Building the Pet Brand of Tomorrow
You may be wondering what the big deal is with branding, and why you should spend time and even money focusing on it, when you could be spending those precious resources on expanding your product or service. Simple answer, without a brand, you have no identity and therefore you aren’t memorable enough to your target customers.
However, just as there are no easy answers in business, the idea of branding is also a complex, highly idealized notion that when done right can make the difference between a runaway success versus a has-been that no one knows about or remembers.
Of course, no one wants to end up in the latter category, and that could be why you’re reading this article. It could also be that you are starting a pet business, or any kind of business, and want to ensure that your endeavor has the best possible chance for succeeding.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
The first and most important thing to do when branding your business is to figure out your 6 Marketing Senses:
- Sense of Self aka The WHY. This has to do with your personal story. Why did you start this particular business? Why do you do what you do, what does it mean to you, what does it stand for? If your business is selling all natural dog treats, then perhaps in your branding message you might want to touch on the idea of not just selling dog treats, but providing a healthy lifestyle that both dogs and their pet parents can enjoy and support for many years to come. And perhaps this is important to you because your dog has experienced food poisoning or a dog food recall and you want to ensure that your dog and all other dogs get the best nutrition possible. In that case, your business would stand for health, and everyone wants to be healthy. Discover your why by learning more here.
- Sense of Sight aka The WHO. Consumers are very visual, so this is about whom you are for and whom you are NOT for. Take for example, a pet company that became a huge success with their product called “Doggles.” Just by looking at the word, one can easily infer that this is a product for dogs and is meant to act the way goggles do for humans. Therefore, this is for dogs that enjoy swimming and possibly wouldn’t mind wearing protective eye gear; and not for dogs that don’t like either one or both of those activities. The usefulness and the fun-like aspect of dogs wearing goggles, which also provided multiple unique photo opportunities that consumers eagerly shared on social media, attributed to the success of the product from a branding standpoint by giving the product a strong hook, purpose, and audience.
- Sense of Hearing aka The WHAT. As a business owner, it’s your job to figure out what your consumers want and how much they are to pay for it. For example, many pet owners have switched over to a raw food diet for their dogs. If you go to a pet store, most will have a refrigerator/freezer that holds various fresh and frozen meats. The prices for these products are generally higher than if you buy the same kind of meat at a grocery store. However, the companies that make and package these products know that consumers will pay more for them because they are believed to be for good for dogs, and consumers want nothing more than to ensure the health and happiness of their fur babies. These companies heard the consumers’ needs and found a way to supply their demand.
- Sense of Touch aka The WHERE. In order to buy your product or service, your customers need to be able to find you and quite literally get their hands on it. Therefore, when branding yourself, it’s important to think not just vertically, but horizontally, as well. For example, if you are a groomer, don’t just advertise on other grooming or grooming supply site, but reach out to pet clothing, pet food, pet toy and other pet sites. Chances are if pet parents are spending money on pet toys and clothes, they will probably be just as eager to spend money on grooming. The same goes for any other business. When you consider your product or service, determine what other products and services your customers will likely be using and cross-market with them for a mutual benefit.
- Sense of Taste aka The HOW (pre-sale). Of course, most people will not actually taste your product, especially if it is meant for pets, but it’s important to think about it in the Costco sense. If you’ve ever gone to a Costco or Sam’s Club, then you know how many taste tests they offer. Why? Because as soon as you try something, you instantly know if you like it and your first reaction is to reach for it and put it in your cart. If you have a brick and mortar store, you can absolutely emulate that selling technique. On the other hand, if you are web based, as many companies are these days, then you need to find another way to capture a buyer’s attention to inspire them to place whatever you are selling in their cart. Whether it’s a money-back guarantee, a free trial, or something else that can get your brand in the hands of your customer.
- Sense of Smell aka The HOW (post-sale). The sense of smell is one of most powerful senses for humans and animals alike. Rarely can someone smell something delicious and then not want to at least try it. Whether it’s food, or the figurative whiff of something interesting, both humans and animals can hardly walk away from a potential jackpot. So whether you’re selling a tasty treat or an irresistible service, make sure you let your consumers know that this is not something they can walk away from.
While you are considering your marketing senses, go a step further and distill the ideas down to just 3 – 6 words that describe your brand and why you are doing what you’re doing. These will become your brand pillars. For the all-natural dog treats example, the words could be: dogs, food, health, and nutrition. These brand pillars can then be used in all marketing and branding copy, as well as, in social media posts, to define the brand and attract consumers. Once you know your brand pillars, it’s time to implement the final step in branding your business, and that is the simple idea of consistency. Being consistent in your fonts, colors and icons will help consumers recognize your brand and feel a sense of belonging, both with your brand and with other consumers who also enjoy your products or services.
In the end, if you really think about it, the purpose of branding becomes more than just about money – it’s actually about building a community. Whether you’re a mom and pop shop in a small town, or a world-wide company, your employees, influencers, and consumers, including pets, become part of your community that is held together not by fences or gates, but by the pillars of your brand, that stand firmly on the foundation of your marketing senses.
Here are a few resources that can help you along the way of building your next pet brand!
Free Download – Packaging Design Whitepaper
Resources – Evaluating your business idea