Let’s Get Smarter About Branding!


I will never again go to a BP gas station.

For a few weeks, following the April 20 explosion at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, I gave BP the benefit of the doubt. Then, it became apparent that they were being less than forthcoming in the damage assessments. And, the clincher came last Thursday when I watched an ABC World News segment on BP’s dismal safety record — 760 “egregious willful” violations in the last three years at U.S. refineries, compared to the next oil company with eight.

It’s a cogent reminder of just how tenuous a company’s reputation — or brand — can be.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about brands lately. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear a very smart man by the name of Joaquin Pelaez, senior vice president and chief support officer for the China Division of Yum! Brands, Inc., which operates KFC, Pizza Hut and other restaurants worldwide. I was impressed by the type of growth his company has been able to achieve.

“When you have a brand that people love, you have an amazing opportunity to penetrate the market,” he told those attending the recent Alltech “Bounce Back 2010” Symposium in Lexington, Ky.

It’s one thing to promote a brand with value-added products; it’s another to promote a more generic product like milk. Agricultural commodities can be more of a challenge, but they can be touted for their nutritional value and great taste, as well. There can also be a relationship between the company and the consumer.

While it would appear that the pork and beef industries have made progress with branded product, the dairy industry has not. Oh sure, there are some names on the gallon jugs — names that sound good, but have little identity or association in the consumer’s minds. I buy milk from Roberts Dairy, but I really don’t know much about Roberts Dairy. I don’t have any mental images of Roberts Dairy — nothing as iconic, certainly, as Col. Sanders and KFC.

We need some more marketing sizzle.

Think of it: There are two beverages. One is full of sugar, rots teeth, can rust nails, causes obesity and has zero nutritional value. The other is full of calcium, full of protein, and is nature’s perfect food. The first one sells for $4.39 per gallon; nature’s perfect food for $2.69 per gallon.

“Why is it we allowed this to happen?” Alltech President Pearse Lyons asked those at the Symposium a few weeks ago. The first beverage, Coca Cola, even has the audacity to call itself the “real thing.” Coke has done a tremendous job of marketing itself to consumers and creating a brand image.

Milk hasn’t.

“Guys, we have to brand our industry, we have to brand our products,” Lyons said.

Where is the imagination on the part of the dairy product people?

Lyons, known for his imagination and entrepreneurial spirit, says we could brand milk for different age groups. One type of milk could be marketed for children, one for teenagers, one for young adults, and one for older people, depending on their different needs. Milk for teenagers could tout the value of calcium for developing bones.

Why not market milk as a product with relevance and benefit? Why not drive that home with branding? Let’s come up with brand images that are as iconic as Col. Sanders or Pizza Hut.

A brand can be a very powerful thing. If it’s a good brand, it brings people to your door.

Source: Tom Quaife, Dairy Herd Management


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