First Impressions are Lasting Impressions


By Caroline J. Beck
February 01, 2012

For many retail businesses, selling a product is the result of a powerful connection between two people: salesperson and customer. But how can you create that same connection when you are selling on-line or in-store without a dedicated sales staff to showcase your unique advantage over myriad other brands? E-tailing and retailing are not that far apart when it comes to the critical component of building relationships that convert to loyalty. In both cases, you have to create a connection that is personal without the benefit of being there. In marketing terms, it is called defining a brand persona.

On the grocery shelf, your brand persona is created by your label – what it says about your oil and your brand. In the internet world, your website becomes your broader “label” and has the same effect. They should both speak to who you are, what your values are and what’s important to you.

So, what does your brand image say about your company and your products? For starters, try this exercise: Describe your brand as a person. Are you male or female? 26 or 62? Where were you born? What do you care about? What do you eat for dinner? Where do you go for fun? Are you an omnivore or a vegan? Are you high-brow or “just folks”? Expand on this as much as you like until you have a clear picture of who this is because this is the person representing your label and your website. Next, think about your customers. Are they likely to want to spend time with you? Will they rely on you for recommendations? Remember, when they buy your specialty food product, they are inviting you into one of the most personal rooms of their house: the kitchen. So, your brand has got to be someone they really want to hang out with.

If this exercise is a bit of a challenge, it might be easier to go to the grocery store and select 2-3 competitive brands and try to write the “personality” for each one. Then compare these profiles to your own. Which one would you want to befriend? Most importantly, which one would you invite home for dinner? This is what you are asking a new customer to do when they are standing in the grocery aisle (and only spending an average 12 seconds to decide on a brand).

This may sound like a tall order for a small label (not to mention the legal details that FDA labeling law requires), but in many cases, it’s all you’ve got. Make sure it does a good job of representing the real you.

For an excellent primer on labeling laws, read The Olive Oil Source's comprehensive page about how to manage labeling requirements.