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BSI & WSJ: Innovative Branding Search


Can you help? I'm a Wall Street Journal reporter working on a series of articles about small business branding. I'm looking for examples of smaller companies (50 to 500 employees) that have developed innovative branding campaigns and have a story to tell about what has worked and why it was particularly successful for a smaller company.

As marketers, what unique stories can you share? Please share them all. I will be in touch with the commenters whose stories best meet our criteria.

Thank you!

Simona Covel

Sponsored ByBrand Aid

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alan williamson on June 08th, 2007 said


Please take a look at UK-based Innocent Drinks who have taken the UK smoothies market by storm competing with the giants – primarily using powerful brand-building mythological story-telling and other PR-oriented techniques. Simply Google their name and you’ll get tons of stuff for your research.

Alan ‘Brand’ Williamson
Destination Brand Developer

Twitter: edroachbranding
on June 15th, 2007 said

Simona, here is an example for you:

My client manufactures skate guards. Up until about 9 years ago he held and licensed patents on this item. When his patent ran out, his hold on the market fell on shaky ground. Chinese companies were quick to copy his designs and colors. Their tooling was outstanding and their aggression impressive. Being the segment leader due to quality, innovation and color, my client saw his market share potentially slipping away. The fear being, if the skaters had no way of distinguishing the difference between competing products then price would be the only determining factor. Now appearing on shelves were copy-cat skate guards for less than what he was charging in an impressive array of colors. Their leadership position was now threatened.

My client was experiencing what countless other North American companies are currently facing – namely the dreaded “off-shore” threat. While other companies sit idly by and watch their livelihood dwindle away, Marc Evon Enterprises decided to fight back. It’s what true entrepreneurs do.

Marc Evon Enterprises decided that they must re-address their brand and re-capture lost ground by building up the experience between his company and it’s customers. It must now let skaters know that there is a difference between the copy-cats and their product. Marc Evon’s efforts in addressing the brand was a new name to represent the company. GUARDOG® was chosen. Now Guardog® will represent all of their products. The positioning line, “Anything else is a mutt.” establishes the quality position of Guardog® products and aggressively reinforces Guardog® as the leader in it’s category. The new Guardog® logo was embossed on the skate guards to visually distinguish the guards even when out of the package. This is the start of building demand through brand identity among skaters, because without the embossing, the skate guards were practically indistinguishable from the copy-cats. This branding of the skate guards showed skaters that this was indeed the original product that they have always trusted to perform.

On the store shelves, the competition payed very little attention to packaging. As a matter of fact they were down-right bland, and utilitarian in design. Reinforcing Guradog’s® ongoing brand values of attention to design and innovation, it’s packaging now captures the dynamic look and quality of the Guardog® product. Newer product colors and styles once again lead the segment, forcing the competition to follow Guardog’s® lead. The difference is that now skaters have a brand image to embrace. This brand loyalty allows Guardog® to compete on quality and reputation – not price. It is considered cool to own Guardogs®. As a matter of fact many of the world’s leading figure skaters wear Guardog® as their brand of choice.

The web presence was launched to appeal to its global audience and provide a tool for distributors and retailers. All promotional materials are very striking, reflecting a bold brand image. All of Guardog’s® branded products have resulted in the company pulling away from a threatening past and thrusting it into a more profitable future. Because of it’s branding initiatives, the company has been inspired to expand its product lines and grow the business. Marc Evon’s experience proves that an effective brand strategy can defeat what appears to be a daunting off-shore threat, AND not have to compete on price alone. Because the Guardog® brand is working the jobs are staying at home too.

Guardog®. Anything else is a mutt.®

Derrick Daye on June 20th, 2007 said

One of the most unique small business branding strategies that I know of took place in Pennsylvania at a small grocery store chain. I read the case study some years ago and some of the details escape me.

This small chain had been focusing on price to lure shoppers. Only price. Of course this magnetized them to picky, price-only shoppers. Management desired lasting relationships with iron-clad loyalty and they were committed to building them. Without the budgets of the competition the shift would have to find the market bulls-eye with the same limited budget they always had. They opted for a revolutionary, risky and certainly unique strategy.

Stop Advertising. Completely.

They re-directed the advertising budget to support a customer-centric direction. They knew for this to work they would have to build a customer base that was loyal and motivated to a degree that they would help replace their advertising methods with word of mouth.

To achieve this they upgraded the customer experience at all points of contact, delivered a higher grade of service and rewarded loyal shoppers with a wide range of goods and services throughout the year – like free turkeys at Thanksgiving.

They also made a deal with their customers –encourage your families and friends to shop with us and we’ll invest more in you and the community and less in advertisers.

It was recorded that this approach was a success. I learned of this around 1999-2000, can anyone expand on it?


  1. Anonymous - June 5, 2007

    Branding Strategy Insider: BSI & WSJ: Innovative Branding Search

    Can you help? I’m a Wall Street Journal reporter working on a series of articles about small business branding. I’m looking for examples of smaller companies (50 to 500 employees) that have developed innovative branding campaigns and have a story to te…

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