What does it take to evolve a successful, beloved pet brand? Among other things, it requires a genuine understanding of the brand and its audience, the ability to fine-tune a company’s story, a partnership with a pet marketing agency built on communication and trust, the skill to get it all done, and the desire to see it through.
We’d worked with FURminator for about six months—B2B pet industry marketing, sales collateral, and a consumer print campaign—when they told us that they wanted to move FURminator from its position as a steady, specialty brand to a household name.
As brand strategists, we were eager to take on the challenge of such a significant positioning shift. Perhaps more importantly, as dog lovers and FURminator users ourselves, we believed that it was the right move. So we got to work.
We started with a few small projects and research for an ad campaign. That research convinced us that the audience for our partner, FURminator, was bigger than they’d been targeting. So we took that research, added to it our experience and analysis of their brand and their market, and put together a strategy based on our belief in the value of custom content and designed to shift FURminator from a beloved, but niche, brand to a household name.
We identified price as the primary hurdle to purchasing for most potential customers early on. So we used new messaging, “Worth It,” in an ad campaign to address that hurdle head-on. However, we knew that it wouldn’t be enough for FURminator to use that language. We had to figure out how to get thousands of passionate FURminator brand ambassadors and influencers to use that language.
We did that in two key ways: by redefining the target audience and by creating a forum through which they could learn, and then use, that language. That forum was the Worth It social site and all the share-able content we created for it.
Words matter. A lot. But web content—that which is highly shared, at least—is visual. To encourage our audience to share the content and spread the message, we had to develop messages couched in highly visual content. That meant custom pet photography and shareable video, harnessing our expertise in photography and videography as well as our experience wrangling high-energy pets.
Our target audience comprises a large number of people actively spending time with their dogs. Consequently, the website had to be accessible at all times, in all places, and on all types of devices. Like the brand strategy itself, the medium needed to respond to the environment of the desired audience. And our design work ensured that response.
Expanding FURminator’s audience meant expanding FURminator’s social footprint. So we designed and established a presence for FURminator on Pinterest and Instagram (to add to their presence on Facebook and Twitter) and united them all through the Worth It site.
Media Planning and Advertising
Understanding that engaging consumers directly was critical to the brand, we developed an integrated media plan. With the goal being to help FURminator reach the right audience, we fulfilled that plan with print and digital ad campaigns closely integrated with FURminator’s presence on social media. From targeted Facebook buys to native advertising, shareable images and fun messaging supporting the “Worth It” position helped drive consumer adoption of the brand’s own language, as well as widespread sharing of social advertising and content.
As part of the FURminator media plan, we recommended an approach to cause marketing centered on pet rescue. We worked with a rescue organization near FURminator’s offices to photograph some of their rescue pets in order to promote adoption in a campaign sponsored by the brand. And we helped FURminator move toward featuring 100% rescue pets on their packaging, linking the brand permanently with a cause near to their hearts and ours.
Pet Rescue Video
Content is Value
While value is a cliché, value is necessary. Value comes in many forms: currency, products, information, status, and states of being. For FURminator, whose primary seller is a premium product, being a household name means providing value across all categories.
We planned, conceived, and created content that pet parents—FURminator’s primary audience—would find valuable. For some, practical information is valuable; for others, humor or beauty is valuable. Expanding our audience meant expanding our marketing to content that would be valuable to all areas of our audience’s lives, from their pets’ coats to their pet hair-free pea coats.
As a result, we saw the fruits of an expanded reach. Pet lovers shared FURminator-branded content across social media platforms and their personal websites more than ever. And the FURminator name is no longer merely associated with professional pet products. Rather, when using FURminator products, consumers signaled membership in a community of people who value life with pets.
The transition from a beloved, but smaller, brand to a household name took time, but the FURminator name became loved by the wider audience that it deserved, so much so that FURminator was acquired for 3X valuation the year after our we initiated our strategy.