F*CK Brand Marketing – Early-Stage Brands Need Product Storytelling

You know your brand’s Instagram feed? Yeah, that digital stream full of all the cool, square, breezy lifestyle posts and overly clever but ultimately vague copy? Yeah, that’s what they call brand marketing. 

Brand marketing is a ‘branch’ of marketing invented by established, leading brands to win ‘heart share’ using vague emotional imagery. It’s brand porn. 

And I keep seeing early-stage consumer brands create their own lavish brand marketing materials, even professional video reels full of lifestyle imagery…a movie of sorts, but without an actual story…just a string of aspirational platitudes. 

Look, I have nothing against lifestyle aspirations. I own a Mini-cooper convertible and live in Tucson. Well, that’s my point. I’m not aspiring to a lifestyle. I’m living it, thank you very much. And that leads me to my real point here.

Brands are social outcomes. When they are babies, you must sell the product through storytelling about the outcomes they deliver on. The outcomes could be highly utilitarian or social, or even lifestyle-oriented, depending on the category. Cars quickly become lifestyle-driven brands. Packaged oatmeal, not so much. Think about it. 

In CPG, generally, you need product storytelling to help the package rise above the shelf clutter. This is a story about why anyone should try your thing. Marketing for early-stage brands is about generating consumer trials. Brand marketing is all about reminding people who already know why they buy for this or that occasion. 

Stop hiring agencies to create monthly posts pegged to holidays, seasons, and stupid shit. This is brand marketing. You don’t have a ‘brand’ yet; it’s information still. 

Dr. James Richardson

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