Sep 19, 2013

Growing A Sticky Brand Is Hard. Really, Really Hard!

Let’s make no bones about it. Growing a sticky brand is hard. Really, really hard.

Last week I received an interesting criticism of my Sticky Branding Stories column. Every Tuesday I profile how a mid-market company is challenging the status quo and growing a sticky brand.

My friend is enjoying the stories of sticky brands, but he pointed out that what these companies are doing is really hard. The investments these companies are making in culture, relationship building, positioning and marketing are not average. And in some cases the stories are anomalies.

Stickiness is a strength

The feedback caught my attention. He’s absolutely right. Companies that are challenging the status quo and growing sticky brands are unique. They’ve invested in unique competitive advantages that drive their brands.

For example, The Central Group is challenging the packaging and display industry by wrapping their CPG clients in data and research. They have one of the most sophisticated retail testing labs in North America, and can determine how programs will perform in a retail store before they’re even deployed.

Another example is Muldoon’s Coffee. They are challenging the corporate coffee market by hand-roasting their coffees and delivering them in a proprietary single serve system. The coffee tastes better than Starbucks, and it’s in your office. And as an added benefit, their system is the greenest corporate coffee service. There’s nothing else like it.

Every company featured in the Sticky Branding Stories is doing something pretty amazing. And in every case they are leveraging their core capabilities and investments to grow a sticky brand.

Companies are not born sticky

What’s not as obvious in the Sticky Branding Stories is all of these organizations have faced adversity.

Following the attacks on September Eleventh, The Central Group lost 60% of their business in 18 months. Two of their major clients went bankrupt, another moved their manufacturing from Canada to Mexico, and several others faced similar hardships. They faced a crisis that almost destroyed them.

The experience forced The Central Group to reinvent themselves, and led them into packaging, displays and becoming in-store retail experts. Since the low point following 9/11, the company has grown over three-times and is approaching $50 million in revenue.

Muldoon’s Coffee can be described as a twenty-year overnight success. They may be firing on all cylinders today, but they’ve worked hard to get to this position. They’ve grown from selling vending machines out of Jimmy Muldoon’s garage into a full-service coffee service that roasts their own beans.

Muldoon’s growth has been slow and purposeful as they continually reinvested in their business and their customers. They’ve now achieved a critical mass, and are growing in excess of 20% year-over-year.

Growing a sticky brand is a choice

If growing a sticky brand was easy, everyone would have one. But it’s not. It takes a commitment to go outside of the industry norms and carve your own path.

I am honored to have the opportunity to share these organization’s stories, because there is so much we can learn from these companies. They’re doing something very unique, and they’re the role models for what it takes to grow a sticky brand.

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