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Twinkies Branding 101

12/03/2012

twinkies-memeIn the past two plus weeks there’s been more discussion around Twinkies than the past two decades.

Twinkies, the iconic snack food (I think it qualifies as food), along with other staples of junk food devotees like Ho Ho’s and Ding Dong’s have been discontinued as a result of Hostess Brand’s business dissolution.

Any brand faces challenges–particularly one that’s been around for more than 80 years. If a brand is carefully built, however, it can be strong enough to sustain almost any negative situation.

So what is it then – about Twinkies that has stood the test of time, trends and jokes?

Build An Emotional Connection – The strongest way you can bond your audience to your brand is through emotion, and the best way to create that emotional component is through storytelling. When you frame your brand’s story in the right way, you reach people on a very deep level.

Twinkies, by the way, are fortunate in the fact that most of us have already crafted our own Twinkie brand story in our heads. Because they’ve been around so long, we all grew up with them; they were an integral part of many a childhood lunch. That’s why the thought of them not being around anymore elicited so much panic.

Deliver Consistently – Consumers love reliability. It’s at the core of Starbucks and McDonald’s success. Worldwide the transaction between consumer and brand is remarkably similar.

How much have Twinkies changed in 80 years? Once. During World War II, because bananas were not readily available, Hostess had to change the Twinkie recipe. The banana creme filling was changed to a vanilla creme filling. The vanilla creme filling was so popular with customers that Hostess stuck with the recipe and did not switch back to the banana creme.

Be Distinctive – If your product is unique it helps. But in today’s fast-cycle world of product development and marketing makeovers being distinctive is easier said then done.

Twinkies are darn good. And while their recipe is relatively simple the brand name eclipses competitor’s attempts at knockoffs. Although health and wellness is a growing trend, there’s still a demand for pure self-indulgence, and in Twinkies’ case, that type of satisfaction is accompanied by nostalgic appeal.

Twinkies embodies all of these characteristics.

In spite of Hostess Brands’ decision to shut down Twinkies is in a position for rebirth with line extensions that will make the brand stronger than ever. Think Twinkies cereal or breakfast pastries, new flavors such as pistachio or raspberry, or how about a Twinkie cake with a healthier profile? Consumers may get more than the wished for if Twinkies’ future new owner can quickly leverage this opportunity.

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