Brand Strategy

June 19, 2019

In the last blog, we continued the discussion of formulating your brand strategy with a discussion of your brand personality. If you are an off-premise retailer, you sell brands. If you an on-premise retailer, you may sell brands or create your own. Either way, you need to understand how the brand icons you sell or create are perceived by you customers.


What is a brand icon?

Icons relate to our sensual side. Sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. We crave certain things as consumers. And our senses help guide us in certain directions. For example, in the morning, you may go to Starbucks for a latte, McDonalds for an English muffin, or Dunkin’ for a cup of coffee. In the afternoon, it might be Chipotle for a burrito, Panera for a panini or Five Guys for a burger. At night, it might be your corner bar or favorite watering hole to hang out with friends and watch the game.

You can also define an icon as something that is unique to your brand and brings up an image in the customer’s mind when they are exposed to one of the 5 senses.

Some examples of this are:

Visual – Frosted mug of beer

Sound – The sound a beer bottle or can makes when opened; the pour

Touch – Pillsbury Doughboy

Smell – Starbucks coffee

Taste – McDonald’s fries

Next, we have the power of people and characters.

A great example of this is the comparison between Jim Koch from Boston Beer and the former spokesman for Dos Equis, “The most interesting man in the world”. Both brands are very successful and use iconic figures in their marketing.

It took much longer for Jim Koch to become an icon. He chose a path very similar to Frank and Jim Perdue. Over time, he was able to convince us of his passion for brewing great beer. The message was always about the beer and the process that they went through to ensure that we were always getting a hand-crafted beer made by someone who cared.

On the other hand, the Dos Equis brand was developed around “the most interesting man in the world”. He doesn’t brew the beer, inspect the ingredients or manage the people. He just drinks the beer. It took years to build brand equity with him. It will be interesting to see what happens with Dos Equis now that they are going after Millennials with the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” campaign.

Other great examples of characters are the St. Pauli Girl and Dogfish Head. How about the Guinness glass, or tap handle?

All of these companies provide plenty of marketing materials for you to use in your business.

And don’t forget your personal icons. Your décor, the uniforms your staff wears, hats, pictures, ambiance etc. Go into a Trader Joes and see how they merchandise, the kind of people they hire, and what they wear for a great example. Or, if you are a frequent flyer, look no further than the flight attendants on Southwest Airlines. Chick-Fil-A is another great example in food marketing. I am constantly amazed at how my students revere this brand and its products. To them it’s more than breaded, fried chicken.

You and your staff are what can separate you from everyone else. Make sure everyone is properly trained and educated on the differences of each product that you sell.

In the next blog, we will wrap up our discussion on building your brand strategy.


Marketing is a race with no finish line!

George Latella teaches Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is the largest major at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at or 610-660-2254.

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