5 Methods For Growing Brands

Koen PauwelsJuly 12, 20224 min

Brand growth is a key business challenge. Research, such as the double jeopardy revealed by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp in their follow up book, How Brands Grow Part 2, explains why big brands are and stay big: they don’t just have a larger customer base than small brands do, customers also buy them more frequently than they do small brands (‘Double Jeopardy’).

The key manager questions though are:

(1) how to grow your brand, and

(2) how to maintain your brand once it has grown.

In contrast to my disappointment in the first, ‘How Brands Grow’, this version answers these questions, and is full of practical advice as to how to grow and maintain your brand. I especially liked the extensions to online markets, services, durables and business-to-business. Below are five of my takeaways, including awesome one-liners from the book:

1. Appeal To The Full Market: Focus On Light Versus Heavy Category Buyers
A key lesson from HBG is that you should appeal to the full market, which requires a focus on light category buyers. Ensure they see and understand your brand and its advertising. HBG holds that heavy category buyers will notice you anyway: they are more involved into the category and thus much more likely to attend to advertising and try a new brand. Moreover, there are few heavy buyers and they have a repertoire of brands, so the potential for brand growth is limited. In contrast, light category buyers don’t pay much attention to the category. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to observe, find and buy your brand. In other words, ‘we need many people to buy the brand once, and a few to buy it over and over again’

‘Niche brands should be pitied because of their lack of potential, rather than celebrated. Small brands are in a better position than niche brands—they can become big.

2. Aim For Reach In Media
The double jeopardy law also applies to media: the media with the highest penetration (eg online, then TV) also tends to be the most frequented (over e.g. magazines and cinema). Aim for the biggest reach medium first, and only add if you can get more unduplicated reach than duplicated reach. Look at media in different families, so online + in store instead of both offline, as we showed for brands across categories. A media plan with half the reach requires double the behavioral impact to achieve the same sales change. If your budget is small, get as much reach as your money will buy.

‘The real challenge for small brands is not the small ad budget, it is the limited physical ability so high reach does not translate to sales as category consumers can’t buy them.’

3. Focus On Mental Availability, Not ROI Of Your Marketing Actions
Because heavy buyers are more likely to respond to your marketing, the ROI of your actions there may be high (depending on how well you measure incrementality). However, maximizing Return On Advertising Spend should NOT be your objective – instead reach as many (potential) category buyers for a ROAS you can live with. Your ads should be easy enough to understand and identify your brand for the light and new to category buyers.

‘Advertise where you sell: plan for reach where you have, or want, physical availability. Ads should not require work by new to category buyers to understand it or identify the brand.’

4. Anyone Anytime Sales Approach Instead Of Advertising Bursts
Look for mass ways of reaching consumers both physically and mentally. Category Entry Points (CEPs) are mostly (70%) similar across the world, allowing you to develop global campaigns around them. A good test is whether your brand is associated with more CEPs than its size implies.

‘The strength of any positioning is a function of how well these advertising messages have cut through and become linked to the brand in buyer memory, particularly among the brands’ very light or non-buyers.’

5. Ensure Physical Availability
Both physically and online, your brand should be easy to find. For presence, you need 2 views:

1) transaction view: will the buyer search and purchase online or a physical store

2) category buyer view: how they shop across locations

The goal is to minimize the chance that someone buying in the category can’t find your brand.

Online shopping has 3 differences which make it easier for consumers to be loyal to a brand online 1) searchable list of all brands 2) saved past purchases, 3) delivery makes it easier to stockpile favorite brands (e.g. when on deal).

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider By: Dr. Koen Pauwels, and Author of: It’s Not the Size of the Data — It’s How You Use It: Smarter Marketing with Analytics and Dashboards

The Blake Project Can Help Your Brand Grow: The Brand Growth Strategy Workshop

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