You always have a brand message, whether you mean to or not, so why not craft it carefully

Hi again, my friends. Instead of predicting 2022, because I have no clue, I’m going to take us back to 1982, then ask you a question about your business.

For a brief flash in the early-1980s US, truly generic brands appeared on the shelves of supermarkets. Maybe you can still buy them but their impact was different then; appearing on a supermarket aisle was more of a statement. These generic products came as white cans, bags, or boxes with stark black titles. 

My mom bought them for a while because they made her laugh. She felt it was like an inside joke between her and the owner of the company. Their visual simplicity entertained me. I assume most people, though, liked their pricing.

I don’t think I have to ask you whether these products were branded – of course they were.

Since long before human beings existed, living things have branded themselves. For example, flowers brand themselves to their audience (bees) as safe and plentiful cornucopias.

And do the generic brands in question have a message? (Aside from their labels – “Bleach”, “Dogfood”,”Bread”).

Yes – your brand always has a message, whether you craft it deliberately or not, whether it’s expressed as words or not. 

The brand message of generic is: “Here’s something new. We’re less expensive than other brands, more trustworthy, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously”.

This message is pretty good at first, but both the novelty and the trustworthiness vanish quickly. This is why generic brands never last long in one marketplace.

So what are your brand’s messages, ones that outlast inflation and recession? 

– Rowan