brand integrityThere’s so much noise out there, you don’t have the luxury to try to be all things to all people. You must focus on the core value you offer to your customer. We are successful consumer brand developers but we made a ton of mistakes before we finally achieved our success. In our impatience to achieve a positive cash flow as soon as possible, we diluted our brand message several times. We were desperately trying to find the perfect product-market fit that would please our buyers. In retrospect, we should have stuck to our guns, kept it simple, and persevered rather than casting about this way and that, to satisfy the temporary whim of a specific buyer.

Examples of Brand Integrity

We started out offering only two choices, a red (Cabernet Sauvignon) and a white (Sauvignon Blanc) in only one size, the big 1.5-liter bottle, also known as a magnum. This was a very targeted access point into the market and definitely got us started. But instead of maintaining brand integrity, we caved in to the demands of some buyers who said, “Do you have a pink, and can we get this in the small 750 ml sizes?” All of a sudden, we went from 2 choices to 6 choices.

Not only did this challenge our overall brand management, but interestingly, we did not see any growth for two years! Why? Because our brand was new and we exceeded the mind share of our distributors and our retailers. It was hard enough to get them to concentrate on the new brand with two offerings in big bottles. But now, the idea of selling three choices (red, white, and pink) in two sizes each was overwhelming. Today, we advise our clients who are trying to build consumer brands to keep their message as simple as possible and break through the noise with one or two offerings. Once you have achieved that breakthrough, you can expand your line. However, don’t go out there for the first time with a mixed message.

All the great consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands have entered the market with one or two products. Being true to your distinguishing proposition is the essence of brand integrity. These producers all built their brand loyalty on an easy to identify offering that they dominated. Some examples of brands with integrity include Coke, Bud, Kleenex, Tide, etc. As you think about these brands, you immediately identify with their primary proposition whether it’s pop, beer, tissue, or soap.

Integrity Synonym: Brand Message

What is the one thing you want your brand to be known for? How will your customer find your brand in a sea of competitors? Repetition is a large part of the answer. That’s right, simple repetition! Say the same thing over and over in different ways and in different media. You want your customer to say, “ Oh yea, that’s the brand that cleans my laundry,” or, “That’s the best brand for the price and value!” Brand message is communicated through brand image, brand promise, brand positioning, websites and social media.

Brand Image

The brand image is simply how your branded product looks. This includes everything from the logo, to the name, to the font, to the label, to the colors chosen, to the packaging, and even the shipping carton. It also includes signage and written messages. Your brand image should be clean and crisp and visible from 4 feet away.

Brand Promise

The brand promise starts out being your promise of what your brand delivers and what your customers can expect. But after you become established and your customers are used to your brand delivering a certain product in a certain way, you no longer own your brand promise, your customers do! Thinking that the producer can dictate the brand promise is the biggest mistake we see in the marketplace. It usually happens after an acquisition where the acquirer tries to change the promise, or even violates the promise by their corporate behavior.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning for CPG products is all about price and perceived quality. Every category already has a velocity price point. This is the price at which most of the items in that category sell the fastest. If your branded product is above that velocity price point, you are sending a message that says, “This costs more, but it’s worth it.” If you are below that velocity price point, the message is, “We are the budget choice, the most affordable!” Imagine what happens to your customer when you start “repositioning.” You will confuse them or lose them.

Your message on your website and through your social media should be consistent, clear, and unwavering. Your customers and prospects must see a dependable message that continues to deliver your primary value proposition.


Brand integrity is achieved by using all the branding tools to send a consistent message. When you change that message, say too much, or otherwise confuse your customer, you lose them. You also lose your salespeople, your distributors, and your retailers. Keep it simple and keep it on brand!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact