Branding, Sausages and Sizzles

Developing branding that is based upon real substance, rather than just spin should always be the target for marketers. As David Taylor puts it: Never Mind The Sizzle…Where’s The Sausage?

The “sausage”, so the theory goes, consists of all the functional product benefits, whereas the “sizzle” is the emotion and brand personality or the “image wrapper branding”.

Taylor highlights two brands that have potentially been guilty of sizzle without sausage. Firstly, the costly, but seemingly trivial £22m identity change from Premier Travel Inn to Premier Inn, and secondly the debacle over the 2012 Olympics logo.

In terms of sausage, Taylor identified innocent, The Geek Squad, Lush and Method as companies that deliver fully on their functional product benefits.

For instance, not only do innocent have products that taste good, this substantial sausage is also complemented by a whole load of sizzle – much of which follows naturally from the product itself. One doesn’t have to look far for examples of successful marketing buzz around innocent’s products, whether it be:

  • The “Enjoy By” best before dates on lids;
  • The recent “Buy One, Get One Tree” promotion; or
  • Its support of Help The Aged with “The Big Knit” initiative

One ever-present variable in all successful sausage companies is the presence of in-house creative teams, which ensure a consistent tone of voice, delivered in a fresh and relevant way, everyday. Innocent is particularly good at this, marrying product performance with well executed copy.

Many brand managers have, however, come unstuck trying to emulate the innocent brand, when in truth their sausages just aren’t up to it.

It’s therefore essential as a brand owner to identify what a company’s strengths truly are and to regularly ask “what made our brand famous, and are we still delivering on it”? If the core of the business has become neglected, rejuvenating this is what should be focussed upon, rather than any peripheral or novel distractions.

Even so, even the strongest of sausages occasionally needs help with its sizzle. Research has shown that a significant proportion of a company’s stock value is (directly or otherwise) the result of its image. Therefore, getting corporate positioning and branding right is always of the utmost importance.


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