Monthly Archives: June 2015

Tips for building a great working relationship with your creative partner.

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The beginning of any working relationship is an exciting and somewhat anxious time. This is particularly true for food and beverage marketers as they begin working with a new branding/design/marketing firm or consultant…a new creative partner. Everyone, both clients and creative partners, want to do their best in achieving branding and marketing goals, and building successful brands. Here are some tips to help build great working relationships with your creative partners.

Tip 1: No Secrets.  Transparency is fundamental to a successful working relationship. Clients and creative partners will be working closely together, and for creatives to do their best work, the more they know about their clients’ products, services, and business the more their efforts will closely align with branding and marketing objectives. Even seemingly obscure, minor data can be very insightful during the creative process. Creative partners should always be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and clients should be confident in sharing any and all information that may be relevant to advancing mutual branding and marketing objectives.

Tip 2: Be Honest. Always be open and honest with your creative partner. Clear the air if there are any creative differences of opinion, and openly share the good and the bad. To develop a strong branding/marketing strategy and creative concepts, all background information about the brand/products should be shared. Any issues that may arise are always easiest to resolve early on in the process so that efforts can be focused on the important tasks.

Tip 3: Ask Questions – a second or third time if needed.  Never shy away from asking the same question more than once. The creative process, marketing speak, IT related items, project stages…all of these invariably generate questions from clients. To build a good working relationship, creative partners need to make sure clients understand the terms and steps that are part of the creative process. A good working relationship is built on asking questions and understanding each other.

Tip 4: Respect One Another. Respect is a two-way street and respectful, solid working relationships generate great creative efforts. The creative process and project timelines can produce stress, but it is important for everyone to remember why they formed the partnership in the first place and respect each others role in meeting the mutually defined objectives.

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How can you get a 7-fold increase in your brand value?

brandingMarketing professionals have been advising clients for decades to invest in brand positioning and identity to produce a greater ROI on all other marketing and promotional efforts. After a 10-year study, we now have quantifiable data to support that sage advice courtesy of WPP brand consultancies The Partners and Lambie-Nairn, in collaboration with Millward Brown and BrandZ. Using a 10-year period of brand valuation data and combining that with consumer opinions of the same brands for the same 10-year period, we can now quantify what we always suspected:  investing in brand positioning and identity produces markedly greater returns in brand value when compared to, or used in conjunction with strong advertising.

Here are the comparative results for the 10-year study period:

1. Compelling brand value proposition, a distinctively designed brand identity, and compelling advertising and marketing support:  168% increase in brand valuation

2. Compelling brand value proposition, a distinctively designed brand identity, and weak advertising and marketing support:  76% increase in brand valuation

3. Weak brand value proposition, a poorly designed brand identity, and compelling advertising and marketing support:  27% increase in brand valuation

4. Week brand value proposition, a poorly designed brand identity, and weak advertising and marketing support:  21% increase in brand valuation

For food and beverage brand owners and stakeholders, one of the most remarkable takeaways from this study effort is the degree to which branding drives brand value growth, even though most brands allocate the majority of their marketing budgets to advertising and promotional efforts. Without a clear commitment upfront to creating and establishing a brand, along with consistent brand messaging over time, the dollars spent on marketing and promotional support are far less effective. Investing in a brand strategy and identity before focusing on advertising and promotional support efforts can increase the ROI, ranging from 21% to 168%, in brand value over the long haul. With brand valuations ranging from millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, these percentage increases represent huge bottom line dollars.

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Food packaging. Let’s clean it up.

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Clean packaging/labels for food and beverage products is a hot topic. Consumers certainly have spoken about their desire for simplified ingredient lists and easy to read/comprehend food product packaging. The topic is also generating confusion not only among consumers, but also food and beverage product producers and marketers.

First, it’s a matter of definition. One issue that is complicating the clean label discussion is the fact that there is no regulatory definition of clean label, even though the food industry itself has put forth several options. The “unregulated” definition that is commonly understood by consumers may be the one that matters most to food marketers until regulatory agencies decide to take on the task. For consumers, clean labels are generally understood to mean food products formulated with ingredients that consumers have some familiarity with and that they view as “wholesome”. While this definition provides some guidance for food marketers, it is a somewhat slippery slope. A food brand has to consider its product’s target audience in determining what is “wholesome”. An unwholesome ingredient to one target audience may be perceived as wholesome or maybe even desirable to another target audience, depending on what the product expectations are for each target audience.

Consumers are not the only driving force. While consumers cannot be under-estimated in importance and influence in the clean label discussion, there are other forces driving the discussion. Increased globalization of food and beverage distribution has driven the need to clean up formulations and food labels. Products with uncomplicated ingredient lists are confronted with far less international regulatory hurdles as food producers expand their markets to capitalize on growing global food demands. Progress in food technology, while not necessarily a driver of the clean label trend, has certainly enabled it. Meeting consumer demand for convenient, healthy, great tasting, and safe food products has been advanced by emerging ingredient, processing, and packaging technologies. To stay competitive, food brands have had to evolve with the available technology.

What does this mean for food packaging? The clean label trend affects food and beverage packaging in several ways. First, obviously, is the need to revise the content, copy and visuals, of product packaging to reflect the changes in product formulations, ingredient lists, and nutrition facts. From a branding perspective, packaging design and configuration needs to reflect a clean/transparent approach visually. These are a subtle suggestions through typeface, uncluttered layout, and packaging materials such as front-of-pack windows or transparent packaging materials so that products are visible through the packaging. The role of packaging colors and textures should not be overlooked in their suggestive influence on the definition of wholesome. The clean label trend has generated a new vocabulary of marketing buzz words that have come to be understood by consumers and marketers alike as defining simplified, wholesome products, and this new vocabulary needs to be woven into marketing copy not only on product packaging/labels, but on all other marketing materials and media.

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