Product branding is an essential marketing tool if you want to attract and amass habitual customers, which we’ll safely assume you do. It sets expectations, differentiates your brand from competitors and builds emotional connections.
Here are three strategies to consider if you’re looking to improve your product branding and attract loyal customers:
1. Meet and Exceed Consumer Expectations
Consumers gravitate toward specific brands for quality, reliability and personality. Consistent product branding sets expectations. It sets a tone for what consumers should anticipate each time they interact with and invest in your brand.
In other words, each experience a customer has with your brand, design, logo and messaging is an opportunity to positively reinforce your brand and consumer expectations.
Think about your favorite brands, and their beliefs, commitments and personalities will also come to mind. Perhaps this means technology and innovation, environmental dedication, or the place where Coke tastes so good. This happens because these brands have successfully earned your trust through branding.
The important thing here is to ensure that each time consumers engage with your brand you consistently meet or surpass their expectations. Inconsistent branding, or lack of branding altogether, causes confusion, miscommunication and customer disappointment.
From company culture to packaging to ads, there are numerous touchpoints where customers will interact with your brand and form an opinion. If shoppers don’t know what to expect or can’t find your product within eight seconds or less, they’re going to choose something else.
Exceeding expectations is a pleasant surprise for customers and a surefire way to rise above competitors. Strong brand development and product branding are building blocks and strategies that, when done well, boost satisfaction and attract consumers.
2. Consistent Messaging and Design
Cohesive branding encourages consumer recognition, which can be communicated through messaging and design. Messaging and design should sync with your brand’s personality or archetype, and translate across products since consumers are more likely to buy new products from a familiar brand rather than switch to a new brand. Whether it’s a logo, color scheme or package design, consumers must recognize and associate it with you.
As Simon Preece wrote in Forbes, “Eye-tracking studies show that consumers read on average only seven words in an entire shopping trip, buying instinctively by color, shape and familiarity of location.”
For this reason alone, you must make it simple for shoppers to identify your brand so they choose you. Since they won’t spend much time looking, a quick connection is critical, and clear and consistent branding makes it easy to trace back to you.
Accomplishing consistent messaging can be simple, like when Land O’Lakes introduced European Style butter in 2015. If you haven’t seen it, the box is black with thin lettering, gold outlines and ~premium~ messaging, so it’s much different from the traditional Land O’Lakes packaging.
To maintain a thread of familiarity, Land O’Lakes included its classic “Indian maiden” icon on the new product. She was painted on the butter box in 1928 and updated minimally over the years, so shoppers young and old recognize her and associate her with the brand.
At this point, shoppers instinctively rely on their own experiences with Land O’Lakes to trust the newer product.
Moral of the story: If you have any desire to build an emotional connection between consumers and your brand, you must begin with consistent branding.
3. Build and Strengthen Consumer Emotion
When product branding is working, products aside (presumably they’re good too), customers form emotional connections with brands. Without branding, consumers aren’t going to notice you, understand what you believe or connect with you.
Emotional development is vital for your brand because it’s largely responsible for winning over new customers and retaining the old. When consumers are emotionally connected, they’re more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers, and emotion is what keeps them coming back for more.
If this is starting to feel like a romantic reality show, there’s a reason for that:
“When people are asked to describe a brand, they tend to use words that sound a lot like ‘love,’ said Bill Winchester, LSB president and chief creative officer. “Emotional sounding words. Feeling words. Brands are largely emotional and are felt.”
Favorite brands are usually associated with positive emotions, which means you’ll likely continue to purchase a brand if it’s meaningful to you. If you had a favorite ice cream brand as a kid that reminds you of carefree days at the beach, you’ll continue to buy it and reminisce about the good times.
Okay, so most of us have positive feelings about ice cream, but what happens if the product itself doesn’t evoke much emotion? Hopefully, the brand does. It’s difficult to feel emotion for a fleece jacket, but perhaps the brand itself inspires and motivates the consumer based on its beliefs and convictions.
For the most part, shoppers know ahead of time which products and brands they’re going to buy when they go to the store. That’s why it’s imperative to maintain these connections and continue to make them feel good and confident about their purchases.
Positive interactions build familiarity and trust, which are crucial because “customers who feel a genuine emotional connection with a particular brand generate disproportionate value for that brand,” said Philip Otley in Digital Pulse.
Emotional connections result in habitual purchases, brand re-enforcement, minimal consumer doubt and decreased new product consumer risk. These are all components of gaining and retaining customers.
Product Branding Creates Familiar Customers
Product branding is important and powerful, but it doesn’t mean rebranding for the heck of it will solve your problems. Consumers are creatures of comfort and already apprehensive about trying new brands. For that reason, your branding must be genuine, convincing and conspicuous.
If you mess with what they know and recognize, they’ll push back and let you know. They might go so far as to say on social channels that the update looks like a steaming pile of…chocolate. However, when branding is done right, your brand will become familiar and emotion-driven, and the choice between you and the other guy will be a no-brainer.