Business decisions make sense when brand fundamentals drive them. Entrepreneurs, listen carefully.
Entrepreneurs. We praise them, and especially the way some food lovers have become true trailblazers in the food industry’s exciting developments. John Foraker is one of them, who I saw on stage at the last Expo West. He’s probably best known for his role as Chairman of the Board and then CEO at Annie’s, who sold to General Mills in 2014 for $820MM.
His latest food startup, Once Upon a Farm, develops fresh baby food products, introducing a whole new category to the market, while providing kids from low-income backgrounds with access to fresh organic food. While being interviewed at Expo along with co-founder Jennifer Garner regarding the brand’s launch, the interviewer brought up a crucial question: “Are there any mistakes from your experience at Annie’s that came as lessons for Once Upon a Farm?” This was his answer :
The four co-founders of Once Upon a Farm: (left to right) John Foraker, Jennifer Garner, Cassandra Curtis, and Ari Raz. Source: onceuponafarmorganics.com
We could say today that this ‘Brand First’ approach makes common sense. With John’s example, the development of the brand was a forced afterthought that thankfully gave the company clarity and license to grow. But very often, many entrepreneurs are operationally led and are not adopting this mindset as early as they should. What is certain today is the ‘Brand First’ approach is more important than ever. The rise of social media has accelerated the number of products entering the market, which means more competition and more competition means that differentiation is the key.
I do believe that it’s the brand that drives the business and not the other way around, which is why John Foraker’s advice resonated so strongly with me. Last year I wrote about start-ups that were looking to design a logo before anything else and how that approach won’t get you far today. Rather than developing the shiny new visual identity first, time and energy should be dedicated to building a proper brand platform . A marathon runner starts with a first step and this should be yours.
Authored by CBA North America CEO, Jean-Marc Rinaldi.
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