Your branding needs to be an extension of your product. It must be memorable and install trust and confidence. It should stand out on a store shelf, be recognizable from a distance and be able to sell itself even in the absence of good copy.

Today’s podcast focus is about your brand, the importance of your brand and how your brand message needs to resonate across every aspect of your sales funnel. To help me with this conversation, I brought on a branding expert. 

Your brand is your product’s identity. It represents everything you stand for, your mission and your commitment to excellence. That includes your promise and commitment to only use the best ingredients and to make sure that every product consistently delivers your high standards. Your goal as a brand is to get people to know, like and trust you. Your brand is what jumps off the shelf and catches the customer’s eye. Your branding needs to extend beyond the four corners of your package.

Now, while this sounds obvious, many brands have a difficult time with this. Have you ever played the game where you tell someone a story and then they tell someone a story and so on? By the time that story comes back around to you, it’s virtually unrecognizable. This is the challenge that literally every brand faces. Your brand’s story needs to resonate with the same authenticity and passion as originally told by the founder. Your brand message needs to resonate with every consumer that buys it. 

Before that can happen, however, you need to make sure that everyone on your sales team, including your external sales team, for example, your brokers, distributors, etc, are all in lockstep when it comes to talking about your brand and the importance of your brand. Doing this effectively will give you a substantial and significant competitive advantage. On today’s podcast, we talk about why this is important and how you can leverage the strength of your brand and your brand’s story, to drive sustainable sales at retail.

After all, that’s what all retailers really want, more customers in their store and a reasonable profit in their category. The real strength of your brand is your ability to leverage that unique consumer that buys your product to go in and shop a specific retailer, including an online retailer. This all begins with how you represent your brand on your package and wherever your future and current customers are.

Download the show notes below

Click here to learn more about Interact Boulder

BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #127

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #127

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.

LETS ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES AND GET STARTED!

Dan: Welcome. Today's podcast focus is about your brand, the importance of your brand and how your brand message needs to resonate across every aspect of your sales funnel. To help me with this conversation, I brought on a branding expert.

Your brand is your product's identity. It represents everything you stand for, your mission and your commitment to excellence. That includes your promise and commitment to only use the best ingredients and to make sure that every product consistently delivers your high standards. Your goal as a brand, is to get people to know, like and trust you. Your brand is what jumps off the shelf and catches the customer's eye. Your branding needs to extend beyond the four corners of your package.

Now, while this sounds obvious, many brands have a difficult time with this. Have you ever played the game where you tell someone a story and then they tell someone a story and so on? By the time that story comes back around to you, it's virtually unrecognizable. This is the challenge that literally every brand faces. Your brand's story needs to resonate with the same authenticity and passion as originally told by the founder. Your brand message needs to resonate with every consumer that buys it.

Before that can happen however, you need to make sure that everyone on your sales team, including your external sales team, for example, your brokers, distributors etc, are all in lockstep when it comes to talking about your brand and the importance of your brand. Doing this effectively will give you a substantial and significant competitive advantage. On today's podcast, we talk about why this is important and how you can leverage the strength of your brand and your brand's story, to drive sustainable sales at retail.

After all, that's what all retailers really want, more customers in their store and a reasonable profit in their category. The real strength of your brand is your ability to leverage that unique consumer that buys your product to go in and shop a specific retailer, including an online retailer. This all begins with how you represent your brand on your package and wherever your future and current customers are..

Before I go any further, I want to share a listener review with you. This one comes from Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru. He was on podcast 32 and podcast 124. He said, "Dan and I talk about what retailers and shoppers really want, how to get your brand on the shelf, market changes, industry trends, small brands and the future of the CPG industry. Always a great time and discussion with Dan, one of the smartest, most intuitive natural food leaders in the industry. Thanks for having me on." Thanks Phil, I really appreciate it. I look forward to our next conversation.

If you want me to share your review, leave a review on iTunes, send me an email or post a comment about the podcast on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Did you notice the updated podcast logo? Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your feedback. I also want to remind you that this podcast is about you and it's for you.

At the end of every episode, I always include one free downloadable guide with a quick to digest strategy that you can instantly adopt and make your own, one that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. Remember, the goal here is to get your products on more retailer shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. Now, here's today's guest, Fred Hart of Interact Boulder.

Fred, thank you for joining me today. Can you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to Interact Boulder.

Fred: Great question, happy to answer. Interact Boulder is an 18 person branding agency in Boulder, Colorado. We have two things that make us unique. One is an obsession with the food and beverage, so that means we attend 14 food and beverage trade shows a year, we're fortunate to speak at different conferences and events, and with you here today, so it's an honor. We travel around the entire country and the world meeting with incredible individuals, a part of the food and beverage community. That obsession also makes the agency a bit different. We self-associate with the food and beverage world, more so than we do the advertising, branding, or marketing world.

That means that we're really having full comprehensive conversations with all of our clients about all of the touch points of the brand, not just design. And what that allows us to do is create brands that create consequence. So how I got into this was, as a designer, honestly, I have a large affinity towards a design. I fell in love with it via basketball when I was young. I was designing sneakers, sending things to Adidas. Long story short, I went to college, studied graphic design, landed in the bay area, worked for a number of really great branding agencies and then moved to Boulder for years ago. I met my business partner, Blake Mitchell and we've been growing our company since, so a little bit about us.

Dan: Great. I appreciate it. I want to thank you again for coming on. So back up a little bit. What do you speak of, at the different conferences? What are the topics that you cover and what do you find people really want to listen to or what do they want to ... what resonates most with your audience?

Fred: We're fortunate to be asked to speak most often times about building brands, within the function of design. What's the most fulfilling part for me is design and creativity is something that all people are born with, just not continually exercised. And so we all have our favorite things in our lives, whether that's a piece of furniture, a phone, a car, a picture and hopefully our brands if we're entrepreneurs, very few entrepreneurs know how to go about creating brands in terms of design.

So what we do is we educate folks on best practices, our philosophy on brand building and just what a difference it can make in terms of this grant scenario of your brand is a simple equation. It's your promise to someone and then your ability to follow through on that promise and said another terms, it is the presentation of your brand essentially judging a book by its cover. What I see on shelf tells me what to expect, and then the product inside. The product inside is the thing that you absolutely have to have as a part of the equation. Now, if I have really poor branding or packaging, but I have a phenomenal product inside, a consumer can get past that hurdle of date is a big one, have low expectations, try it and then finally fall in love.

It's this notion of under promise over deliver. The opposite though is the fastest way to kill a brand where you have an amazing presentation in a really horrible product. That's the fastest way to kill something because you get quick trial but no repeat purchase. But what we would argue, the best case scenario is amazing presentation where the brand is looking insane and communicating all of the right things both verbally and then most importantly visually. And then when I try the product, it's just as good if not even better. And that's how fast brands grow.

Some of the conferences we've recently spoken that where the Food for Kids Summit in Chicago, specifically about the kid's brand industry. We were just at the PHA, Partnership for a Healthier America Conference in Chicago, and that one was talking about telling your story and how to find tension. And fortunate to be friends with the folks at Bethnet and Brewbound and Project Nosh and all these other places where food and beverage entrepreneurs gather.

Dan: Got you. Well, I appreciate going into that. So back to the promise and then the follow up. Can you go more into that? And then why I'm asking that specifically? If I'm a brand, how do I know what to be ... How do I know what to bring you? What do you need to hear from me? How do I help guide you so that you can help me illustrate that promise and that follow up on the package and does that include my brand strategy?

Fred: Totally. We work with both people that are creating brands from scratch. So total brand creation, and then we're working with folks that are going through a rebrand or a redesign. It depends on where you are in the gamut, in the lifecycle of your company. What we often do with people that already have brands out in the market is ask them to bring us all of their qualitative information. So what have they heard from their demos? What are they hearing from their retail partners? What other brokers saying to them? What are their consumers saying to them online? All of that feedback is really imperative to what don't people understand? What are the most common questions you're getting? Where do you feel like you're not competing as well with your competition, which that entrepreneur should be intimately familiar with.

Then we apply over the top of that, our philosophy of what builds and make successful brands and design and apply that lens to them. So when someone comes to us, we'll say, "Just purely looking at your brand in context of your competition, we think that these are opportunities for improvement." And usually that's a great place to start.

When it comes to brand creation from scratch, there's a lot of heavy lifting to be done. Often times people didn't have names, they just have a product. So that's when we'll really dive into strategy. We do it for even redesigns as well. That's a little bit more alignment. Those companies had been around for brand creation. We're really digging into where does this fit into the white space? Why does the consumer need it? Who might our intended consumer audience be? What makes you the entrepreneur unique? What does the competition lack? And we'll create brand foundations and then from there we'll create brand essentially for the first time, which is always a fun exercise.

But quite honestly, we also tell companies, "Make sure that you're investing in the right things early on." We turned down so many young emerging brands early on because we know that every dollar counts and working with agencies can be rather expensive. You're investing in the value of your company, but tens of thousands of dollars could go to plenty of other things. And we like to say, "Why don't you just get something that's good enough in the market and learn from it and then come back to us, with a wheelbarrow of data that way we can improve."

Dan: But isn't that also costly? I mean, if you don't do it ... You only get a first ... I always like to say that you never get a second chance to disappoint a customer. And so once you've disappointed that customer, then going back and saying, look on the same stuff, just in a different package, how does that impact or how would you frame that conversation to support what you just said?

Fred: Ultimately, it's a product that matters the most. If you're liquid or your food isn't the best that it can be, and that's disappointing consumers, we can't fix that. But if you put out a presentation that's just good enough or that an individual designer has created that's much more economical for you, you'll put that in the market. At the end of the day, what we're doing is we're building brands that try to speak for the product inside. You bring up a good point, but we always, I think overestimate how important that first impression is in the early stages.

When you're in 50 doors, 100 doors, 1000 doors even, there's still so much more blue ocean on the other side of that equation. We would rather see you learn some lessons by vetting locally in your hometown and maybe even just direct online to come back with those data points. Because think of the alternative. You invest $50,000 into building the brand from scratch, putting it out there and all of a sudden getting all these questions from consumers of, "Oh, I still don't understand that." Or, "This still doesn't quite make sense." And then going through that process all over again. It's kind of the tech perspective of MVP or minimum viable product. Just good enough in of design, but again, the actual food or beverage entity needs to be the incredible piece.

Dan: Well, and I can't agree with you more, and I didn't mean to throw you off by saying it. So where I'm going with this is that I agree with you 100%. Progress versus perfection. If you don't get your product on a shelf, you'll never going to get it sold. If you don't get something out there that someone can can try, then you're never going to get started. And so you're absolutely right. You've got to start some place. You've got to get started, you've got to start doing something to move your brand forward. On that note, do you have a strategy or blueprint or something that you can give an emerging brand, even if they're not ready to work for you, that you can help get them to the point where you can work with them? And then what does it look like?

Fred: Yeah, well, the point of getting to work with us is proving out that people actually want what you have to offer. If you can get there and you can drum up excitement or desire, then you've got something on your hands. That doesn't mean it has to be well designed it just means that when you're demoing it, you're getting incredible responses or you've positioned in such way. Things that we give to entrepreneurs all the time are our principles and philosophies that they can at least try to use themselves to make smarter decisions earlier on so that when they come to us, they've thought a lot about those principles of ours and are ready for us to then really implement that for them as professionals.

Dan: Can you share what those are and what they look like?

Fred: Happily. One of our biggest beliefs is that people don't read, they recognize.

Dan: Love that.

Fred: Every single day we get a newspaper, a magazine, an agenda, a syllabus in a classroom, even a billboard that we drive by and we have to choose to read any of those things. But if I flash the Batman logo into the sky, almost everyone is instantaneously going to recognize that, and you can't choose to not recognize something. It's the reason why a picture is literally worth a thousand words. And the best brands in the world understand the power of recognition, whether that'd be the Nike Swoosh, the Mcdonald Golden Arches, the Target logo, the Starbucks Siren. All of these brands play off the visual more than they do their words or word match.

So for us, we think that the food and beverage world is inundated with companies that are just constantly using the written word and language to communicate with folks and what we would rather do in a totally ideal world and who knows, maybe we'll get there some day, it's to build a brand that doesn't have a single piece of messaging on it. That I can look at something and intuit all of these notions just off the way it looks.

We have companies that constantly come to us and want to talk about all my product is all natural, and I want to make sure that I say on the pack. We say we're not going to do that because one, you could potentially open yourself up to legal issues, but two how much better would it be to look natural? So that when I'm sending 10 feet away from the shop and I can't see anything, I still feel all of that without having to be up close and reading that.

Dan: I like that.

Fred: So that's kind of principle number one of just try to ask yourself what's recognizable about your brand and there are different components. It can be a pictorial element, but oftentimes color. So for anyone that's listening right now, if I were holding a small teal box with a little ribbon on it, that might conjure up a lot of brand associations. What I'm talking about is Tiffany's. A lot of people get that where if there's a brown truck that's driving around, people will know that's GPS. Or if I had a red can in my hand, it's Coca Cola. And so color is really important to think about owning as well. When you send someone to the grocery store, who's never seen your brand before. It's the one with blank, we'd like to make that blank really succinct and unmistakable.

Dan: I got to tell you that when you said Teal box, I wasn't thinking Tiffany. It shows you how much of a brand nerd I am. I was thinking of Enjoy Life Foods, which by the way ...

Fred: Hey, well it's funny you should say that.

Dan: Well. Yeah, and that's actually the reason why we're talking today is I was at Expo West, I think it was, and Joe Wade, he said, "Hey, you need to talk to this guy." And so he's the one that connected us. It's been a while. But, so Joel is a great guy. I've known him for quite a while and he was on podcast number eight. So anyhow, but yeah, a great conversation. What a wealth of information. But so anyhow, okay, I missed the Tiffany reference completely.

Fred: Oh, it's all good. I mean it depends on if you're the consumer or not too.

Dan: True. That's true. Okay. Anyhow, go on. The next principle, that was one.

Fred: Yup. That's the first one. The second one is challenge the category, not the consumer. This one is really important because what we think that most entrepreneurs have that big brands don't, is the ability to take risks. To challenge, to not play by the rules that all of the big boys set for us. I'll give you a perfect example. BOOMCHICKAPOP, a highly successful pre popped popcorn brand in the consumer space. Does anyone not know what popcorn looks like? We all know. It's like being told how to put on a seatbelt on an airplane. It's like, I get it, thank you. And so what we do is we take that understanding and ask ourselves, why should we show popcorn on our package? Everyone else does it, but everyone else knows what it looks like. Why would we do that to ourselves? Why would we waste our precious real estate on that?

When you have all these other companies focusing on that and commoditization themselves by saying, "Look, our popcorn looks like this." And everyone else's looks the same. A brand like BOOMCHICKAPOP comes into the space and says, what does it mean? Talks about its personality is having a vivacity and color in just a lighthearted aspect. Of course they name it, BOOMCHICKAPOP by Angie's, and then they use very unique color palettes and they just allowed design to communicate the flavor profile and all of these different nuances without wasting precious real estate on pictures of popcorn because no one needs that.

That's a prime example of challenging the category and not the consumer. Where you start to challenge the consumer would perhaps be in something like Craft Beer. It's easy to be different for different sake. I could put my entire brand into Magenta packages, but if I'm not going after a female audience, that's probably going to alienate a lot of the men that I might be marketing to. So yes, maybe Magenta isn't owned by anyone else, but it's now also simultaneously challenging my male consumer, that's when you run into issues. It's too easy to be different for different sake. It's all about being deliberate and strategic.

Dan: Great. And I love the stories that you're putting out there. So thank you for the illustrations. That really helps frame things because I've spent a lot of time in the salty snack business, I actually worked for a company where we sold popcorn and guess what? We had popcorn on the packaging. So I know exactly what you're talking about it and you're absolutely right. It looked just like everyone else's popcorn in the package. And then when you think about the complexity of putting something like that in your packaging, why try to be another me too? And that's one of the things that I really appreciate you're getting at is that you don't want to be another brand on the shelf that fades into the woodwork or fades into the other brands. So for example, when you walk down the salty snack aisle, you see a notion of yellow. You don't want to have a bag that looks like that. You want to have some that really stands out. So great illustration. So thank you for that. Keep going.

Fred: Yeah. Well, just as a last note, one of my favorite quotes is the opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity. And conformity is what we should all be fighting as entrepreneurs. We're redefining the landscape for taking place in the changing of the guards, playing by someone else's rule book is probably the wrong thing to do and 90% of the scenario. So anyways, those are our two primary guiding principles. We have a bunch of other end of philosophy is like every brand needs to have a strong idea behind and a concept that all design needs to have a bigger purpose than just simply looking good.

We as an agency don't believe in trying to win design awards but being effective. And that starts with having a big idea. So an instance of this is one of our clients out of Colorado Bobo's oat bars, phenomenal brand. They've been in existence for 15 plus years. When we started working with them two years ago, they'd been around for 13. They had one product just owed bars and maybe 16 different flavors and they were ready for some expansion. They just brought on a new CEO, TJ McIntyre from Boulder brands. He joined and he wanted to kick the brand into high gear, into growth through a refresh and just getting greater distribution.

So they came to us, we really dug into the brand, and ultimately what we realized was Bobo's is the brand that brings us home. That was the positioning and that was the concept. If you think about Bobo's as an oat bar in is very competitive and saturated bar set, everyone's focusing on performance and product attributes. How much protein do I have? How much fiber, what am I super foods? It's an arms race of nutrition.

Bobo's as a brand was founded by a single mother with her daughter, whose nickname is Bobo. So this mom named it after her daughter, very familial. In the kitchen, making products that you can still make today at home. So you could actually make a note barn in your own home, but you could never make a kind bar at home or a Clif bar like they would just be entire massive. So this high touch aspect was really important. They still hand baked and baking trays today in their own manufacturing facility. This brand was always more about emotional nutrition, not just physical.

Bobo as a company is all about the home. What that means is it's about taking the high touch and the best memories that we have with our parents and our grandparents baking things, taking the freshness cues of the baking perimeter in a grocery store and bringing it to center aisle. So we focused on the flavors that are baked in there, the oven Mitts, the baking trays, all of these other components. And that all stems back from that concept that is so critical that really makes them different than a Vega or a Clif bar or a KIND bar, all these other things. So that last principle is just having an idea of when someone asks you why you're doing something, what's your company about? Make sure it's differentiated and it's a well of inspiration.

Dan: Love it. And great illustration too. By the way, TJ was actually on the podcast in episode 45 and that was very inspirational.

Fred: Look at this, such a small world. Amazing.

Dan: I know it's funny. So Joe eight and was TJ was 45 but the point is you're exactly, those are brands that are iconic. Those are brands are iconic, not just because of what they do or how they do it, et cetera. But more importantly because of the way that they touch the consumer. And you're absolutely right. Great illustrations. They're packaging is unique in that, like you said, it brings you back to that time, that memory that you had when you were making something. It looks homemade and TJ and I talked a lot about that.

Fred: Exactly.

Dan: Yeah. So I really love that. Any other examples? I'll get out my list of who's been on the podcast. We can go through that if you'd like. But yeah ...

Fred: No. I think that's good. Those are our three core principles that we try to instill in entrepreneurs even before they work with us.

Dan: I appreciate that. In fact, if you've got something a handout or something, a roadmap or something that you would like to offer in the show notes, I'd love to be able to put that out there. And what I'm thinking about Fred is this, if I'm a brand, I don't know what I don't know. And if I had something in my hands that's pointing me in the right direction, that would be instrumental to help guide me to make the right decisions. Because going back to the comment that you said earlier, invest in the right things early and I could not agree with you more. One of the biggest challenges that I run into as I mentor literally hundreds of brands, there are a lot of things that they struggle with and there's this great community around us. This is what makes natural, natural and all you need to do is reach out and there are a lot of people.

Fred: Certainly.

Dan: Yeah, in actually Boulder, I mean all the events that we attend, Expo West, et Cetera, well, there are people there that are willing and eager to help solve some of those problems. Honestly, that's why this podcast exists. That was my impetus in terms of starting this. It's about empowering brands and raising the bar. I believe that the best way to solve a lot of the problems that we're working on, climate change and improving the health of the nation, et Cetera, are all going to be addressed or at least largely address by getting more healthy products or more retailer shelves in the hands of more shoppers.

And the way we do that is by helping our community. Again, we all rise together. Any other examples you want to put in there? Because again, I love the stories, I really appreciate the illustrations. This is exactly what I was hoping that we'd be talking about today.

Fred: I have an array of stories and examples. I mean, one of the brand that we're particularly proud of building is actually in the craft beer space. So that's with our client, Dogfish Head they're, I think the 10th largest craft brewery in the country. Started back in the early '90s by Sam Calgary Yoni, who's I like to say the Steve Jobs of beer minus the asshole part. He's incredible at storytelling. An amazing person, warm, knows just how to captivate a room and is also a beacon for the industry. He's constantly said that he's never going to sell, pokes the finger at big beer when it's deserved and also always fights for the little guy.

What made our work with them so unique is they've been around for nearly 21 years and had never worked with a design agency partner before. They'd done it all internally and they got to this point where they had just proliferated this kind of chaos over all because they never had implemented a design system for dozens upon dozens of beer varietals and styles.

When they started nearly 20 plus years ago, craft beer, the category pretty much did not exist. Their mantra from day one was off center Dale's for off centered people and over time off centerdness became a crutch for them to do all sorts of crazy stuff. It was just an excuse for them to do watercolor here, a hand drawn logo there, photography here, let's not even put the brand name there. And when they came to us they said, "Look, we've grown tremendously, were phenomenally successful, but two things we don't have, right. We don't have an order for our portfolio and consumers can't find us anymore at shelf. Now that there's a craft beer category with 7,000 breweries in the country."

So it was a tall order. What we did for them was an immersion out in Delaware, got onto their turf for three days and drank nothing but beer and it brought worse and literally interviewed everyone from the top of the company, had dinner with Sam and his wife at their home and their CEO all the way down to their innkeeper and the janitors and the people behind the bar pouring pints. So much of that was just understanding what makes them unique, because the geography that place is so important for the beer industry.

Then looking at the beer category and asking ourselves, how are we going to differentiate? And then looking at the consumer and asking them, beer has changed so much over the last 20 years, what do they want and need now? And how do we put all those pieces together? So they already had their concept off centerdness right? But now we had to figure out how to give it legs. So as we dug in, we realized that Dogfish Dead was the most creative when it came to the use of ingredients and creativity is something that we all aspire to be associated with.

In fact, we all see ourselves as being more creative than we actually are, just as we all see ourselves perhaps as being better drivers than we are. But nonetheless, how can we engage that no action in people of creativity while simultaneously focusing on the consumer who wants education more than ever because you've got the shock tops in the blue moons and these folk craft companies that are using flavorings or using filler ingredients. And Dogfish Heads doesn't do any of that.

So how do we take credit for what we're doing right? While also separating ourselves from what everyone else is saying or doing. What we ended up creating was this really robust branding and packaging design that focused on the ingredients as their form of creativity. But essentially their color Palette was their hops, their citrus, their black wines, their sea saw, their crazy ingredients that they're brewing and everything and using that on the packaging to help express that. What you see is what you get. If you look at a pack of Dogfish Head, there's all these ingredients on the handle of the six pack that fall down on the front panel.

Our favorite part is actually this side of the six pack, which is oftentimes merchandise that way because it's shorter and you can put more real estate on a shelf and that we have a bottle silhouette that has literal iconography of everything that's brewed in that beer. And this transparency is something that didn't exist in craft but was really popping up in food bars.

So thinking about a Kind bar, it's a transparent film so that you can see the actual ingredients that make up the bar. Think about a Naked or Odwalla juice today. On the side panel, it tells you how many grapes and Strawberries and bananas go into those juices or smoothies. Think about what RX Bar has done. They're listing ingredients directly on the front panel of their bar.

No one was having that type of conversation when it came to beer. So we created this whole system where on the side panel we tell you in both written narrative and visual iconography because people don't read their recognize, what those components were. And a bunch of other things. But after we finished our redesign, they saw an increase in sales year over year 20%, which is huge for our category that's slightly in decline and growing at slow single digits.

Dan: Love it.

Fred: But that was a diatribe.

Dan: No, I think that's great. That's a good story. And that's a really good illustration. In that instance, you put words on the package to define what's in the package. The reality is a little bit counter to what you were saying you'd ideally like to be working with. On that note, do you help brands with their copywriting or with how they're going to promote their product beyond what's in the package?

Fred: Yeah, absolutely. And just to clarify Dogfish, it was a combination of the written narrative and the visual imagery of the ingredients. So we did a half and half because once you have it in hand, you want to be able to read it. But from a far, I want to be able to see what's in it. But to your point, we do help with copywriting. It is so important not to just figure out what to say on pack, but also how an entrepreneur should talk about their brand. We helped Bobo's reframe their entire conversation around the home and that has seeded into that company in ways that we never imagined.

Their philanthropy of choice is like habitat for humanity where they're creating building homes for folks in different parts of the world, because of that messaging that we established for them, they're now finding other ways to bring that to life, which is pretty incredible.

Dan: Great, good. I mean that's exactly what people want today. They want to align themselves with the brand. One of the things that I think is important is a lot of people, a lot of consumers look beyond the four corners of the package. They go to the website, they do the research. So how do you help someone grow their brand outside of what a consumer would see on a retailer's shelf?

Fred: Give me a little bit more of what you mean by that.

Dan: Well for example, I walk into a store and I see a bunch of different popcorn or beer, whatever the product is, I want to know what's in it. So the consumer today, Fred, they want to know that ... they want to know if I trust their product. And one of the issues at a lot of consumers have outside of the natural space especially, is that they don't trust the ingredients in the product. So they want to be able to go someplace where they can validate that it is what it says it is. That it was a valid claim that people like it. That when you cook it or you do whatever with it, it's going to perform the way you want it to. For example, going back to Bobo's, they want to know that the product was made at home. They want to understand the story. You can't not put ... They've got a great video on their website and you can't put that video on each and every package on a retailer's shelf. How do you do that?

Fred: I mean, it's a tricky thing because ultimately someone ... you have to trust it for yourself, right? If we all just except marketing face value, the world becomes a dangerous place. I believe in freedom of choice. But I also believe in education, right? So if you're going to smoke cigarettes, at least know what that's going to do and know the trade offs. We're in a society where Juul e-cigs and vapes and things like that have used marketing to their advantage to get teen talks and young college students in all of this stuff. And there's been a little conversation on the other side and over time people will see how bad it is for their health, but they have to learn it firsthand.

It's a tough world that we live in because there's word of mouth, there's social media, there's all of these other components. I think that when it comes to food and beverage brands. We as an agency try to help our clients make as little claims as possible. Only the ones that can be validated by almost third party folks. And then authenticity is huge today. We're not going to let a brand and tell a story that we don't think they actually live up to. They may either just won't be a client of ours in the first place or we'll tell them that we don't believe in what's happening or what they're trying to say. So it's interesting. I don't know. It's a tough one to unpack.

Dan: No, I get it. The key point is that you've got to be available where your consumers are, where ever they are, and you've got some consumers that are go to a shelf and look at it and okay, that's enough. And you've got some consumers that won't buy their product until they see that everyone else likes it, try and et cetera. So there's sort of that happy medium in the middle. But I have a philosophy, I have a belief that brands need to own their customers. And here's what I mean, Fred. If I walk into a store and I buy your product, you have no idea who I am. You don't know anything about me or how I use your product or, whatever. I believe that brands need to have or build a community around their brand, preferably on their website, develop a mailing list, et cetera.

But somehow get me engaged in that brand, build a loyalty, build a community around it, et cetera. So instead of promoting heavily to support the brand at shelf, better yet, if you can support the brand or promote it through your group, in other words, give me an exclusive coupon or something like that that I get for being a part of that community or that tribe or whatever. But anyhow, the point being is that develop a strong community or tribe around your brand, and then you can leverage that at retail.

And so where I'm going with that is retails pay to play. Actually, every brand uses what I'd call a push strategy, where the most important thing that they have to offer is your checkbook, how much money you've got in the bank. That is unsustainable, but yet that's the business we're in. I'm trying to reframe that conversation and that's again, why I've got this pot ... Why do this podcast, all of the content I put out, et cetera. So what I ... go ahead, I'm sorry. You're going to something.

Fred: It's good in what you're saying is what embodies lifestyle brands. And I honestly think that it's a term that's overused and it's been bastardized to a really sad place because everyone comes to us and says, "We want a lifestyle brand." And it's like that doesn't happen through design. No agency can create lifestyle brands. Only you can as the entrepreneur. But what it does mean is focusing on the tribe. We spend a lot of time understanding their consumer. Most entrepreneurs are already a part of a tribe creating something for themselves that will immediately resonate with others because the entrepreneur is the consumer when they start.

It's when you get big, it's when you get successful that you lose track of who you're for or who's talking to you. Social media is a great way to stay in touch. Some brands do it right, some brands do it very poorly and treat it just like a business or a service or that exchange of goods and money like you're talking about. But the facilitation of connecting with people is huge. Oftentimes when we're doing positioning and brand strategy work, why somebody does something, we always force our clients to get outside of food and beverage. To feed the world, to make the best tasting energy drink. None of those reasons are why you're doing what you're doing.

We like to think of it as something much greater than that. You just happen to make an energy drink. You just happen to make a protein bar. If you take that perspective, you'll work a lot harder to connect with people on a very different level rather than just, I'm going to sell them food.

Dan: Which I couldn't agree with you more. And that's part of what I'm getting at. So if you have what I call a pull strategy and you've got a community and your community goes into a retail store and says, "How come I can't find this? Why isn't this on my shelf?" That's a lot more attractive. The bottom line is this, retailer's generically don't make anything. What they sell is the real estate that your product takes up on their shelf. A savvy retailer wants two things, a little bit reasonable profit out of the category and they want more traffic in their store. And any brand that's willing and able to help them drive traffic into their store accomplishes two goals is a brand that's going to succeed. And more importantly, if you can align your community with that retail community, then that's a home run. That's where I'd love to see the industry go.

I think in the natural channel, one of the things we don't do well is that we don't help the brands get to that point. So again, appreciate the stories because that's so critically important. So do you also do work with the websites in terms of the design? Do you also do work with other aspects of the marketing campaign beyond just doing the branding and then what does that look like?

Fred: Yeah, we have a core belief that focus is not for the faint of heart. So we take a lot of pride in being dedicated to the food and beverage industry. We work almost exclusively with them. So that means we don't do tech, healthcare, any of these other things. Simultaneously, we pride ourselves on not being a full service company. We're focused on brand strategy, brand development and packaging design. Those are kind of the tenants of the agency.

Now if we do those things for clients on the backside of that, we'll do trade show booths, collateral materials, pitch stacks, websites. But we don't do those things all a cart for folks. We're focused on the core brand tenants first and foremost, and then we offer those. But if it's robust in terms of websites you need to real heavy Ecommerce site, you need a social media playbook, you need general marketing. We're not set up as an agency to facilitate that, but at the same time, we're not hungry to be a full service. So when we hit those points with our clients, we make recommendations all day to folks that we trust in the industry that are experts at those particular subjects. Because we believe in always having the right tools for the job, and the more that we try to do, the less good will be at any of it.

Dan: I appreciate your saying that and that resonates with me. There's so many people that offer or promise things even in this industry unfortunately, that they have no business doing. I make the comment no shine against a first responder. I mean those guys are great. They provide a lot. But the reality is that if you fall off your bike and you skin your knee or you get in an accident or something like that, those are the people you want there. But if you want brain surgery or you need something like that, you need an entirely different skillset. And that's why do what I do. And again, that's what this podcast is getting back to, is trying to provide the resources to stories and to educate and entertain, et cetera around those core principles of, you know, going back to Joe Wade, we had a great conversation about the marketing piece.

How do you incorporate marketing into your mission? How do you leverage your core strength with your brand across your entire platform and build a community around it? When I was talking to TJ, we talked about knowing your numbers and understanding the business piece and being able to leverage your go to market strategy to drive sales across your entire sales funnel. Two entirely different conversations, both critically important. And again, that goes back to what you said earlier where you said invest in the right things early on. So on that note, what are the things haven't we covered that a brand should be thinking about that they need to be investing in right off the bat?

Fred: Well, product is number one, right? If that isn't there then don't even waste your time with anything else. Outside of that, in terms of early investors, I think it's understanding why you're doing what you're doing and how to pitch it. Those are going to be talking to retailers, those are going to be trying to raise around probably friends and family or a series a and you need to have something that's compelling and that only happens through practice and through experience, getting out there.

Demos are very, very important. That interaction, that personal touch, the thing that makes you realize style brand, those are key functions of an early successful brand and that people want to see, grow and want to be involved with. And then, I don't think it gets talked about enough in our industry, but just being a good human being. The food and beverage world is such a small place. You will cross paths with people five times over. You think that it's the last time, you're taking the wrong approach altogether. I think just being humble, kind and always willing to learn. That's exactly what a young entrepreneur needs to be successful.

Dan: I couldn't agree with you more. That's one of the things that I focus on this show is that you know, it really is about the brand. The brand is more so what is outside of the package rather than what's in the package and what I mean by that. Do you stand behind? What is your cause, how do you align with et Cetera? Was the consumer with a mission and all those things. This is exactly why I created my free Turnkey Sale Story Strategies course. It's because like you said, you need to know who your customers, it's not female, had a household, 2.3 kids, et cetera. It's all those other things. Do they go hiking or the end of Yoga? What do they like to do? How active are they? Where are they active? What type of sports are they into cycling?

The consumer in Boulder, Colorado is very different than the consumer in other states, and you need to know that if that's your core consumer, if your ideal consumer shops ... here's an example, I see this a lot. A lot of brands are so eager to get distribution in the store. They don't think about whether that's a good idea. And so for example, if you've got a really health focused brand and you are doing really, really well in a retailer that has that kind of consumer based and then you get a phone call from someone who says, I'd like to have your product, I'm a chef, but their consumer base is not that health friendly or they're not able their consumers aren't able to pay $12 for a jar of peanut butter, something like that.

Things that are not going to help you succeed, you need to know that. And so, to continue, when you're talking about the investors, I have another belief that I believe a CEO should not be perpetual fundraiser. The more you understand this stuff, and again, I want to reemphasize, the more you understand everything we've been talking about today, the more valuable you can make your brand to a potential investor.

The reason that's important is because then you become ... a lot of brands are more commoditized in terms of the way they do things, but then at that point, excuse me, you become a value add and you want to be a valuable asset to any investor's portfolio. More importantly, that translates into your ability to help a retailer. So what are the things have we not covered? And by the way, I talk about demos a lot on the show too. Go back and check some of those issues that I was talking KPop’s yesterday about ... he actually gets ...

Fred: Oh, yeah. Dustin.

Dan: Yeah, great conversation. That'll be out pretty soon. But on that conversation we were talking about how he actually does the demos with you. So let me back up a little bit. Andrew Therrien Big Orange Production was talking about how ... he runs a company that does demos and he's really unique in this space and he talks about what you should and shouldn't have around a demo. Even put together a mini course around it, free mini course. But when I was talking to Dustin, Dustin was talking about how he gets up and does the demos himself, which is why I wanted to mention this because you're talking about getting to know your consumer. So here's Dustin demoing his product to his consumers. He's understanding during that process what the consumers are looking for? How they're using it, et cetera.

He's learning the language of that consumer and then when he gets all that and brings that all together to work with someone like you, I imagine that would make your job a lot easier. And that I would imagine is probably what you would like in an ideal customer. Your thoughts?

Fred: Amen. No, nothing to add because it would just be, redundant. I couldn't agree more.

Dan: Yeah, and then it's just a matter of connecting the dots. Anyhow, great conversation. I really appreciate that. What else can you think of that we haven't talked about that you would like to include that we haven't covered yet?

Fred: I don't know. Let me see. I think we've talked a lot about the core fundamentals, certainly as it pertains to building and designing of brands and getting one off the ground. Any more than that? I think there are better people than myself to touch on the subject you've got ... you're a hundred and how many episodes at this point? I think the answers are buried in there.

Dan: Yes. Thank you.

Fred: I don't know that I have anything to add.

Dan: Well, I appreciate that. And these, again, all the kinds of questions that we need to answer, the reason that I keep going down this path, like I said, the courses, I'll give you an illustration. I was talking to someone that came out with a product that I think has got a lot of legs and I think it could do very, very well, but they put it in a one ounce bag. Where in any shelf do you see a one ounce bag next to you know all the other products on the snack section. The point is their advisors, et Cetera, are not giving them the right instruction.

They're not understanding how the customer buys a category. They're not understanding how the products are sold or what consumers want. As a result, unfortunately they're putting so much emphasis into that one ounce package that I don't think they're going to be around long, which is really sad because I think you've got a great product. So again, just trying to help brands, it's trying to help, like Dustin and I were talking about fill in that gap. I'll try to help brands find the answers to the solutions that are going to empower them and help them get on more retailer shelves and then the hand the shoppers. So Fred, thank you so much for coming on today. How do we get ahold of you? Can you please talk about what Interact does over and beyond what we've talked about already?

Fred: Yes, the best way to get in touch with me is to reach out via email, fred@interactboulder.com. I encourage everyone to follow us on Instagram, Interactboulder is the handle, more constantly showcasing our adventures in this big beautiful food world all over the country. And Linkedin is also a great place to connect. In terms of Interact as an agency and a business, we just really pride ourselves on working with the people that are creating the future of big food. It's the seeds that we plant today that will manifest in 10, 15 years that will really disrupt and change things. For us, brand strategy, brand dToday's podcast focus is about your brand, the importance of your brand and how your brand message needs to resonate across every aspect of your sales funnel. To help me with this conversation, I brought on a branding expert.

Your brand is your product's identity. It represents everything you stand for, your mission and your commitment to excellence. That includes your promise and commitment to only use the best ingredients and to make sure that every product consistently delivers your high standards. Your goal as a brand, is to get people to know, like and trust you. Your brand is what jumps off the shelf and catches the customer's eye. Your branding needs to extend beyond the four corners of your package.

Now, while this sounds obvious, many brands have a difficult time with this. Have you ever played the game where you tell someone a story and then they tell someone a story and so on? By the time that story comes back around to you, it's virtually unrecognizable. This is the challenge that literally every brand faces. Your brand's story needs to resonate with the same authenticity and passion as originally told by the founder. Your brand message needs to resonate with every consumer that buys it.

Before that can happen however, you need to make sure that everyone on your sales team, including your external sales team, for example, your brokers, distributors etc, are all in lockstep when it comes to talking about your brand and the importance of your brand. Doing this effectively will give you a substantial and significant competitive advantage. On today's podcast, we talk about why this is important and how you can leverage the strength of your brand and your brand's story, to drive sustainable sales at retail.

After all, that's what all retailers really want, more customers in their store and a reasonable profit in their category. The real strength of your brand is your ability to leverage that unique consumer that buys your product to go in and shop a specific retailer, including an online retailer. This all begins with how you represent your brand on your package and wherever your future and current customers are develop and packaging design, those are our sweet spots, but really just working with fascinating people doing great things is what we care about most.

Dan: That's apparent. I appreciate your sharing that because that's what makes the natural natural. That's why we're doing this. Again, one big community, trying to help elevate other brands. So thank you for sharing your story. This is going to be great. I know people are going to get a lot from it and I'll be certain to put a link to Interact in the podcast show notes and on the podcast webpage, so thank you again.

Fred: Beautiful. Thanks, Dan. Talk soon.

Dan: I want to thank Fred for coming on today and sharing his insights and his wisdom. Branding is something you cannot overlook. It's something you cannot take lightly or pay lip service to. This is the future of your brand. This is your company's identity. I'll put a link to Interact Boulder in the podcast show notes and on the podcast web page.

Today's free downloadable guide is the Essential New Item Checklist, The Recipe for Success. Every time you introduce an item, even a new item, into a retail store, this guide helps teach you the strategies that you need to know to ensure that you properly get on the shelf where your product belongs where it can be easily found by customers looking for your product.

It'll also give you the strategies that you need to know to help your retail partners stand out in a crowded market. This is how you become a category leader, and this is how you gain a substantial and sustainable competitive advantage. You can download this on the podcast show notes and on the podcast webpage. You can get there by going to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session127. Thank you for listening. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Interact Boulder https://interactboulder.com

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