As a middle aged man who's often in Lycra, I've learned the hard way how important it is to stretch. In both running and branding, a good stretch can unleash the next level of performance, but do it wrong and you'll regret it.
If you work for a large CPG company it's highly likely your brand is also middle aged, say 20-50 years old. Since its glory days the world has become more complex, the big drivers of growth may be stalling, and you're left with a big question – what's the next source of growth? It's also highly likely that you can see fast growth in adjacent categories and you'd like to get some of that.
So for example, let's imagine you're managing a breakfast cereal brand. You could be looking at an adjacent category like cereal bars, and wondering the best way to take your brand into that sector. At Huxly we believe strongly in Flow. Our Flow model says that brands work most effectively when the consumer experience flows seamlessly. From their first sight of the pack design to the final lipsmacking bite, you should deliver a consistent brand experience. To do this you need to ensure that the emotional, functional, sensorial and social aspects of the brand all deliver coherent messages.
Let's start with functional aspects of the brand. Your cereal brand might have great health characteristics, full of fibre and added vitamins. This is a great start point to success in snacking, if you can build a coherent brand around it.
Things might become more complex when you consider the emotional profile of the brand. If your brand is linked to the fresh, optimistic feelings associated with the start of a day it may struggle for relevance in indulgent occasions later in the day. So as you consider your brand architecture, how can you link the functional strengths of your brand to a slightly different emotional territory?
Don't forget that people don't develop opinions alone. It's really important to take social factors into account. How will your consumer feel eating you product in front of other people? What will it say about them? What social norms will they be following or breaking?
Finally – and arguably most importantly – your current products will set a clear sensorial expectation in the mind of your consumer. Are they sweet and childish? Or do consumers sacrifice taste for the health benefits involved? If your new cereal bar product does something different to the existing products in your brand, you need to set that expectation clearly through the design of the new product. If you get this wrong then your branding will set an expectation that isn't fulfilled and consumers will be disappointed at their first bite.
All of this becomes potentially more complex when you begin creating design and comms ideas. You'll be looking for inspiration from the latest pack and advertising trends, and trying to make sense of these new codes while being consistent with an older brand is a significant creative challenge.
This may have made the challenge look impossible. Be assured – it isn't. But it does require a decent research program to understand the wider world of your consumer, and the minutiae of the human experience of your brand, to develop something that's congruent and instantly appealing. This should inspire a brand architecture that draws on your brand strengths to create a clear and appealing message for your consumers. This is exactly the sort of marketing challenge we've designed Huxly for. If you want to know more about our approach to brand stretch get in touch!
Joe Goyder, 29th June, 2018