Maureen Ballatori is the founder + CEO of 29 Design Studio Branding & Marketingan agency specialized in food, drink and agriculture.
For many Americans, buying behavior is less driven by what the product is and more by whom makes the sale. Despite attempts by major brands to add “craft” to mass-produced labels, true artisan brands are identified by their authenticity and commitment to quality and care by those seeking to master their craft while celebrating local, ethical, sustainable and meaningful products.
Consumers are moving to goods that don’t take such a heavy toll on the earth and its inhabitants – brands that build diversity, inclusion, equality and other essential and interconnected things into their work. Consumers are willing to pay a little extra for carefully crafted goods whose makers openly and authentically share their concern for both consumers and profits.
As Rose Lawrence of red bread said: “Truly artisanal food implies a deep understanding of the craft of food making. Linked to this understanding is a deep love for the craft, for food and for those who will eat your food. This is evident every step of the way: selection of ingredients, taking care of the process and having fun presenting it to others.”
To be considered premium and artisanal, brands need to understand who they’re talking to, the story they’re telling, provide a compelling physical presence, and navigate the media of engagement. As the founder and CEO of a marketing and branding agency, here are my tips for getting started:
Make your brand customizable.
It’s not enough to love what you make. Your customer must love it, want it and need it. More important than the characteristics of the brand, consumers want to know the direct benefits for themselves.
Use these questions to identify the benefits that will inform the customer who can best serve your brand.
• How will the brand influence lifestyle?
• Which values does the brand align with?
• Which social interests does the brand align with?
• How will the brand make the customer feel?
• What experience will the customer have when interacting with the brand?
• Where does the customer buy the product?
• What do they need to buy the product?
• Which functional aspects make the brand attractive to the customer?
• Which physical aspects make the brand attractive to the customer?
Social impact is one of the key features that draw consumers to craft brands. According to Mintel, consumers want to create a bigger impact, but they lack time, energy and capacity. They are instead looking for brands to do good on their behalf, with “morally better products or services for them to buy or divert profits to charities.”
Share your story.
In my experience, artisanal brands are often the result of a legacy, hard work and innovation, and characters who have striven and succeeded in bringing a product to market. People relate to people, and using storytelling to communicate a brand can instill trust while creating engagement, loyalty and brand equity.
Share the essential emotional drivers with your consumer. When an audience is informed about the brand and its story, the audience will understand the interaction as a relationship. They might view a purchase as a conscious investment in the continued success of both the brand and the consumer.
Make sure your brand is well packaged.
With so much care put into creation, it’s clear that premium artisanal brands approach consumption as an experience for all the senses. The commitment to the artisan experience should be continued with thoughtfully designed packaging.
The packaging is influenced by the way it is displayed and by the interaction and storage of the consumer. Will the product lie flat in a pillow case, often used for basic items, or will it sit high on a shelf in a stand-up pouch or glass jar? Does it need to be resealed for freshness and repeated use? Will seeing the color, shape and quality of the product inside attract buyers? Will it be packaged individually or in bulk? And, in shipping, how can the material shipping experience continue? Sustainable packaging or recyclable materials are also crucial for today’s consumer and deserve attention.
It is also important to know your retailer. Shipping from an online retailer has different requirements than a wholesaler. It’s different from a specialty brick and mortar where premium packaging and certification labels can be the norm.
Understand the value of media.
Finally, a brand must be active to be successful. Brands have to do a serious amount of work building awareness before consumers can consider your products for their needs.
Fill the communication pipeline with positive messages as it can help create positive thoughts and perceptions in the minds of your target audience. Use paid, owned and earned media outlets to find your customer where they are. Then meet them there with your story and your beautiful packaging and do so regularly, given the demands placed on their attention.