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How To Use Three Legacy Brand Marketing Pillars To Set Your CPG Brand Apart

As an emerging brand, it’s hard to ignore the saturation of large-scale brand success. With marketing, manufacturing and legacy on their side, big brands have the ability to roll out new flavor SKUs and praiseworthy campaigns without breaking a sweat.

In contrast, as brands like yours are trying to disrupt consumer habits, deciding where your budget will be most effective to build your brand can lead to making decisions from a place of scarcity; investing in tactics that may not meet your business goals.

Your needs as an emerging CPG brand are different. If you are feeling outpaced, outbudgeted, and outbranded by competitors in your category, then it might be time to customize your approach.

Understanding Big Brand Marketing Pillars

Big brands have decades of legacy on their side. It’s how Clydesdales became synonymous with Anheuser-Busch. They utilize Memory Structures, Geography and Resources in ways that emerging brands cannot. Let’s explore these marketing pillars, how Big Brands leverage them, what the Emerging Brand pitfalls are and how you can gain success with these tactics.

It’s important to remember Big Brand behavior is not the playbook of Emerging Brands, but it does provide an opportunity for innovative solutions. Your approach to these tactics must be based in relevance to you and your consumer while keeping your goals for growth in mind.

Memory Structures

Capturing a consumer’s ‘mental availability’ is key to shifting purchasing habits. According to Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, mental availability is the no-brainer moment for consumers – when a brand stands out, is noticed, and can be recalled as needed. One way to increase recall is through memory.

Memory Structures in branding are the same as the ones our brains use to learn something. Every driver knows to stop at a red light and go at a green one because of memory structures and associative actions. Brands use memory structures to grab the consumers attention and begin to associate an action, emotion, or memory with it. The feel-good stuff.

How Big Brands Leverage Memory Structures

Big brands have a lot to work with, creating memory structures with consumers that extend beyond media advertising. Whether it is a memory associated with childhood, family, a sporting event or vacation, a really good experience with a brand or product over time can trigger the ‘no-brainer’ moment for the consumer in the aisle, influencing purchase decisions.

Emerging Brand Pitfalls

Legacy brands dominate based on seniority. Simply, they’ve been in the market much longer. When Emerging brands try to pack all the messages Big Brands have communicated throughout their legacy into consumer product discovery, the message of the emerging brand is disjointed. The consumer cannot grasp a clear impression on what the product is and what it can mean for them. Mixed or competing messaging from an Emerging Brand will get lost, and the product will be forgotten about; or worse, be remembered in a bad way.

How to Leverage Memory Structures as an Emerging CPG Brand

Emerging brands with a strong, clear brand identity earn the opportunity to create a core memory with the consumer. By tailoring product discovery, the memory structure of your emerging CPG brand starts out on a high note with the consumer.


Geography marketing only in the markets where your product can be found. Yes, it’s that simple. Advertise in your own sandbox.

How Big Brand Leverage Geography

Big brands advertise everywhere because they are available everywhere. Big box stores in suburban strip malls, urban bodegas, and on the shelves of remote privately owned markets. They are global, local, and everywhere in-between. They don’t think regionally because their region exists everywhere at once.

Emerging Brand Pitfalls

Emerging Brands want everyone to know about their product, even if it’s not nearby. Of course, these brands want to shout their emerging awesomeness from the rooftops. But if no one can get their hands on it – it’s just shouting. An ad for a new product a consumer cannot find will be disregarded. Subsequently the brand will be ignored too.

How to Leverage Geography as an Emerging CPG Brand

Emerging Brands benefit from thinking and acting locally. They only advertise where they are selling and build relationships with local retail buyers who invest in emerging CPG brands as a part of their business model. Targeting ads only to consumers with access to their products, that’s sealing the deal.


Resources inform ad spend no matter the brand size and advertisers use a variety of mediums to broadcast messages about products: radio, podcasts, TV, social media, billboards, in-store etc. Each medium has a methodology delivering the brand’s message. Think spokespersons, actors, influencers, blind taste testers, brightly colored packaging, cool graphics, outrageous headlines, calls to action, clickbait, exclusive offers, experiences, QR-codes – the list is growing moment by moment. For ad placement you have to use your assets or Ad-ssets ☺

How Big Brands Leverage Resources (aka Ad Spend)

Big Brands can afford to advertise in places where their products don’t exist – think the internet, terrestrial radio, building custom marketing experiences and more. In the marketing game, it’s pay to play. Coke and Pepsi can duke out their culture on iHeartRadio because they have the cash to play in that arena. Doritos dominates the Superbowl ads because they built a history of flexing a multimillion spend for 30 seconds. Kardashians will influence a hot sauce for about a half a million – if they have a spiritual connection to it. Big Brands spend lots of money contributing to the cacophony of product promotion. Radio, TV, Billboards, Buses, Train Stations, News Outlets, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok – it’s inescapable, expensive, time consuming and the conscious consumer can tune them out.

Emerging Brand Pitfalls

Emerging brands will misspend money trying to compete with Big Brands everywhere; sometimes excessively spending on media marketing while they overlook honing the most crucial billboard for the brand: The Front Panel. If the medium is the message then the strongest message would come from the medium that’s the closest to the product. It’s the one that’s directly on the product. It’s the package!

How to Leverage Resources as an Emerging CPG Brand

Emerging brands intelligently use their product positioning in retailers as an advantage. Sitting right next to a behemoth brand could be an emerging competitor with a clear message right on the front of its package: “I’m new, and I might be better.” It’s using a Big Brand’s weight against them. Emerging CPGs with strong branding and clear messaging on the front panel of their packaging can level the playing field. Right there on the shelves of retailers serves consumers a purchase decision. In a moment of side-by-side comparison, the front panel can influence the consumer to try a new brand over the big brand.

Putting Your Brand Before Marketing

Large and emerging companies can benefit from this philosophy, and it is one we practice at Skidmore – your brand comes first. Branding is your company, product and marketing identity. If a Emerging Brand sends out mixed messages or too many messages, it looks a lot like a crisis of confidence. If the branding is strong, the marketing gets easier and the message will be clearly received by consumers; giving consumers the tools to consider the Emerging Brand over one they might be tired of.