In case you missed past installments of this marketing allegory, Charlie Hatchet is the busy-beaver owner of Moosepicks, a company that makes toothpicks for moose. Back when Charlie’s new company was almost going under, marketing consultant Fred Squirrel helped him turn things around. With Fred’s help, Charlie found a target audience, created a company name and brand, and developed a unique product. Manufacturing is no sweat for Charlie, but he continues learning the ropes of marketing.
“Dad, you won’t like to hear what happened to me today.” Charlie Hatchet’s oldest kit had just appeared inside the lodge.
Charlie’s forkful of aspen-leaf salad stopped halfway to his mouth. “Then maybe you shouldn’t tell me,” he said, winking. “It might ruin my appetite.” His prominent front teeth showed when he grinned.
The kit ignored his comment and went on. “I was making a delivery and Molly Moose—you know, she is Miles Moose’s granddaughter—stopped me along the trail. She told me that she was really disappointed with her last Moosepick. Her first one wore out, she said, so she bought a second one. But the second one was scratchy, and she said it even gave her a splinter!”
“What?” Charlie’s grin was gone. This was no joke. “That can’t be true!”
“Calm down, dear.” Hannah Hatchet patted her husband on the back. “Look, you spilled your salad.”
“Let me finish,” the kit said. “So I asked Molly if I could see the Moosepick that gave her so much trouble. Her home wasn’t far away, so I went with her to fetch it.”
“Good thinking, son!” Charlie praised. He got up from his chair, food forgotten. “And what did you find out? Was it a defective Moosepick that we sold by accident instead of recycling it? Maybe we put it on the wrong stack by mistake.” He was already wondering which of his kits was most likely to have messed up.
The kit dropped his bombshell. “It wasn’t even a Moosepick, Dad! As soon as I saw it, I knew it was one of Porky Pine’s cheap toothpicks.”
Struck with a strange mixture of relief and incredulity, Charlie could hardly believe his ears. “What? How could she have confused a Moosepick with Porky Pine’s poor excuse of a toothpick?”
“Honey,” Hannah gave a gentle rebuke. “Remember what Fred Squirrel told us—that Porky has a viable business, and we should be glad that he promotes the toothpick industry even though we think his product is inferior to ours.”
Hannah went on. “Molly must have gotten confused when she went to buy her second toothpick. She probably didn’t remember where she had gotten her first one.”
“Speaking of Fred Squirrel,” Charlie muttered, “I need to talk with him about this. Moosepicks will develop a poor reputation if forest folk confuse us with Porky Pine.”
First thing the next morning, Charlie sent a hasty Chirp-note to Fred Squirrel. “When can we meet?”
Fred Squirrel suggests branding application.
Fred Squirrel was sympathetic when he heard Charlie’s story. “But don’t you engrave the Moosepicks logo on every Moosepick?” he asked.
“Well, no,” Charlie confessed, suddenly feeling defensive. He scuffed some leaves on the forest floor with his feet. “I did at first, but because it added production time and expense, I decided to drop it.”
Charlie knew what Fred was going to say next, so he beat him to the punch. “A Moosepicks logo on Molly’s first Moosepick would have prevented this problem, right?”
“Most likely,” Fred said. He paused, and then added, “I’m thinking you should invest in branding application. We use your logo and brand colors in advertising, but it might be time to take that a step further.”
Charlie was feeling a little testy, though he didn’t know why. “How do I know that what you have in mind isn’t a waste of acorns?” he asked. “My bank account is in decent shape, but I still have to be careful not to spend acorns on stuff that doesn’t pay off.”
“That’s a good question,” Fred Squirrel said, but he had a ready answer. “Didn’t you lose a sale when Molly Moose purchased from Porky Pine by mistake? Developing and applying your brand carries several benefits, but visual identification is a very basic one. It keeps customers coming back to you to buy a product like the one they had before.”
“I’ll think about it,” Charlie said.
“You do that. And if you decide to go ahead, I suggest investing in branding application for one year and then evaluating. In the meantime you could track referral leads and conversion rates and see if they increase, decrease, or stay steady.”
Charlie trudged home. “Sometimes I long for the days when all I needed to do was cut down a few trees every day,” he told Hannah that evening. “Back then I didn’t need to worry about things like ‘branding application.’ Whatever that means.”
Jip Nickel shares his sweet idea.
Charlie was leaving the Moosepicks warehouse the next morning when Jip Nickel sauntered up the trail. “Hi, Hatchet!” Jip greeted Charlie cheerfully. “What’s on your mind today?”
“Moosepicks. What else?” Charlie replied, faking a friendly grin.
“Really? And why in the world are you thinking about Moosepicks?” Jip joked. But turning serious, he asked, “Any problem in particular today that I can help with?”
So Charlie told him. “I’m being told that I should build my brand. You know, logos, more branding, and all that stuff. But I’m not convinced it’s worth the money.”
Charlie soon discovered that, like Fred Squirrel, Jip Nickel believed in branding. Jip Nickel told him that he should be handing out inexpensive freebies with the Moosepicks logo on them. “I know just the thing for your business,” Jip exclaimed. “Follipops with your logo on the wrapper! If you order enough of them, I will give you my biggest discount.”
Charlie knew that moose youngsters would love the sweet treats. He could imagine them clamoring for their parents to come back for more. He was about ready to tell Jip that he would buy 100 when he remembered his mate’s skepticism about Jip Nickel. Jip had “helped them out” once before, but in Hannah’s opinion, it had been a lot of money down the creek.
Charlie knew he should get Hannah’s input. “That is a great idea,” he said, handing the order form back to Jip. “But let me think about it first. I’ll let you know if I decide to go this route.”
When Charlie told Hannah about Jip’s visit, she stiffened. “You didn’t pay that fox any acorns today, did you? Before we buy anything from him, I think we should consult with Fred Squirrel.”
Charlie learns about brand building.
Three weeks passed, and one morning when Charlie checked his Marketing Plan binder, he saw that his next marketing review meeting with Fred Squirrel was coming up. He wrote a short Chirp-note, “Let’s talk about brand application next week.”
The next week found Fred and Charlie settling in for a deep conversation. “Are you saying I need to start slapping my logo on everything?” Charlie asked. He sipped on a can of the Skrite soda that Fred always seemed to have on hand, noticing the Skrite logo on the side. He wondered what Fred would say about the branded follipops.
“Using your logo strategically is part of it,” Fred replied, “but let’s start deeper than that, at the very soul of your company.”
Charlie wasn’t sure his company had a soul, but he kept his mouth shut.
Fred went on. “Moosepicks—the brand—stands for more than just a piece of wood shaped to function as a tooth cleaner. Look at these three questions:
- What is the Moosepicks promise?
- How can we deliver it consistently over time?
- What is the customer experience that we deliver
These questions are important because your brand is your customer’s perception of your product and your company. Your customers will keep coming back and buying Moosepicks as long as you keep your promises to them.”
“I think I can answer those questions,” Charlie answered. “We promise a lifetime of clean teeth.”
“Delivered with a smile,” Fred added.
“Okay,” Charlie said, grinning. “With a smile—even though I don’t always remember to smile when I am busy or stressed out.”
“In relation to number two, you are doing a great job scaling up the production side of your business while maintaining high quality,” Fred said. “Since you produce a great product for your business, you should probably offer a warranty or no-questions-asked return policy to back that up. It’s all part of fulfilling your brand promise.”
The conversation had been going a while before Charlie remembered his question about the branded follipops.
Fred Squirrel shot Charlie a sideways glance. “Well, my first thought is that follipops probably aren’t a good fit for your brand. Isn’t your brand about clean and healthy teeth? Sucking a ball of sugar is actually bad for teeth.”
Suddenly Charlie was relieved he had not followed Jip Nickel’s advice. Fred’s observation made perfect sense.
“Come to think of it,” Charlie said, “I do have some pencils that I give away, but they aren’t branded. Would getting pencils with the Moosepicks slogan and logo be a good idea?”
Fred slapped Charlie on the back. “That’s a perfect place to start. What other opportunities are we overlooking?”
Charlie finds ways to build his brand.
With Fred's help, Charlie identified existing opportunities to apply the Moosepicks brand:
- Add logo to product
- Add logo on invoices
- Upgrade sign on warehouse with logo
- Better signage and brand swag at annual Moosepicknic
When Charlie asked, "What is swag?" Fred said, "I think of it as 'Stuff We All Get.' Your Moosepicks pencils and those follipops are an example of brand swag."
Fred and Charlie went on to list new brand-driven initiatives they could implement:
- Follow-up thank-you cards to customers
- Free branded info pamphlet on healthy teeth
- Sponsorship at the forest fair
- Free Moosepicks napkins with each purchase
- Free moon-cycle calendars at the end of the year
- Gift certificates
- New retail space (someday!)
Charlie felt overwhelmed by all the ideas, but Fred reassured him that they did not need to implement all of the ideas they had brainstormed. “Over the next few moons, we can evaluate these by the cost versus the potential impact,” Fred explained. “We may decide that some of these ideas are not worth pursuing.”
That evening Charlie told Hannah and the kits about his goal to build the Moosepicks brand. “I like your plan, Dad,” his oldest kit said. “Ever since we stopped engraving the logo on the Moosepicks I just didn’t have the same satisfied feeling when I put another finished Moosepick on the shelf. I’m glad we are putting our signature back on each one we make! Shall we give Molly Moose the first one we brand?”
Moral of the story
Brand building includes effective use of the brand logo and colors, but goes deeper than that. Do your customers feel emotionally connected to you? Do they trust your company or product? If so, why? The answer to that question is part of your brand. Effective branding application not only increases referrals and leads, but also boosts brand loyalty among existing customers. Perhaps most importantly, it also improves employee morale and how they feel about their job.
Can you relate to Charlie Hatchet’s challenges? Rosewood Marketing is your Fred Squirrel for the real world. Would you like someone to walk alongside you to help solve your marketing challenges? Call 717-866-5000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.