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September 1, 2017

Consider Your Brand’s Opacity to Develop A Winning Brand Strategy | Part One

In an earlier post I noted the crucial role of brand strategy in brand building and described it as “the means by which
we associate a brand with a compelling promise of value in the minds of customers” and shape customer demand.

This definition poses two important questions:

What are the tools in the brand strategy toolbox?
Are these tools equally valuable for brands regardless of the context in which brand building must take place?

While an exhaustive review of this subject is not possible in a single post, my intention is to highlight the important tools in this toolbox and their potential utility for brand building within two different business-to-consumer arenas:

Packaged Goods Brands
Services Brands

Packaged Goods Brands Are Opaque

Brand strategy for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands has historically focused on creating, delivering and communicating the compelling value desired by customers through the so-called marketing mix: product, pricing, place
and communication strategies.

These strategies associate a brand with its compelling promise of value in the minds of customers and drive the purchase and consumption of the products that are at the heart of their attraction to these brands. A key consideration in formulating brand strategy for CPG brands continues to be their opaque nature. They are opaque because the manufacturing process of CPG brands is hidden from customers and removed from their consumption process by a long supply chain–customers cannot easily perceive the difference in efficacy between one brand and another during the purchase and consumption process. Universal advances in manufacturing and product formulation during the past ten years have all but ensured the commoditization of many CPG brands at the product level because product performance differences between competing brands are often difficult for consumers to detect. That’s why product innovation continues to receive such a high priority in leading CPG companies such as P&G.

So how do customers perceive the difference?

It is largely through the brand’s communication–the voice of the brand–that customers can perceive these differences.
That is why brand managers in the CPG industry must develop such a thorough knowledge of branding. It is because
of their expertise that these marketers can ensure customers can hear the distinguishing claims of their brands and
are able to perceive them during the purchase and consumption process.