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Trade Routes: Brand Management—Consistency Breeds Success

By: Michael Long and Chris Czajkowski
Posted: June 5, 2007, from the June 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The consistent use of argan oil in Louhann products, from the company’s Anti-age Crème to Dry Oil for Hair and Body, reinforces the credibility of the line. This message defines the brand as being at the forefront of the innovative application of this ingredient’s story. Louhann also has contributed to a heightened awareness of the virtues of argan oil in Europe through a well-defined product message. In the U.S., press and direct marketing will increase the public’s awareness of the uses and benefits of argan oil while expanding the company’s profile.

In addition to a brand’s product point of difference, it is equally important to capitalize on what is referred to as a brand’s retail point of difference. To summarize, it is helpful to understand the areas of growth and retail voids within the target distribution. This facilitates a more rapid placement of a brand based on filling such a void.

Packaging, Market Positioning and Retail Execution

Packaging plays a large role in a brand’s complete success. Some would say it accounts for up to 70% of the equation. A brand has a short window to express to the consumer its raison d’être, and a brand has one chance to make a first impression. Packaging must immediately translate a concise snapshot of the brand’s heritage, concept and quality. The aesthetic must appeal to and be understood by the target consumer. It is equally important for the packaging to meet a target retailer’s established expectations.

Successful positioning is the consistent thread weaving through every element of a brand. It is the clear message permeating the brand, where its place in the world is instantly and consistently understood. An inconsistency between elements, such as price versus packaging or formulation versus packaging, can create a lack of clarity. Such inconsistencies may cause a retailer to opt out and launch another brand. A brand’s positioning should be constant at every level.

Identifying the appropriate retail distribution from the onset is critical. While it is not necessary to identify specific retailers early on, the targeted channel of distribution should be considered and understood, and all decisions in brand development must have this eventual retailer in mind. For example, a brand targeting a prestige New York retailer would have a completely different investment in product, packaging and marketing versus a brand targeting moderate department stores in outlying markets. The key is to understand a retailer’s expectation and aesthetic while developing a brand. It should be noted that even within the same tier of distribution, retailers may have differing views on which products are befitting for their clientele. Partnering with a compatible retailer to support the launch is a critical piece of the puzzle.