It doesn’t matter if you’re selling music or your independently published book or hand-crafted jewelry. You are your own brand. That brand will say everything to a newcomer who hears about your product via media or word of mouth.
If you’re doing things as a hobby and don’t have an interest in profit, you probably don’t need to read another word of this. But if you view your endeavors as a business venture, read on.
You can get a free primer on branding from Trader Joe’s, one of the most expertly branded companies I’ve come across.
Known for budget-friendly prices and quality products, Trader Joe’s has been around for a long time. Once you’re on their mailing list, you’ll receive a monthly tabloid, Fearless Flyer, full of descriptions about products and how to use them. Cooking tips are also included.
That tabloid is folksy and retro. Produced in an early Americana style, the publication’s graphics set it apart from virtually every other grocer or specialty market. Graphics include illustrations of America past, with an agrarian bent. The graphics have captions driving messaging about products like Organic Creamy Tomato Soup and gluten-free items. Each publication focuses on different products. The paper looks as though it is typeset rather than created on hi-tech desktop equipment used today.
There’s an emphasis on farm to table products, and much content about the care that is taken when products are added to the inventory. Whether it’s Pain Au Lait from France or Bamba from Israel, the underlying message is that Trader Joe’s brings you the best there is for reasonable prices.
I love reading the publication.
It’s not just the print issue that supports this company’s branding, though. The Trader Joe’s website is multi-layered, and the timeline on the site is fascinating. It includes the fact the First Trader Joe’s opened in 1967 in Pasadena (Calif.) and it’s still there. The company began as a “small chain of convenience stores.” The website has a great recipes section, info on company contests, announcements, and customary info about products for sale.
What does all this say about branding?
Every item stocked in the stores and every particle of messaging in advertising and signage fits together like a well-designed puzzle. Say Trader Joe’s to someone and if she’s familiar with it, there’s an automatic association between the specialty grocer and reasonable prices.
Your brand can do the same. We live in an age where we can use print messaging, word of mouth via social media, and our web presence to pitch our services or product. The trick is to make certain you not only protect your brand but also craft it as an accurate representation of whatever you are selling. There are a million ways (at least) to do this.
Trader Joe’s marketing and advertising is a great study in successful branding.
Disclosure: No benefits are received from the company as a result of this article.
(Kay B. Day/Feb. 15, 2018)