We’re back! In our previous RangeMe column on consumer packaged goods (CPG) Marketing, we gave a top-level view of understanding your audience, holistic branding, and the types of advertising strategies you need to consider in order to influence merchandise buyers in your niche (click here to read the column).

In this column, we’re going to dig a little deeper into all the unique variables of branding as we explore how to develop a brand that breaks through the clutter and tells your unique story in a way that resonates with both merchandise buyers and consumers— so it’s your product they can’t stop thinking about!

Let’s dive in!

The power of branding

You probably know what we’re going to say… that to succeed in today’s market, you have to create a strong brand presence. Whether you’re a product supplier, business owner, entrepreneur, or product innovator, effective branding can make all the difference in capturing the attention of merchandise buyers and their consumers.

Branding is not just about having a pretty logo or a catchy slogan. It is about creating an emotional connection with your target audience and conveying the value proposition of your product. And you have to do all of that while still standing out from your competitors!

Once you have your brand messaging and visuals locked down, you still need to find the right balance in how you use that brand for different audiences and different platforms between your B2B marketing, consumer direct advertising, and social media presence.

Merchandise buyers are constantly seeking products that meet the needs and preferences of their customers. They look for high-quality offerings that are competitively priced and have compelling branding. By investing in strategic and authentic branding, you can enhance your product’s appeal, increase loyalty, and drive sales.

Challenges of brand development

Creating a successful brand is not without its challenges – both internal and external. The market is saturated with competitive products, all vying for attention, so it’s important to understand the bumps along the road.

Here are just a few of the challenges you may need to overcome when developing your brand:

  • Internal:
    • Pressure to invest limited funds elsewhere.
    • Personal bias toward visual treatments and colors that are not strategic or unique.
    • Conflicting opinions on visual aesthetic amount stakeholders.
    • Favoring quick-to-market over correct-to-market.
  • External:
    • Saturated market.
    • Creating compelling visuals that stand out.
    • Finding the balance between unique, credible, and relevant within the vertical.
    • Translating branding and character to each of the unique channels that each have a different user experience (staying on brand while also staying appropriate).

To break through, you need a brand strategy that is built on a strong (and authentic) foundation and tells a compelling story. And we know you have an interesting story to tell!

While it may seem overwhelming at first, the best first step is to define your unique brand story and the problems you want to solve.

How to define your brand story

At the heart of every successful brand is a powerful brand story— it’s the core of who you are and how you got here. Research shows that if a consumer loves a brand story, they are 55% more likely to buy in the future! The same is true for merchandise buyers; they want to feel good about carrying your product in their store.

Your brand story is a big part of what sets you apart from your competitors and helps consumers connect with your product on a deeper level. It should communicate your brand’s mission, vision, and values, as well as the unique selling points that make you, you.

To define your brand story, consider the following tips:

  1. Start with your core: Your brand core is what sits at the center of our business. It is the sum of your purpose, vision, values, and promise. It inspires everything you do. It is the reason your brand exists and what drives you to deliver value to your audience every day.
  1. Evaluate your vision: What do you see for the future of your brand? What problems do you want to solve? A strong brand story will organically tell buyers and consumers how your product will change their lives. 
  1. Think about your mission: Why do you exist? It’s about more than making money, it’s about solving a problem. Share your passion and your solution and relate it to how it will provide value to someone’s life.
  1. How will you deliver on your purpose?: Think through how you will deliver on your purpose through a brand promise and let your story tell others about the difference your product will make in their life (as well as why merchandise buyers want to stock your product)!
  1. How will you uphold your values?:  Lastly, consider what you fundamentally believe in. Let those values shine in your brand story and be the reason a buyer believes in your product.

Defining your brand story is so crucial because it has the power to transform your brand to places you might never expect. In fact, some studies have shown a 30% increase in conversions by simply creating a story around a brand.

How to build a brand character

To make your brand memorable and relatable, it’s important to develop a strong brand character that resonates with your audience and can be used consistently to aid in brand recall. Brand character is the unique personality and tone of voice that defines your brand. It influences how your brand communicates with its audience and brings the brand to life. 

Here are a few tips to build a strong brand character:

  1. Define your brand’s personality: Is your brand playful, serious, or sophisticated? Is it maternal or professional? Identify the key traits that align with your product or services and your target audience’s needs and integrate them into your brand’s character. After you know your traits, figure out what that means in application. How will you convey these traits in communication to merchandise buyers vs to end consumers?
  1. Be authentic: Authenticity is crucial in today’s market. Be genuine in your character trait selection and avoid trying to be something you’re not. Consumers appreciate transparency and honesty. In fact, 82% of consumers want products that align with their own values. Remaining authentic in your branding will lead to more loyal relationships.
  1. Be flexible: Remember that not all traits need equal emphasis in every communication, depending on the platform and audience more weight may be given to one than another but the net takeaway should convey the overall character.

How to build brand messaging

Once you have your story and character solidified, it’s time to bring the brand to life by crafting key messages that convey your brand story in your unique voice and character. Clear, compelling, and consistent brand messaging is essential for effectively communicating your brand’s value proposition (and will directly drive the results you’ve been working so hard to achieve!)

One study found that 68% of businesses said that brand and messaging consistency contributed to revenue growth of 10% or more. That’s why your messaging should be concise, consistent, and resonate with the pain points of your target audience or merchandise buyers if that’s who the message is being crafted to attract.

Follow these tips to craft impactful brand messaging:

  1. Identify key messages: Determine the key benefits and unique selling points of your product. Develop messaging that clearly communicates these points and highlights what sets you apart from competitors. This should be value-forward and speaks directly to your “why.”
  1. Use language that speaks to your audience: We’ve all heard the phrase “meet people where they are.” This couldn’t be more true with brand messaging! Tailor your messaging to the language and tone that resonates with your target audience. Speak their language and address their pain points directly in a way that not only informs but sparks engagement.
  1. Test and refine: Continuously test and refine your messaging to ensure it effectively communicates your brand’s value proposition. Keep track of buyer feedback during meetings and through digital communications. Which messages pique their interest and which do they gloss over? Keep refining until they can’t possibly say no. Nothing makes a buyer feel heard quite like messaging that directly solves their pain points!

How to develop your visual identity

Did you know it only takes about 7 seconds for a person to form an opinion of your brand? And only about 50 milliseconds to form an opinion of your website?! That means you have to make sure the first impression you give allows merchandise buyers to truly see what your brand has to offer.

A strong visual brand identity is essential for creating a lasting impression. Visual branding encompasses your logo, color palette, typography, iconography, photography attributes, and overall design aesthetic and structure.

Here are the key elements to consider when crafting your visual identity:

  1. Logo design: Your logo is the cornerstone of your brand. It should be visually appealing, easily recognizable, easy to read, flexible, and reflective of your brand’s personality.
  1. Color psychology: Brand color psychology is about more than just associating a brand with its signature color. It’s about the feelings and emotions these colors inspire in us. These emotions play a major role in how consumers (and merchandise buyers) behave. While the effect that colors have on our emotions differs from person to person based on gender, cultural context, personal experience, and neurological variances, there are some general guidelines that can be used to select key colors in your pallet. Using colors consistently in all communications will strengthen brand recognition, create impact and make emotional connections with our customers.
  1. Typography: According to the American Marketing Association, typography is one of the most powerful design tools at your disposal because “most people intuit attitude, emotion, and meaning from the ‘image’ of the words they are looking at without even realizing it.” That’s why it’s so important to select fonts that complement your brand’s personality and are legible across various mediums. Consistency in typography creates a cohesive visual identity.
  1. Imagery: Visual content plays a significant role in capturing attention and conveying your brand’s story. Select images, illustrations, or graphics that align with your brand’s aesthetic, the emotional goals, and resonate with merchandise buyers. Consistency in the style and tone of imagery helps create a cohesive visual experience across different marketing or sales channels.

By carefully considering each of these user experience elements and ensuring their consistency, you can create a visual brand identity that effectively communicates your brand’s personality and leaves a memorable impression on your audience.

Remember, your visual identity should align with your brand story, character, and messaging to create a cohesive and engaging brand experience.

Now, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) topic… social media!

How to leverage social media to promote your brand

Social media has become a powerful tool for building and telling brand stories. It offers a unique platform to engage with your target audience, showcase your brand’s personality, offer social proof to users, and differentiates you from competitors.

Consider the following tips for leveraging social media to promote your brand:

  1. Choose the right platforms: Identify the social media platforms that align with your target audience. Focus your efforts on the platforms where your ideal customers are most active. Consider the demographics of those who use your product.
  1. Engage and interact: Social media marketing is not about broadcasting messages. It’s about fostering two-way communication. Engage with your audience, respond to comments, and create a sense of community. This will add a deeper layer of authenticity and trust while also collecting insights into what your customers want and need. 
  1. Share compelling content: Create content that is valuable, entertaining, or informative for your audience as well as for merchandise buyers. Use a mix of text, images, videos, and user-generated content (UGC) to keep your social media presence engaging. Consider partnering with well-known influencers who can introduce your product to their online community and extend your chances of being seen by a merchandise buyer. 
  1. Build social proof: Merchandise buyers may find you on RangeMe, but they are also definitely going to check you out on social media to see how you engage with consumers and what those consumers think of your product(in fact, RangeMe enables brands to share their social media feeds on their profile). If consumers love you online, buyers will feel more confident stocking your product in their stores. 

How to measure the success of your branding

Measuring the success of your branding efforts is essential to track your progress and make data-driven decisions. Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide insights into the effectiveness of your branding strategies but keep in mind that branding success, or lack of success, takes time to grow and be measured.

It’s a long game that will take months, even years – not days or weeks. This requires staying consistent with your branding and not changing strategies on a whim. Make tweaks with new learnings but be patient as the world gets to know a consistent version of your brand.

Consider the following tips for measuring your branding efforts:

  1. Track brand awareness: Monitor metrics such as website traffic, social media followers, search volume, SEO rankings, and brand name mentions to gauge the level of brand awareness you’re generating. For merchandise buyers specifically, measure the number of leads, their level of awareness of your brand, and what they know about your brand story. 
  1. Track engagement metrics: Monitor social media engagement, sales engagement, RangeMe landing page traffic, as well as email open and response rates from potential buyers. 
  1. Analyze buyer feedback: Pay attention to merchandise buyer feedback and sentiment analysis to understand how your brand is perceived.
  1. Social listening and sentiment monitoring: Utilize social listening tools to monitor conversations around your brand. This allows you to identify trends, address concerns, and make improvements where necessary. Consider using platforms like Sprout Social that can combine your social publishing, management, and reporting into one convenient platform.
  1. Market differentiation: Conduct regular market research and monitor competitors to measure your brand’s distinctiveness and growth in comparison. Compare metrics like shares, brand mentions, and customer feedback to ensure your brand stands out. 

Unleash the power of your brand and drive business success

Branding is a powerful tool that can help your product break through the clutter and tell a unique and compelling story. By defining your brand story, building brand character, crafting clear messaging, creating a strong visual identity, leveraging social media, and measuring your branding efforts, you can create a brand that attracts merchandise buyers and drives success.

Be sure to stay tuned for Volume 3 in our series where we’ll offer tips to help you optimize your product packaging and design to better appeal to your customer base. Until next time!

About fishbat

fishbat is a CPG marketing agency specializing in improving visibility, impact, and bottom line for our partners. We have worked with a wide variety of CPG brands across different product categories, from food and beverage to home goods and beyond, each with its own unique set of goals and challenges.

If you’re looking for expert assistance in developing your brand strategy and executing effective CPG marketing campaigns, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our digital marketing agency has a team of professionals ready to help you navigate the branding landscape and achieve your business goals. Together, we can create a brand that truly stands out in the market and tells your unique story.

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