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How do I turn my product into a REAL brand?

RisingStars

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Dear fellow Fastlaners,

I would like to keep the introduction as short as possible basically I started into self-employment right out of high school. Always did some part side hustles on the side while in school so it made sense to me to skip college and focus on my own ventures.
Thanks, @MJ DeMarco I would be a mindless zombie, following to outlined route if there was not you & your book.

The problem I am facing right now is that I lack direction on how to turn my product into a "real" brand.
I started, pretty careless with just one product in a small niche I could improve. I improved the product and still selling well to this day and even grew sales a lot due to marketing on youtube, Instagram and with amazon AMS headline/product ads (super new in Germany).

Of cause, I have to add more products but I don't have a vision on where to go with this brand.
My main product is in the water analysis space. Biggest target groups are: People who would like to test their drinking water, aquarium owners, pool owners and a lot more.

The brand name is suited for measurement devices similar to "Shopify". When hearing my (registered) brand name you would associate measurement devices with it. This would be no problem if I would solely focus on those but the problem is that this space is SO big that it would be impossible to find the "typical" customer and build an audience.

E.g. I would like to build an email list. This would be pretty easy if I would only offer products FOR a specific CUSTOMER TARGET GROUP not products OF a specific PRODUCT GROUP. Someone who buys a ruler to measure the height of the walls in his house would be really unlikely to be interested in water quality testers or email marketing about the countless other measurement devices on the market.

I currently see the following options for me:

a) I could just launch more high-quality measurement devices and ignore marketing to a specific group of people. The end goal would be to become the go-to brand for measurement devices.
b) I could rename my brand/start another brand focusing on one of my current target groups and directly market to them e.g. build an audience.
c) I could just ignore branding completely and just throw out more and more products who are selling well and treat this as a sole cash flow business and start a "real" brand for a targeted group of customers when time + funds allow.
d) Your input...


I am really looking for advice guys so tell me what you think!

All the best,

Paul
 

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Yoda

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Before you get too far into this...
  1. Why do YOU need a 'brand'?
  2. Do your sales warrant creating said 'brand' yet?
  3. How will focusing on 'brand' image help you sell?
I'm not going to make any bold assumptions, but folks asking these questions are usually looking for more sales, where they think building the 'brand' first makes the leap for them.
 
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RisingStars

RisingStars

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Before you get too far into this...
  1. Why do YOU need a 'brand'?
  2. Do your sales warrant creating said 'brand' yet?
  3. How will focusing on 'brand' image help you sell?
I'm not going to make any bold assumptions, but folks asking these questions are usually looking for more sales, where they think building the 'brand' first makes the leap for them.
Hi @Yoda thank you for your post. I am pretty happy with my sales right now and believe that with adding more products sales will get even better. A brand or better a SPECIFIC audience to sell/market to would strengthen my position in the market and help me grow more independently from amazon.

Technically I have a "brand" (atleast it's registred and printed on my products). This thread is about in what direction I should develop my business in order to build something sustainable.
 

G-Man

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No where in the above question do I hear: What kind of brand does the market want/need?

Something to think about.
 

Denim Chicken

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Branding is a term that's thrown around a lot by newbie logo designers that feel like a logo is a brand. A Brand is how people feel about your company and things your company communicates. So by trying to think of a brand without a customer avatar or target audience, you're just spinning wheels.

Water measurement devices will range for customers...from people like me, who buy it to test my reef aquarium or for people who want to test their RO system for its efficiency and to see if their filters need changing. There's no right answer here.

Do you want to enter water filtration or do you want to enter aquarium niches? And why not both? Water filtration is a component of aquarium hobbies.

The next logical step is probably to sell something that goes well with the device, maybe filters. And then a filtration unit. Then if you wanted, you can expand into other aquarium items.

I feel like trying to brand your 1 product is limited to aesthetics and minor positioning among your competitors. Things like how your package looks, words that communicate your brand values like "quality" or "accurate" or "certified" instead of generic. But other than that, the overall direction of the company is not going to take shape until you launch a few more products IMO.
 
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Yoda

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A brand or better a SPECIFIC audience to sell/market to would strengthen my position in the market and help me grow more independently from amazon.
How, exactly? How big is your 'brand' now? How many years have you been in business? How many markets have you been a mover and a shaker within?

I'm trying to gently lead you in the right direction, which @G-Man alluded to, and it's expansion by product and sales, not name.

You having a 'brand' is not going to suddenly 10x your non-Amazon sales.​

Proper marketing, PPC sales funnels, social advertising, and email marketing to offer new products and increase sales is all possible without so much as thinking one bit about 'branding' at all.

Let the brand build itself.
 
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RisingStars

RisingStars

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No where in the above question do I hear: What kind of brand does the market want/need?

Something to think about.
Thanks for your input. In my current niche I of cause looked to fill a need which I did - otherwise I would not sell that well. In all directions I have laid out in my first post I see opportunity for improvement. Maybe not the next iPhone but there are always small things that I can make better when positioning myself in the market.

@Denim Chicken

For sure I don't think a logo and brand name is a "brand". The filtration systems are a nice input. This idea is basically option 2, since filtration systems don't really work with my brand name. Well since the brand name doesn't matter that much - atleast thats what I've read - I could just add a few matching products with my current brand name even tho ppl associate measurement devices with my brand name.
But I agree with you, that a 100% I need more products within my "brand".



@Yoda

I think we mean the same thing. My "brand" is not even a year old. And even tho I call it brand here all the time, I don't believe I have a brand yet - sorry for the missconception.


"Proper marketing, PPC sales funnels, social advertising, and email marketing to offer new products and increase sales is all possible without so much as thinking one bit about 'branding' at all."

THIS. I am looking to do all of this. So you are suggesting that it doesn't matter what brand name is on the products?
Its more of a question on which products to add or in what direction to grow in order to do all of the above.

Let me put it this way: Dollar Beard Club started (correct me if I am wrong) with only razor blades. Now they carry all kinds of stuff for beard owners. They have specific audience (beard owners) who they can market to.

So I agree with your advice, "expansion by product and sales, not name." I am stuck on if I should add more measurement devices which can be improved to my brand but don't have more in common than beeing used to measure things. --> Hard to market, since there is no specific audience.
OR should I choose one audience of my current product and add more products in order to fill a need for THIS audience? (And don't care about having a brand name that is highly specified on measurement devices?)
 

Yoda

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So you are suggesting that it doesn't matter what brand name is on the products?
I'm suggesting you focus on sales. If you sell 100 units a day, then 1,000, then 10,000 and so on... don't you think people are going to start noticing your brand, anyway?
 

LuckyPup

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No where in the above question do I hear: What kind of brand does the market want/need?

Something to think about.
Yes, I agree with Gman's point. Don't build a brand for its own sake, build a loyal following and your "brand" will evolve, if it's warranted.
 

DesignerOne.

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A brand starts with the product, focus on sales and marketing.

Expand your customer base through marketing campaigns, adsense, and so on. When you notice some customers are asking about this or that in a review of the product or in a direct message to you. Listen to them and adjust your product or add a another product that meets their need.

Meeting their needs allows for the customer base to grow, this will result in building a loyal customer base which is where the brand comes from.

Logos and marketing materials are important but it's only substance, provide a solution! It's how you execute it that will help you the most.
 

ManliestManofMen

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RisingStars, did you figure it out? Are you still doing this? It's hard to say without physically seeing anything -- your brand name, product, logo, website, etc.

You said pools and aquariums. There you go. That's your target customer. Your "brand" / product / company should convey that's what you do. Keep it simple.

Is this the best water tester for them? That's all you need to focus on. Create and sell yourself on that, and then people who need that will (hopefully) snatch it up. But lots of things are in play here: your product, your build quality, your distribution, your website, your messaging, your marketing, your advertising, and your margins/price point.

The only brand you need to be build here is to be the best water tester product in that space as you can be. That's it. Have people use you and recommend you and it will naturally grow.

If you're trying to advertise and target people: literally just think of people who own fish and people who own pools. That's it. Why would they choose to buy your product over others?
 

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ChrisV

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Before you get too far into this...
  1. Why do YOU need a 'brand'?
  2. Do your sales warrant creating said 'brand' yet?
  3. How will focusing on 'brand' image help you sell?
I'm not going to make any bold assumptions, but folks asking these questions are usually looking for more sales, where they think building the 'brand' first makes the leap for them.
I don't know.. i think all products should have a brand.

OP, just get some books on branding.
 
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RisingStars

RisingStars

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Thanks @ManliestManofMen to post on this thread. I've got an email notification reminding me of this thread.
A lot has happend in the two years and I want to share the lessons learned.

Update:

Yes, I am still selling. Better than ever.
The problem from the beginning was that I did not know who my ideal customer is from the start. It makes things so much easier, especially product selection.
Of course the first thing is and should always be that you find something in a certain market to improve.
What are people complaining about in customer reviews?
What do you repeatedly hear your friends complain about?
What do you yourself wish existed?

The part where I went wrong was a) choosing a brand name which is product centric. e.g. "XYZ-Sunglasses" and b) not knowing who I want to serve.

Knowing who your customer is is crucial for modern marketing in my opinion. If your products are for fish tank owners, health fanatics (not saying this in a bad way!) and pool owners, how are you gonna market on FB, Youtube and Instagram? You basically can't since everyone wants content specifically for themselves.
If you are into fitness you wouldn't subscribe to a newsletter which sents weekly tips for fitness, reef keeping and airsoft guns.

What I have done:

I have choosen the aquarium owners to be the customers I want to serve. Therefore, under this brand I did only release products for aquarium owners. In addition to that I will only release products in the water testing space. That way it is align with my product centric brand name and I can make targeted marketing on instagram, fb and youtube.
A niche within a niche basically.

I plan to launch around 6 more products for this brand. After that I will only focus on expanding and marketing with useful content for my customers and start a second brand in a bigger market.

Big vs small market:

I shortly want to touch on this point since this was also a reason why I didn't focus on the aquarium water testing space from the start. It's a niche within a niche, therefore very small.
In hindsight this was good for me since I was not experienced enough to compete in a big market.

"The more challenging and potentially lucrative the waters you fish in, the more likely they are to have attracted skilled fisherman. Unless your skills render you fully competitive, you're more likely to be prey than victor." - Howard Marks

My next brand will be in a slightly bigger market since I've learned a lot and am confident now to compete with the big guys.
 

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