I recently attended a seminar presented by Martin Lindstrom, world renowned branding and retail expert, on Branding and the Digital Marketing Revolution. What struck me the most was this question: Is your brand smashable?

It’s not a well-known fact, but the Coke bottle was designed in such a way that even if the bottle breaks, the logo would remain intact. In addition to that, the design of a Coke bottle and even the sound of Coke pouring into a glass has been patented. This together with the unmistakable Coca Cola red is what makes the brand recognisable as individual parts and not just as one product. Hence, the brand is “smashable”. Other great examples from the franchising world include McDonald’s with the golden arches, Ronald McDonald and the distinct packaging of their fries. KFC has the colonel in his black string tie and their famous bucket of chicken.

Designing your brand is one of the most important things you will do as an entrepreneur and franchisor. Yet many people neglect this area. They don’t want to spend money on design and importantly, brand and trademark registrations. A recognisable brand is a key factor in consumer recognition and also a key benefit to buy into a franchise.

Once you have a recognisable brand, the next step is to develop a consistent and effective marketing message. Lindstrom strongly believes that it’s essential to create an emotional connection with the brand. Consumers are mostly irrational and emotional in their purchases and can be swayed easily. An emotional connection can be created by touch (hand shake or arm touch from a sales person) and also through involving the senses. For example, if you are marketing food it’s essential to involve as many of the senses as possible. Cold drinks sell more if there is more “sweat” on the bottle or bubbles in the drink! Food brands that don’t use these visual cues are missing out on an opportunity to reach the consumer in a powerful way.

I asked Martin about marketing food brands in a cluttered market and his response was that it’s best to use humour. This creates that emotional connection and may act as a differentiator. Locally, Nando’s is the best example of a brand that has achieved success by using humour. The other by-product of this approach is that it starts conversations about the brand, which also entrenches the brand in the mind of the consumer.
Consumers are also aspirational, so creating some exclusivity or club membership can drive more people to experience the brand. A unique experience can do the same, so think about the way customers experience the business when they walk into the store. Do they feel welcome? Do they feel special? Training front end staff on the ideal customer experience can go a long way to differentiate the brand. This is how Starbucks built their empire, they focused more money on training to establish the brand culture and created a whole coffee language and sub-culture in the process. This led to positive word-of-mouth, which is perhaps the most important marketing tool. In this cluttered media world, consumers tend to trust their peers more than the media.

It’s also important for brands to be ethical and socially responsible. An important question to ask is: would you advertise the product in this way to your own children?

A brand is an asset and marketing is an investment, not an expense. Don’t cut corners on this critical element of your business and franchise value proposition.
Franchising Plus provides retail and merchandising training and our consulting services include development of brand and marketing strategies. For more information on Martin Lindstrom, go to www.martinlindstrom.com