I’m so pleased to welcome my dear friend, fellow food branding addict, accomplished food innovator and entrepreneur Jennifer Barney. Jennifer works with AC&C as a consumer insights expert. Here, she shares a really special reflection on why keeping your house in order is so important.

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It was 2010, and my plane was taxiing before taking off from Austin, Texas. I was returning home from the Whole Foods Global offices, where I had just sold in four Barney Butter Almond Butter products into every single Whole Foods store in the nation. I was on a high! Not only that, I had just completed a brand refresh and was excited about the new look and expression of my brand. I couldn’t wait to deploy my new brand look across everything.

Feeling good in economy class, I received an email that I’ll never forget. Another prominent retailer was offering Barney Butter the opportunity to be featured on an end cap display with signage in all of their stores. If we wanted to participate they needed hi-res photography and longform copy pronto. Like, while I was in the air. With my battery on red, I quickly messaged my office manager (I had no marketing team yet!) and instructed her to pull out my newly completed brand guide. I was going to have to trust her to do it!

That’s when I realized the true value of solid brand foundations and brand guidelines. These are the living tools and backbone of every brand. As a founder, it’s easy to rely on yourself for all decisions and creative. After all, the brand was born of you and your gut. You can easily discern if something is on brand or not, and you can give accurate direction to a skilled Adobe Suite freelancer anytime you need to — day or night. But successful brands outgrow their founders’ ability to be omnipresent. Wise founders know they need to engage trusted creative partners to draw, tease, and flesh out the brand story so the work of visual identity (think logos and more), imagery (illustrations, photography, video), messaging (long form, short form, captions, tag lines) and content (social media posts, PR) can be developed. A brand guide is the deliverable that exists to be referenced by anyone, anytime, to accurately and consistently direct all collateral needs 24/7.

Years later, after selling Barney Butter to a private equity firm, the brand continues to spread the love all over the nation with the same look, tone, and feel I developed with a trusted creative marketing partner years ago.

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