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Expert Insights: Unraveling the essence of branding with John Holland

In today’s economy, the power and importance of branding should not be underestimated. You might have a great product, but the key to growth is having a strong brand that represents the values of the company and the efficacy of the product. How do you create a robust brand? At Innovation Factory (iF), our Venture Growth Advisors and Expert Advisors help entrepreneurs like you navigate the ins-and-outs of building a successful business. 

We turned to our Expert Advisors to answer some specific questions and get more insight into navigating some of the common challenges faced by entrepreneurs. In this part of the series, we sat down with John Holland, an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory. Prior to establishing Plutus Consulting Group, John spent over 25 years as a senior executive and CEO in the multinational Food and CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industries. He now guides businesses in brand and product positioning, business strategy, organizational effectiveness, retail customer development and more.

To further understand the impact of branding, here’s what Holland had to share.

John, you’re an expert with years of experience in the CPG industry. How important is having a brand for your businesses? Can you tell us more about the significance of it?

Today, a brand is much more than a name or symbol. It represents the core and heartbeat of a business, embodying its values, personality, and the promises it makes to its customers. Trust, a crucial component of brand loyalty, is built or eroded based on how a brand is perceived and how it behaves across all business operations. For businesses, especially start-ups, crafting a unique and compelling brand identity from the outset is critical for success and can safeguard against costly rebranding and customer confusion down the line.

You mentioned that operations can influence trust and brand loyalty, how should businesses ensure that their operations align with their brand values?

It’s essential for every facet of a business to reflect and support its brand, from marketing and sales, to supply chain and customer service. This alignment reinforces the brand’s value proposition and unique selling points. While entrepreneurs often juggle multiple roles, seeking support from regional innovation centers can provide invaluable guidance in aligning operations with brand strategy.

Can you share the key functional areas of a business that must support the brand?

There are eight critical areas: pricing and price strategy, marketing strategy, business development, supply and distribution channels, operations and fulfillment, and systems and controls (refer to Diagram A). Each of these must be carefully considered and integrated into the brand’s overall strategy, even before revenue starts flowing. This comprehensive approach ensures that the brand’s essence is consistently communicated and experienced by customers across all touchpoints.

(Diagram A)

The eight functional areas of a business should support the core – the value proposition and brand Unique Selling Point (USP). There are no shortcuts. As much as entrepreneurs have their hands full, doing everything, and trying to be good at it all is not possible. And that is why business accelerators, like the Innovation Factory are gold mines for early stage business owners.  

Through this conversation, it becomes clear that the essence of branding extends far beyond mere logos and taglines. It’s a part of strategic business operations, and critical for the success.

If you’re looking for some branding and product development help with your start-up, reach out to Innovation Factory to schedule a meeting with John Holland.

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Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a business accelerator, dedicated to helping Ontario-based businesses launch, scale, and succeed. We provide start-ups, and scaling companies with advisory services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring disruptive technologies to market, leverage intellectual property, increase revenues, attract investment and create jobs. Serving as the catalyst for tech innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011 we are driven to help: Entrepreneurs bring new ideas to life and to market Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) get to the next level Hamilton build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation Innovation can happen anywhere. Our goal is to make it work everywhere. We work to elevate key industry sectors including, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, information technology, integrated mobility, life sciences & health care and social innovations.

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