The Butterkist bag was 5.7 times bigger and yet cost just 20p more but the price per gram for the Butterkist product was 4X more than Heston’s
- Heston = 2p per gram
- Butterkist = 0.5p per gram
This means for the same product Waitrose can make 4 times the profit that the cheaper brand.
Ah, but the taste test…
We did a rough taste test, bearing in mind Heston’s morsels were a day stale in my work bag, but even so the blind taste test on the family showed a preference of 3 to 4 for Heston’s. There was more coating on Heston’s which probably accounted for the preference, but was there 4X the coating? I don’t think so. Was the taste worth 4X the Butterkist experience? In all honesty, probably not, they tasted very similar to me, Heston’s edging it because it was a little sweeter but on the whole it was a comparable experience.
The difference was not 4X the experience, I would say that the Heston bag was nice and one I may repeat but not one I would exclusively prefer. It would be a treat and one that I would relish, eating lots of sweet popcorn isn’t good for you anyway!
Brand Gives You More Than Just Increased Profit
But from this you can see that the brand allows you to charge 4X for what amounts to a very similar product, the only real difference being the packaging and branding. I would think that Heston has made quite a difference to the Waitrose own brand line, sales are up from brand recognition of the Heston Bluemthal name, and the ingredients used can be marked way up due to the aspirational connotations of Heston’s brand.
It matches entirely with the customers of Waitrose, and thus fits well. I would suggest that if you are looking to grow your business you look hard at your own “brand”, how are you positioned? Cheap as chips? or luxury and quality? How do your customers perceive your business? What can you do to change that? Introduce a higher priced line? If you do that what are you going to do to mark it out as a more premium offering?
These are all challenges for branding, but the one thing we do know, compete solely on price and you are a commoditised product, totally at the whim of the market. If someone comes in and is prepared to buy your customers with a cheaper price than you can match then you have a tough and stark choice on your hands.
Building a brand is also building value into your business, start today by looking at your website through the eyes of your customers, is it a quality Waitrose experience or a stack ’em high Lidl and Aldi experience?
What would it take to allow you to charge 4X more for the same product?
Is it time to change?
Tell us what you think below – where do you think your business stands in the market place? Leave a message below and join the discussion.