24 Jul

Looking to Help Your Brand Connect? Start With Strong, Clear Messaging

By Becky Fickenworth


I’m feeling conflicted. I recently came across this article, “Smart People Buy Generic Brands,” and I wasn’t sure how to take it. I buy generic (or store-brand) whenever possible but never really considered myself smart for doing so – just frugal. (With three kids in college, I don’t have much of a choice to be anything but!) In fact, if I were perfectly honest, when my boys were younger, I would sometimes wonder if I was somehow less of a parent if I gave my kids generic ibuprofen or baked my yummy chocolate peanut butter cup cookies or frosted banana bars with store-brand flour. (And yes, I’m happy to share the recipes – see below.)

So why am I feeling conflicted if it turns out I’m following the experts’ path, saving money and considered one of the “smart” kids in the process? It’s because in my professional role at Rasor Marketing Communications, words, brand and messaging matter. Even though we’re not an ad agency, it’s still makes me pause as both a consumer and communications professional to read that “…ads are more likely to mislead all but the most knowledgeable consumers.” It also makes me a little sad and angry at the same time to know that all the thought and dollars that go into these creative efforts can end up in the “misleading” pile.

But then I think about the work we do at Rasor, I can honestly say that one of the things we do really well is to help our clients (whether B2B or B2C) find their voice and use it in a way to stand out from the crowd, clearly communicate to their target audiences and position themselves in the market so their clients and potential customers see value in spending money with them.

We work closely with our clients to create strong, clear and well-thought messaging that do the opposite of mislead but aim to inform and educate the people they need to communicate with. Not all advertising (and messaging, I would add) is misleading. I learned the hard way that nothing replaces Heinz ketchup & Hidden Valley ranch dressing. Sometimes the best is best for a reason.

Ponder this while you enjoy a chocolate peanut butter cup cookie or frosted banana bar. And let me know if you find a premium brand ingredient makes it tastier.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

¾ cup smooth peanut butter

¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

5 2-oz packages peanut butter cups, each cup cut into 8 pieces

1 6-oz package semisweet chocolate chips

Heat over to 350°. In medium-size bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; beat until thoroughly blended after each addition. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth. Stir peanut butter cup pieces into dough along with chocolate chips. Drop dough, 3 tablespoonsfuls per cookie, onto ungreased large cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake 13-15 minutes until dry and slightly firm to touch. Let cookies cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Frosted Banana Bars


½ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup (8 oz) sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 medium-ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)


1 8-oz package cream cheese

½ cup butter, softened

2 tsps vanilla extract

3 ¾ – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar

(milk as needed to smooth)


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in bananas. Spread into greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick is smooth. Cool.


In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually beat in enough confectioner’s sugar to achieve desired consistency. (Use milk if needed.) Frost bars. Store in refrigerator.