Claire Ratushny

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Claire Ratushny



So many brands with so many similarities. Is it any wonder that many brands are struggling? Does it surprise anyone that in every sector there are brands that are subsisting on an ever shrinking sliver of the pie?


The problem? Please reread the first sentence of my post. There doesn’t seem to...


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Rebranding is a serious matter. It should never be undertaken lightly when it comes to heritage brands. Often, a simple tweaking is necessary to remain relevant—rather than a major overhaul....


We live in an ultra-competitive society. And we live in a society which loves winners and dismisses losers. That’s part of the reason why people take it so hard when they botch something or lose at something after putting in significant effort to succeed. I mean: what will people think? What will they...

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Why So Many Great Product Lines Fail

For years, I was involved in the world of natural and organic products in the areas of category management, purchasing and marketing at the wholesale and retail levels of the business. I witnessed an industry in its adolescence, with tremendous growth and the usual accompanying growing pains.


What impressed me the most was the passion behind the launch of product lines by entrepreneurs who held deep convictions. You know: the product had to be of the highest quality and clean. No artificial anything: colors, flavor, preservatives. No refinement: just clean, whole foods. No sugar: only natural sweeteners that were, again, unrefined. No GMOs. No animal testing for personal care products. No supplements concocted in labs from artificial ingredients.


All commendable and wonderful. And then there were the other factors. Most of these companies practiced sustainability through and through. Most of them supported worthwhile causes, environmental and otherwise. Most of them acknowledged that they were in business to make money, yes, but also to make a difference. For people and for the planet. Again: commendable.


In spite of all of this, some of them never made it big. And they weren’t alone. Many companies with great products, regardless of the industry they’re in, don’t make it big. Some don’t even make it at all. So why is that?


The short answer is that they’re names without being brands. Entrepreneurs understandably feel that their companies’ products are simply the best. But they need to step back and take the emotion out of it so that they can answer a simple question. “What is it about their product line that is unique? What is it about their company that none of their competitors can do? Because the answers to those questions go to the heart of what constitutes a brand—not a product line name or a company name, but a brand. Of course it’s a brand name but is it memorable? Does it stand out? If not, it’s not a true brand in every sense of the word.


To illustrate what I mean, consider how many products exist in every category. How many snack bars or energy bars are there, for example? How many brand names do you know or recognize? Exactly. As Scott Bedbury, legendary marketer at Nike and Starbucks, said once: “I walked through a hardware store last night and I came across 50 brands I didn’t know existed. They may be great products, but they’re not great brands.”


Coming back to healthy snack bars and granola, KIND is made from whole grains, nuts, fruits and spice, but so are other healthy snacks. So why do we know and remember KIND? Because of the unique positioning of the product line. It isn’t just a name: KIND is a brand. The company’s whole thrust is that it has always been committed to doing its own acts of kindness every day, while exhorting its fans to do the same. Then the company tracks how many kindnesses are being done and posts it on its company blog. This isn’t about mere products: anyone can try to sell products that are healthy. For KIND, the brand is all about starting a movement.


Brands are always about more than selling products. They’re at their core all about a deeper meaning. They offer people something above and beyond; something special. . .a reason to believe. That’s what attracts customers to them: they want to become a part of something deeper. These customers will tell everyone they know about true brands and they will all become fans. . .who can’t live without being a part of this something deeper. It’s important in their lives.


I mean, why munch on a healthy snack bar when you can be eating a KIND bar? To the fans of the brand: you wouldn’t.





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