“Until you have decent consumer intelligence and some competitive market information from the cash register, you don’t have the basis for what I would call a tight strategic plan.” With extensive experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, James Richardson brings his background as a cultural anthropologist to understanding the social science and symbology that goes into brand building. He’s also the author of the new book Ramping Your Brand. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.
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About James Richardson
Dr. Richardson is the founder of Premium Growth Solutions, a strategic planning consultancy for early-stage consumer-packaged-goods brands. As a professionally trained cultural anthropologist turned business strategist, he has helped more than 75 CPG brands with their strategic planning, including brands owned by Coca-Cola Venturing and Emerging Brands, The Hershey Company, General Mills, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Brands, and Frito-Lay as well as emerging brands such as Once Upon a Farm, Mother Kombucha, Bobby Sue’s Nuts, Rebel Creamery, zaca recovery, and others. He also hosts his own podcast—Startup Confidential. His thoughts appear regularly in industry publications such as Foodnavigator. And he’s the author of the new book Ramping Your Brand.
What does a cultural anthropologist bring to brand building? With a background as a trained anthropologist, James brings a unique set of skills to his work as a strategist and brand builder. “It means I know the difference between what people say they care about and what they actually care about.” This is key to understanding your brand’s audience.
About Aunt Jemima … As a brand strategist with extensive experience working with CPG brands, I had to ask James about the future of the Aunt Jemima brand. “What you’ve uncovered here (with Aunt Jemima) is a zombie brand. It had become a zombie brand—a zombie brand dressed in racism.” With nothing remarkable about the “dollar-store” product they sell, the brand is in trouble for a lot of reasons.
Think of your brand launch as a beta. Taking a page from the software industry, James encourages businesses to be flexible in the early days of a brand launch.
The key ingredients of a successful strategic plan. “Until you have decent consumer intelligence and cash register and sales data, then you don’t have the basis of a strategic plan.”
What should you do in the next five minutes? As Tom Peters said on this podcast, excellence is the best short-term strategy. I asked James what you should do in the five minutes after this show … “What is the outcome you’re selling and what symbols are you putting out that point to that?”
What brand has made James smile recently? “That’s easy—Progressive Insurance with their Zoom ad creative.” This has come up a lot recently on the On Brand podcast!
To learn more, go to the website for James’s book Ramping Your Brand. There you can find several resources including his Founder’s Quiz. The Quiz tests founders’ self-awareness of what needs to be in place to grow exponentially. Ramping Your Brand can be purchased on Amazon in all formats.
As We Wrap …
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On Brand is sponsored by my book Brand Now. Discover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.
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