@DairyBusiness: What we can learn from Coca-Cola
The importance of building a brand
By Kayla Jentz
Did you know the origins of the word “brand” (as referred to in marketing) come from Norse cattle breeders who literally branded their cattle to differentiate them from other herds?
You may then wonder, as I sometimes do, why we in the dairy industry lack a strong “brand.” Sure, we have “Got Milk?” and a few scattered state milk commercials here and there. But, I’m talking about the size and scale of a brand like Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola doesn’t help your health, yet people can’t get enough of it. It’s the ultimate brand. When you think Coca-Cola, you immediately see those classic white letters of the logo on the can. You think of polar bears, just as one would think of Clydesdales when Budweiser is mentioned. I envision the “Coke” glass bottle.
That’s how you know branding works. When it cuts through the clutter of our increasingly cluttered world.
When you think of Coca-Cola, it facilitates a delivery of promise; you know what you’re getting when you buy a Coke product.
It also taps into emotional drivers. Maybe you love the polar bears; perhaps they remind you of Christmas? Maybe you had a special moment with a grandparent while drinking a Coke?
In any case, a brand is the total customer experience, essentially all the things a consumer associates with your company.
Elizabeth Bagby, speaking at Alltech’s Global 500 this past December, said “I do not accept that we (the dairy industry) don’t need to brand because we sell business to business. People know milk comes from the farm, so you are a brand.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
You the farmers, your cows, your operations are all part of milk’s brand. Most consumers are generations removed from the farm, but they still know milk comes from “the farm.”
And, according to Bagby, “you will survive and thrive based on your stories.”
The story of farming and all that goes with it is milk’s brand.
How are you telling that story? Today’s two-screen era (and by that I mean sitting with your laptop in front of the TV, or using your tablet while holding your cell phone) means we have more space to cover than ever, and it also means we can’t wait for someone else to tell the story of milk for us, as we’ve seen far to often with activist organizations.
Social media is the perfect place to start with branding.
You might think you don’t have time for that. Start with just 15 minutes per day. You might think it’s invading your privacy. Well then just join any social media site (don’t even fill out your profile), and “listen” to what others are saying. Finally, you might think “it won’t make me any money.” You would be wrong, because every positive farmer-to-consumer interaction is reflecting on our brand and our products.
• Kayla Jentz is associate editor, DairyBusiness Communications. Contact her via email: email@example.com or phone: 608-848-1420.