Building your brand
January 21, 2013
Certified Angus Beef, Laura's Lean Beef, Certified Hereford Beef – these are all beef brands that are recognized by consumers in the meat case. Circle H, Rocking R, MA – these are all cattle brands that are recognized by buyers in the sale barn. Pepsi and Coke are popular soda brands. When it comes to a brand, the successful ones are easy to recognize and hard to forget.
Livestock producers also can build a brand around their operation. According to Elizabeth Bagby, Alltech, "Branding is a personality that identifies a product, service or company."
Bagby spoke in Lexington, KY, in early December at the Alltech 27th Annual Symposium. Bagby, Alltech's North American marketing manager, presented her speech titled, "Selling the Story: Branding, Branding, Branding."
Her speech highlighted the significance of using branding in a growing economy.
"In an increasingly competitive consumer focused environment, the power of brand is becoming ever more apparent," she said. "However, to succeed in branding, it is important to understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects.
Bagby shared the five key points to creating the perfect brand:
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1. Know your audience.
2. Choose your message.
3. Remember the power of the brand.
4. Strive to influence every point of contact.
5. Be a brand fanatic.
So, what makes the Coke brand different from milk, or a Certified Angus Beef ribeye different than a plain old steak? The difference is dollars earned because of that brand.
"What is a brand?" she asked. "A brand is the practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. It's the personality that identifies a product. For example, what's the McDonald's logo? Well, it's the golden arch. But, if I ask what's the McDonald's brand, you might say it's fast-food, kid-friendly, known for good burgers, fries and shakes. The benefit of a brand is customer loyalty."
She explained that brands cut through the clutter and facilitate delivery of a product.
"The 'Beef, it's what's for dinner commercials,' are a great branding tool, but the beef industry did even better by enhancing their message to talk about the 'land of lean beef.' The dairy industry features celebrities, Hollywood stars, athletes and super models to promote how healthy, family-friendly and cool drinking milk can be. The beef and dairy industries have done a good job of building a brand, and they have added on to it by staying on-trend. There's so many brands of milk and yogurt that appeals to moms watching their weight or kids who want fun flavors," she said.
The big challenge is going to be to convince the next generation of families to consume beef.
"Companies will need to understand that their products are less important than their stories. Consumers in the Millennial generation (under age 31) are consuming less beef, not because they are vegetarians, but because they don't know how to cook it and they are intimidated by it. Remember that a consumer when asked where their steak or milk comes from, they are going to say a farmer or rancher. They recognize their food producers, although they would never call you that. A producer in their mind makes movies, not food."
She encouraged dairy and beef producers to dip their toes into the branding business.
"Figure out who buys your beef or your milk and start having conversations with them about your products," she advised. "I do think Coke is going to teach us a lesson on how to brand properly. Coke has higher margins than dairy, and they have a lot more money to promote their products."
Yet, just because high-end soda products have better profits than a simple glass of milk, doesn't mean there isn't opportunities for milk and beef producers to take advantage of. After all, the branding concept originates from cattle brands. Ranchers were the first people in the U.S. to use brands to differentiate their cattle from their neighbors. Branding products to consumers can be a natural progression of that original brand and will help improve profits for cattlemen.