Is branding all that matters?

I watched the first instalment of Jo Malone’s High Street Dreams on BBC1 where the retail entrepreneur mentored two food businesses and gave them the opportunity to pitch to major supermarket purchasing teams.

I had been looking forward to it but came away a little disappointed as the entire focus of the project in both cases was to get the brand and packaging right. Sure this is absolutely critical but when you’re starting out, as both were, the key thing is surely to drum up interest and some sales to convince anyone to take a chance.

Check it out on BBC iPlayer and let me know what you think. This link won’t last for long.

When developing a product, there has to be a need (a ready made market) or a strong perceived need for it, and there have to be some very clear benefits for why it will sell.

I just felt the programme glossed over some of the more important elements to creating momentum around a brand, and indeed the cultural and organizational aspects of moving a business from your own kitchen to supplying a high street operation like Waitrose or Asda.

And just to square the cirle, I went looking for Muddy Boots burgers in Waitrose on Saturday, but there was no sign, and I’m assuming that the programme was made some time ago. A massive promotional opportunity missed there by everyone involved.

It brings the topic of brand into sharper focus. GyroHSR, an international B2B agency, recently staged a well publicised event with the question of whether ”Brand or Demand’ is the objective of marketing at its heart. I think brand is important, but it is definately not all that matters.


3 responses to “Is branding all that matters?

  1. 100% agree Rene. Indeed I’d go further – it sold the supermarket deception that it is all about supplying a good product which people want.

    In reality supermarkets ask for a contribution to their marketing, proof that you have a promotional plan in place to drive awareness, encourage tasting and co-promote.

    I thought the staged happiness scenes were sick-making. If you are mid negotiation with a supermarket chain you react “Of course you want it, now let’s talk price” not with jumping for joy which puts all the negotiating power with the supermarket.

    This was a PR job for the supermarkets involved, trying to pretend that their shelves are full of nice little peoples’ product, not international combines hiding behind names like Aunt Bessies.

  2. As a TV programme they have to get the emotional ties in, otherwise people wouldn’t watch.

    But I thought how refreshing it was to hear them talk about the importance of getting the brand and packaging right.

    I felt they did do Market Research to test both the product and packaging, to the extent that this week’s milky product wasn’t ready.

    However as a Graphic Designer who is currently studying CIM Marketing perhaps I see it from a different angle!

  3. Thanks for your comments guys. I think its true that this is artificial and for TV, so ratings and the ‘journey’ are an inevitable focus.

    I agree this weeks second episode talked more about product, proposition, packaging and price (especially on the milky drink).

    It does continually amaze me how people take an idea so far without taking a market temperature check.

    And, when you consider how brands like Ella’s kitchen, Gro and others are formed, its normally by frustrated parents developing something they couldn’t find in the market. The nutriyum people were on to a loser from the start not having natural ingrediants in there – I have a two year old, so I know what my better half looks for in these products!

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