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Ten Clues for Foodservice Success Today

The undercurrent of retail success begins with an understanding where the consumer has been and where they are headed. After all, the consumer is dynamic, not static. If you are starting a new food-focused company or fighting to stay on top, here are 10 clues to keep your brand dynamic:

1. Symbolism: Why you are there! The most successful brands are inclusive. They include values greater than themselves. A lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion, a point in time, aka customer relevance.

2. A story: Most major brands have a story. Examples: If you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford, or if you love your Nikes, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created. What's your story? It's the why behind the buy.

3. A track record: When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not, because to build a real brand you have to have an extensive track record with consumers. It's not what you want to sell. Rather it's what consumers buy from you that becomes the story.

4. Trust: When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have. Case in point: a friend of mine always reminds people that he won't buy an automobile that isn't a BMW. He's had a good experience with his and trusts so much in the company that he doesn't believe there's a better-made car.

5. Expectation: When a consumer chooses a product or service because of brand association, he or she is buying an expectation. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality, or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner.

6. Differentiation: Expectation is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities, but they're successful in developing some differentiation for their products and services that consumers are sold on.

7. Imitators: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and you're probably not a "brand" until you have competitors trying to copy you. Welcome to my world. Haha

8. Market leadership: Top brands are usually looked upon as leaders in the markets they compete in. Market leadership does not mean pricing. Look at Trader Joe's, Aldi, Wal-Mart and Lidl. Consumer adoption and market perception drive leadership.

9. Adaptability: The best brands are flexible and capable of reshaping, reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Coca-Cola is a good example of a brand that has never abandoned its core product, but has evolved its message over time to keep up with changes in the marketplace and society at large.

10. A strong marketing presence: Although it's nice to believe that you can market yourself for free on Facebook and Twitter, the reality is that brands aren't advertising on television and radio because they're dumb. Building and maintaining brand equity requires consumer relevance. Consumers are dynamic, not static. Your marketing efforts must continually evolve.

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