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Branded vs non-branded: what’s the real difference?

If you head to Tesco (or your favourite brand of supermarket), how do you feel when you see their own products versus the branded stuff?

This is probably how your mind works:

  • Supermarket brand product: “That’ll do… It’s cheaper and it’s only a small ingredient.”
  • Branded product: “Oh, I love their stuff and it’s good quality. I’m going to treat myself.”

There’s one very good reason for this: that supermarket brand contains only one redeeming feature – perceived value.

The branded product? That has far more going for it, because there’s meaning behind the name, packaging, and whatever it is that sits within the packaging.

Arguably, the company behind the latter product has put far more effort into their brand. The supermarket hasn’t taken as much effort on theirs, because they don’t need to; those blue and white stripes are enough for people to recognise a cheaper alternative.

For Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons, that works. But for your business? Would you really want your products to look non-branded?


What is perceived value?

The product packaging and naming conventions used by supermarkets for their own-brand products has one very simple job.

It needs to communicate a message to customers. And, in this case, that message is “I offer decent value but zero frills”.

That’s cool, and there’s absolutely a place and audience for such products. But when it comes to brands like yours and ours, it doesn’t cut the mustard. We don’t want our brand to look cheap and boring because our clients aren’t cheap or boring!

The net result? You won’t stand out, and you’ll be overlooked while potential customers go about making their purchasing decisions.

Unless your goal is to create a value brand (as we’ve noted – there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s intentional!), you need to put more effort into your brand.


Why ‘branded’ matters for your business

When you put effort into your brand, it’ll stand out by a country mile – for all the right reasons.

Those supermarket-branded products you see during your weekly shop have no meaning behind them – they just contain the message of cheap, uninspiring, with no frills. Unfortunately, we’ve seen lots of businesses do this – albeit inadvertently.

Imagine a software developer who creates a brand which has zero personality, but which has one thing going for it: a lower price than the rest. It’ll be communicating a single message: “we’re cheaper”. When you’re cheaper, it’s a race to the bottom if there are no other defining factors.

Is that sustainable? Potentially. Does it evoke quality and longevity? Maybe not. Is it capable of growing the business behind the brand and building a community around it of loyal fans and followers? Definitely not.

Now, imagine that the same software developer decides to focus intently on the way its product is packaged. The fact it’s intangible is irrelevant – they can still package their software by adding personality to it on the website.

Mailchimp is a great example of this. Whether you think it’s well-priced or not, you can’t argue that the brand isn’t ‘hit-you-in-the-face’ interesting as soon as you lay eyes on it.

The people behind the brand have clearly put plenty of effort into it. As a result, Mailchimp customers BUY INTO the brand. They want to be a part of it; they want to join the club.


It’s all about core beliefs

Tesco probably don’t care about the core beliefs behind their value brand. It’s why they’re constantly tweaking it to simply shout the word “VALUE!” louder. That’s their only USP.

But your business? You want people to buy into it – you want people to buy into you.

Supermarkets don’t want people to buy into their value range, because that’s of no value to either party. They simply want it to become the default choice for those looking to lower their weekly shopping bill, so they continue to shop with their store.

The branded products in supermarkets want to retain a special place in people’s hearts – a place where price is trumped by brand magnetism. Surely, that’s what you want too, isn’t it?

If so, and if you want to talk brand on a deeper level, just get in touch with our team – we’d love to give you more of an insight into the benefits of branded vs non-branded products and services.