On branding a commodity

I’ve been eating a lot of Cuties.

Yep that’s right.  Some orange coalition out there successfully persuaded me to seek out a sack of clementines by brand name.

How on earth did that happen?  They’re frickin’ clementines!  A nice feat indeed.

I started thinking about what other commodity products have brand names, and I realize there are actually a bunch.

Here, let me remind you of a few –

So how do you take a commoditized product and make it a brand?  Here are a few things –

  • Have some form of consistency.  Cuties has this one down pat.  A week after I bought my sack of Cuties, I went to a farmers market and bought a bag of clementines. It was then that I learned — not all clementines are created equal.  Not only did I have malformed triangle shaped clementines, some of them had seeds in them.  Blasphemy!  Branding is about the expectation of consistency and a certain amount of quality.  Cuties are about as homogeneous as they come.
  • A story. You and I know the tagline.  “Diamonds are forever.”  Somehow, this holding company sold you a story whereby millions of fools each year hawk over some large chunk of change for a not nearly proportionate small chunk of non-rare carbon.   Or Kobe beef with the cows that are massaged and provided with classical music.
  • Loads and loads of visibility.  Gas stations have this one covered.  As do certain “brands” of fruits and vegetables in grocery stores.  When’s the last time you remember some other brand of bananas or oranges than Chiquita or Cuties at your local Safeway?  That’s distribution lockdown right there.
  • Be part of some collective.  Typically many of these products are part of a collective so that there’s more negotiating power and a marketing budget.  Vidalia Onions are offered as a loss leader in some supermarkets in exchange for muchos visibility.
  • Trademark protection + Regional lockdown.  Champagne?  Port?  Parma Ham?  These are all regional products that have name protection lockdown and a good story to make it worthwhile.  As well, the geographical restrictions serve to limit supply and keep prices at a premium.

And with that, it’s time to figure out what product I can commoditize. 🙂



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