Seven Steps to Branding Your Agri-Food Product
Once known as the land of maple syrup, Canada has carved out a reputation for unique, high-quality food products such as salmon, durum wheat, soy and icewine. It’s a reputation that many Canadian agri-food exporters are capitalizing on through the support of the Canada Brand initiative for food and agriculture.
Developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in cooperation with industry and government partners, the program leverages Canada’s global profile to increase the sales of Canadian food and agriculture products. The Canada brand consists of a visual identity and the “Quality is in our nature” tagline, along with a fully articulated brand that is based on international market research. Program members have access to buyer and consumer research, branding tools and templates, a professional photo bank and more.
If your international agri-food marketing consists of promoting your brand name and logo in target markets, consider this: a brand is much more than a visual identity or a catchy slogan. It’s an experience – the sum total of consumers’ perceptions, values and feelings about a product.
Here’s how to make the most of the Canada brand to maximize your agri-food export success:
1. Align your brand with the Canada brand: Has your company evaluated and articulated your brand? Create a list of the words you and your customers attach to your brand. How do they align with the attributes the Canada brand represents, including commitment, quality and excellence, customer focus, nature and trustworthiness? Find the links. Write them down.
2. Develop a branding blueprint for your organization: The Canada brand website offers free membership in the program. By joining, you get access to the research, tools and support you need to develop your branding blueprint – your international sales and marketing roadmap. In it, you will identify your target markets, your customers’ needs and expectations, your competition and your brand promise – your commitment to customers.
3. Seek buy-in at all levels of your company: For a brand to fully take hold in a company and gain momentum, you need buy-in from the front lines all the way up to senior management. Use your branding blueprint as the basis for discussions. Get feedback and build it into your blueprint.
4. Integrate your brand into your business and communications plans: Now that you’ve wrapped your brand in the maple leaf, build your branding “to do list” into your business plan. Establish timelines for making improvements to your company’s systems and infrastructure, and for developing the sales and marketing tools you need to support your brand. Adjust your communications plan by aligning brand messaging and creative tactics.
5. Cultivate your brand internally: From your call centre staff to your sales team, and all the way up to your CEO, everyone within your organization is a brand ambassador. Educate them about the brand, communicate your efforts, offer training and support. Cultivating the brand within your organization is an ongoing process. It’s also your most direct route to success.
6. Communicate your brand: Develop your messaging and visual communications in line with the unique needs of each of your target markets. Integrate the Canada brand maple leaf and tagline into your company’s visual identity and packaging. Seek opportunities to get your message out at every customer touchpoint.
7. Live your brand: Branding is a team effort. Everyone within your company must strive to represent your brand. Living the brand means demonstrating commitment to your brand’s attributes, product quality, customer care and continuous improvement.
Finally, remember that your brand is a living entity. It will grow and evolve over time. Evaluate your branding efforts every six to 12 months. Gauge how customers are responding and adjust your approach based on their perceptions, needs and wants.
For more information, visit the Canada brand website Canada Brand website or contact Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canada brand team at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to connect with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service for advice on your market entry strategy, to access market intelligence and to take advantage of on-the-ground support in your target market(s).
Date: January 17, 2011