Your brand, your product and the space between

The link between the world of your brand and the product itself.

Claire Sim
By Claire Sim
  • 25 March 2019
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
Know how to brand your business for your market.

Did you know that Colgate has been selling its oral hygiene products ever since way back in 1873? At this time its wares were sold in glass jars and it wouldn’t be until the end of that same century that it’d reach the bathroom cabinets of its customers in collapsible tubes. Yes, the company, its brand and its product has been around for some time. So much so, the name Colgate has become synonymous with toothpaste and sparkling clean teeth. It’s a word that almost tastes minty fresh.

In terms of the company’s main offering and brand, this is a lofty achievement indeed: hallowed ground reserved for only the biggest names of the supermarket shelves. Just as the brand name ‘Hoover’ was adopted by modern parlance as a byword for that machine you use to clean your carpets and even the action itself, Colgate has become almost irreversibly established in its market.

The key words here are ‘in their market’. When, in the early 80s, Colgate decided to branch out into a line of frozen food products the company didn’t quite dominate in the way it were used to. Not at all in fact. You can imagine the thinking behind this move. One of the reasons we brush our teeth is to offset the damage done by the food and drink we eat... so wouldn’t it make sense for experts on oral hygiene to come out with a line of food that complements that?

Well, apparently not. The new line of products performed incredibly poorly. The branding of the actual packaging had that instantly recognisable red and white Colgate logo on the boxes, which we’d say was probably one of the most significant nails in this particular coffin. In actuality, there’s probably not much explanation necessary as to why this venture was such a regrettable part of Colgate’s otherwise rich history as a brand. The downfall was simple. Colgate’s values as a brand were so deeply rooted in the toothpaste market that the association of its minty white toothpaste was simply too strong to translate into the minds of customers shopping for ready-meals. The food itself might have been delicious but somehow it was tainted by the perception Colgate cultivated as a brand. You can now see recreations of the product line in the aptly named Museum of Failure.

So, what’s the lesson here, you ask? For us it just serves to highlight that all important link between the world of your brand and the product itself. Colgate learnt the hard way about just how this link must be rooted in the reality of both, and that there’s no room to be tenuous. You might have found a gap in the market for a new product – but does it fit your brand? There’s nothing wrong with expansion and experimentation, just make sure it’s not too much of a stretch. You could end up leaving a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. 

If you’re looking for advice on the best way to represent your brand consistently across promotional products, speak to one of our experts today.

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