Brand owners spend their lives trying to increase the size and value of their brands. Of course they do, it’s business and what matters most in business is profit and loss (P&L). What can happen, though, when the P&L becomes the primary focus of any company providing goods or services, is that quality of output is compromised. And when the passion is transferred from the brand to the balance sheet, the brand can suffer.
Smart brand owners know that their business IS their brands and that, without them, there is no business. It’s a circle that cannot be broken: brand business; business brand. And that early passion for quality that brand-builders possess is an absolutely crucial factor in the long-term success of their business.
In an age when consumers are bombarded at every turning point with high-octane marketing messages, it’s almost inevitable that they will seek refuge in products, services and brands that are somehow simpler, friendlier and more personalised.
The current trend towards small local or specialist bakeries is also not surprising. There are consumers, even in hard times, who are willing to pay a little extra for real quality; they want the passion, they want the expertise, they want the real ingredients they don’t want the plastic bags and the additives they believe are in mass-manufactured products.
This passion for baking, for creating authentic and genuinely delicious breads, using traditional techniques and natural, wholesome ingredients, is extremely compelling, as is the provenance of the product. These attributes are tangible they will completely affect the way the consumer tastes the product and knowing all this ’good stuff’ does make the experience of the bread that much more satisfying. I have no doubt that the resurgence of the Hovis brand is, in large part, due to the reclamation of its heritage and traditional values.
Perception is a crucial component in the success of brands and products: what you believe influences what you experience. If a local baker tells you that mass-market bread contains enzymes that, because of a loophole in the law, don’t need to be declared on-pack, that will have an impact on the way you feel about the product. If he waxes lyrical about the locally sourced, traditionally milled flour, you’re already tasting the bread.
Word-of-mouth recommendation is by far the most powerful selling tool; consumers love to pass on their favourite secret ’finds’. However, on the flip side, they also love to talk about their less-than-favourable experiences. Small businesses thrive on word-of-mouth communication. Positive messages about their products play an invaluable role in their success and demonstrating care, enthusiasm and real, heartfelt passion for their craft is fundamental.
Brand owners would do well to remember that products and particularly food products are highly emotive. More and more, consumers care about what they put inside themselves. No-one wants to think about food being churned out of a grim factory on a grey industrial estate. If we imbue a passion for what we produce in all strands of communication, internal and external, then the P&L might just take care of itself.