Judy Deuchar – Head of Merchandising/Programming at TVSN has an intrinsic, instinctive, intuitive understanding of brands, and even more importantly, HOW TO BUILD BRANDS. Here she shares her expertise to fire your inspiration whether you have a brand in the making or an existing brand ready to go to the next level, to guide your understanding of what it takes to have a successful lifecycle.
In examples, Judy refers to skincare, but the guide can be translated to any business: cosmetics, fragrance, fashion, home….
01. BRAND BUILDING – STORY MAKING
I have the best job in the world! I absolutely love brands, brand building and helping new and mature brands to move a step further towards unlocking their potential or getting over a stumbling block. Having the privilege of working with local and global brands of all sizes and stages of the brand building cycle over the last 25 years, I have learnt many lessons and find that the key building blocks of successfully building a brand remain the same.
Would you like to pass this brand on one day to your children or grandchildren? Or do you see yourself selling the company/brand in 5-10 years’ time?
Now you may not be vocal about this to everyone but you need to answer this truthfully to yourself right in the beginning – this answer will shape all actions that lie ahead.
02 WHAT’S YOUR STORY? NO REALLY – WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Your story/DNA/essence all boils down to a handful of salient points.
- For new and old brands – ask your friends/colleagues to write down FIVE words which best describe you/your brand (if the brand carries your name – it’s all about YOU).
- You shall find these end up being brand defining – keep these on Post It notes – type them up and make sure they are everywhere for all to see.
- Over the course of your brand’s life – these 5 words will define all you do, help drive decision making and help you get back on course during rough times.
- Now build your story around this – add in the details, but all to prop up the 5 key words which define your brand story.
- Find yourself a sentence or a few words which best describe what your brand will do – an intangible phrase, eg: ‘the power of feeling younger’ ‘the thrill of the find’ (remember: successful brands leave the customer with a feeling of an emotion).
03 WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER SIMILAR BRANDS?
Time to really know your stuff – research other markets.
- Look at price pointing for similar brands.
- Look at similar stories, similar ingredient based brands (beauty). • Be able to articulate in 20 seconds what makes you stand part from seemingly similar other brands – what is your unique point of difference.
- You will use your 5 story words to help you with this.
Too often I hear a beauty brand proudly say: “We are a skincare range made with the finest natural ingredients, with highest levels of x ingredient, no parabens and nasties and created especially for women by a real woman, who has had a great career within skincare. (ex GM of beauty corporate, ex Model, ex MUA, ex formulator). Targeted skincare for anti-ageing concerns.” However this could describe a thousand beauty brands out there. You need to make your brand story YOUR story – not a story which could describe almost all other new brands. So perhaps instead we can say: “We are a mother and daughter skincare brand, coming from a small farming community near Dubbo, where we use the finest Lavender grown on our family farm for over 120 years. Created using old recipes my grandma passed down from her grandmother. As a beauty therapist, I was always interested in skincare but nothing could beat my grandma’s lavender balm, which is now the central ingredient in all my skincare products which fight the harsh signs of ageing in this Australian climate.”
Same sentiment – but a whole lot more memorable and powerful as a brand story.
04 BUILD YOUR BRAND WITH A HERO OF YOUR RANGE
Many people have to start off rather small owing to investment – but start with your core story – what product will get you noticed, but also make people want to come back for more?
- Build a strategy – product 1, which will be followed/complemented by product 2. Have a timescale and plans in place – once you start and have sold your dream into investors or small retail outlets – make sure you have a follow-up plan so as to not lose momentum.
- This is where you need to remember there are no easy quick wins. Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should. This is a key point to member – so often brands take a side step in the wrong direction. Pressure in industry says they need to add x to their range as its so hip/on trend right now. However, unless it fits into your brand’s 5 key points – do not fall into the trap.
As an example – using our lavender story from before – if you notice charcoal masks are all the rage, do not just add one to your range for the sake of it. Create your own lavender and charcoal mask and use it within your story. Or find your own unique point of difference to stand out – eg: a lavender and clay mask.
05 PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT – STAY TRUE TO YOUR 5 STORY POINTS
Everything you do needs to be governed by your 5 key story points:
- Your packaging.
- New product development.
- Social media campaign.
- Press releases.
Here’s a story to illustrate. I have been working with a great NY based brand for a few years. The creator and owner is a 40-something sassy NY socialite, Prada and Armani clad, who developed a skincare line based on her search for a wholesome skincare regime after having gone through a horrendous ordeal with cancer and its effects on her skin. Money was no object and she was determined to invest in science and the power of the natural ingredient. Her offices, home and life are all tailored, white, with steel and gloss. I’m sure her 5 words would look something like this – sophisticated, results, attitude, global, powerful. So when she showed me her new packing with watercolour floral prints and a soft matt pastel label, I knew she was in trouble. She had fallen into the trap of doing what she felt people would expect from an organic natural range, using matt as it was ‘current’ instead of being herself – sassy, sophisticated and high gloss. She made the change to reflect her true self. Going from struggling to get her message to resonate, the new range now flies off the shelves as she is aiming it to her target audience – the sassy elite of NY and global cities.
06 DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT – SOME CONSIDERATIONS
- Know your brand game plan – 5 story points/product launch direction or route/know your market space.
- Be realistic.
- Now where do similar brands to you in price and natural/science appear in retail: mass market chains, boutiques, salons, spas?
- If you have both a skincare and colour option – always start with skincare. If we trust you with ingredients and product results for our face – we shall trust you with our colour/hair or nails – not always the same the other way around.
- Quality starts with you – a great lesson a former CEO of mine taught me. Don’t walk past a quality–control issue – from picking up rubbish on the floor, to ensuring you do not settle for substandard ingredients, packaging, labels and brand communication.
It’s a humbling experience and a privilege to work with so many creative and enthusiastic people. Positivity and hard work is infectious. So lead from the top. Key statements I am always found saying to my team:
- Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should.
- Short term gain is long term pain.
- Quality starts with you.
- What you put into this, is what you will get out of this.