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...


It takes time to build a brand. Time to gain visibility, traction and trust. Time to build consumer sales.


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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Stop Casting a Wider Net. Be the Big Fish in the Little Pond.

We see this all of the time. Brands, ever hungry for more customers, try to expand by being more inclusive; by trying to appeal to more people by extending themselves beyond their brand parameters. This is wrong; if you’re trying to do that please stop. That just isn’t the way to grow your business or your brand.


Here’s the simple truth. Great brands didn’t become great by trying to be all things to all people. Period. Great brands hone in on their audience and position themselves to be the best in every aspect of their businesses for their specific targeted group. They dare to take a stand and doing that ensures they’ll attract a specific group of followers to the exclusion of everybody else. But in doing that, they know that they will—if they deliver memorable, strong brand experiences to their constituents—own significant mindshare among them. Not to mention love and support.


And that’s crucial. So in that case, if we’re appealing to a specific group of people with our brand aimed squarely at them, how can we expand our reach? The short answer is “We don’t do it by ourselves. We let our brand fans do a lot of it for us.” I know, I know. It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Think about this. Let’s say that you become an ardent fan of a specific brand. That doesn’t happen overnight, of course. It takes a couple of interactions with a brand—or a couple more than that—before you decide you love it and want to become a part of it. Cool.


Let’s say that the brand you tried is KIND (only because I cited them in last week’s post). There are lots of snack and energy bars on the market, but you tried KIND and you loved it. Clean, natural ingredients and the right nutrients made you want to try a KIND bar. Then you were curious about the name so you took out your handy-dandy smart phone and looked at the brand website. Cool stuff. Random acts of kindness that the brand commits itself to and asks its fans to commit to. Hmmm. . . .feels good. You liked it. You wanted to become a part of it.


Now what do you do? Well, you tell all of your friends, of course. Why? Because it feels good and it feels right and they’re like-minded souls; that’s why. So they try KIND bars and they tell a whole bunch of people that they know; and some of them are people that you don’t necessarily know. So exponentially, the brand will grow from favorable buzz that attracts the specific group the brand has positioned itself to appeal to in the first place.


But here’s the point: fans of the brand might lead by talking about how these bars taste great, are natural and nutritionally sound, but they’ll enthuse when they talk about the brand’s raison d’être. They’ll talk about the premise behind the KIND brand and get their listeners inspired. And that’s a powerful thing. When brands inspire people, they become hooked. They’re fans because the brand has a deep, meaningful message and stance.


That’s important since there are lots of choices out there; lots of brands that offer clean, quality energy bars. But none are like KIND, in the end, because of what the brand stands for, right? And that’s another important point. And it’s part of what’s making the brand grow. Consumers who experience the brand then become fans; fans don’t turn to other brands with like-minded products because they’ve become emotionally invested. Then they go out and evangelize turning more consumers into fans of the brand and so on.


Now what does the brand need to do to manage itself properly? First of all, it can’t screw things up by deciding to become something that it clearly isn’t. It can’t stupidly try to shift its positioning to try to appeal to more consumers. Secondly, it needs to make all decisions based on its brand positioning at all times. Adding new products means making sure that it is a logical brand extension and fits the parameters of what the brand is all about. That’s important since many strong brands do themselves great damage by extending into categories where they have no business going. They’re likely attracted by something that’s new, shiny and hot, but that only confuses its core fan base and starts to alienate them in a strange way.


All of this takes focus and discipline. It isn’t easy; if it were then many more brands would be a success, right? Yet, this is the formula for success: to narrow one’s focus and stand for something decisive and meaningful so that you can be the biggest fish in a small pond because casting a net out at sea isn’t going to net you much. You’ll be out there swimming around with all of the other brands who are just trying to catch something. Anything. Your brand isn’t going to be noticed as a small speck in an endless sea so how are you going to catch fish that way?

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