Since 1999, I have helped well over 160 brands. They represent at least a third as many product/service categories. When being considered for a project, I am often asked, “Have you done work in XYZ category?” “Ours is a different category. We are only interested in consultants with experience in our category.” I have had this question asked about B2B, heavy industrial, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), retail, pharma, federal agencies, professional firms, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, medical devices, financial services, senior services, church-related organizations, hospitality, luxury products, municipalities, colleges and universities, celebrities, nations and I am sure there are some others.
My answer always is, “You are the experts in your category. I am the branding expert and I am also a quick study. It benefits you that I have experience across a myriad of categories. I will be able to bring ‘out of the box’ insights and ideas to the project.”
Are there differences between categories? Sure. Are they differences that would stymie a brand consultant? No, not unless he or she didn’t have much mental horsepower.
What categories have I found to be different?
- B2B because of the decision making process and the marketing tactics used
- Pharma because of the regulatory issues and insular nature of the industry
- People (especially celebrities and famous people) because there is a self-analysis and personal coaching component to the project
- Places (municipalities, regions and nations) because of the diversity of the stakeholders and the complexity of the decision making process
- (Sometimes, but not nearly as much as one might think), not-for-profit organizations because of the lack of budget and sometimes the lack of a marketing counterpart in the organization
- FMCG because one has to understand retail, POS data, category management and other issues specific to FMCG