The power of a brand origin story to define and defend a unique market category

He came home following another day of delicate surgeries to find his young wife collapsed on the living room floor of their Washington D.C. condominium.

For five years she had battled allergies. They had seen top medical specialists who put her on several medications including steroids and antihistamines. Even injections. They helped but also caused harsh side effects. She suffered from weight gain, fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, dry eyes, and decreased daytime alertness.

He kneeled next to her and asked what was wrong.

“I took all of my meds, but I think they are making me sicker,” she told him.

She pleaded, “You’re so brilliant and help everyone else.  Please find a way to help me.”

Using the same rigor of study that had him graduate at the top of his classes in leading medical schools and surgical training programs in the country, he began researching all-natural remedies that didn’t pose the side effects common with big pharma meds.

He discovered five plant-based flavonoids/phytonutrients that had proven effective in combatting allergies by naturally supporting healthy respiratory and immune systems. But he couldn’t find them in one supplement. So he formulated his own remedy.

She tried it and found relief from her allergies in just 48 hours. Friends and family marveled at her transformation and asked to try the formula themselves. His trial group grew over five years until one day they realized they had to make their all-natural allergy remedy known to the world.

You can hear Avni and Dr. Shyam Shridharani tell their origin story and how we created their market category on this episode of the Business of Story podcast.

Your brand story starts by designing your market category

We were lucky. Avein Tafoya, the mindfully indomitable CEO of Adelante Healthcare, referred her friends to us to help them craft the brand story for their new allergy product. Avein had experienced the power of the Story Cycle brand strategy system. We helped her re-brand the community healthcare center she runs in Arizona that has since grown by 300 percent into one of the nation’s leaders in sustainable healthcare.

market category design, brand storytelling, brand strategyThe first step in the Story Cycle is to define your position in the marketplace: what you do different, and therefore better, than anyone else.

We usually ask our clients to define their #1 position in the market. But this time we tried a new approach called “Category Design.”

I had just hosted Christopher Lochhead on our Business of Story podcast. He is a branding expert in Silicon Valley and co-author of Think Bigger, How Rebels and Innovators Create New Categories and Dominate Markets.

Lochhead demonstrates that the brand that clearly designs its new market category and delivers on its brand promises typically dominates its product category.

This is important because we live in a time of abundance. Your customers have myriad choices. The only way to stand out from your competition is to design a concise and compelling category that you can own.

We thought we could own the all-natural allergy supplement category. But when we Googled “all-natural allergy supplement” we found more than 20 million hits. Amazon delivered us more than 36 pages of products with the same search.

How we overcame the congested market of all-natural allergy supplements

Following an exercise out of Lochhead’s playbook (we’re always on the lookout for new ways to make our Story Cycle system more powerful for brands that choose to leverage it), we arrived at the ideal market category design for their new product.

Here is the script we created to design their new category:

How many times do you breathe each day?

About 20,000 inhales and exhales.

And that’s not always easy if you suffer from airborne allergens.

Some 50 million Americans do. 

75% of which still rely on over-the-counter medications.

But they don’t realize that these drugs are often ineffective and…

could be making them even sicker.

WebMD lists 34 side effects to common allergy meds,

including dry mouth, drowsiness, itching, irritability and nightmares.

But they don’t mention what other studies have found. 

That prescription and OTC allergy drugs can lead to cognitive impairment. 

Including a lowered IQ and potential increases in dementia and Alzheimers.

When it comes to understanding the true impacts of allergy meds, Americans are suffering from a severe case of…

Brand strategy, market category design, allergy supplement, all-natural allergy supplement

…Mental mucus. 


Introducing Airloom™ for “Conscious Allergy Relief” 

Airloom™ is the smartest, all-natural support for allergy season, 

with the most potent herbal supplement formulation designed for people mindful toward their mind and body. 

It’s small batch, fresh allergy relief centered on clearing the air about the environmental and big pharma impacts of allergy season on you.

So you can…

Inhale a healthy dose of life again.

The “conscious seasonal wellness” brand story

We had the ideal category designed to carve out our niche in the congested all-natural allergy supplement industry as defined above: “Conscious Allergy Relief.” Our target customers are found in the yoga and mindfulness communities, two growing practices that both begin with breath. When allergies restrict your breathing, your experience is diminished.

Our strategy is to help people “own their breath” with Airloom™.

This target audience is already thinking about natural health and wellness. And when they find something that works, they become the ultimate “sneezers” building our word of mouth marketing to help us grow into the larger consumer market.

But the problem is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) won’t allow us to say “…Allergy Relief” even though numerous studies from around the world have documented the efficacy of Airloom’s five botanical ingredients, including grape seed extract, quercetin, bromelain, butterbur extract and turmeric.

We can’t say “Allergy relief” because the couple who created Airloom, and who has brought it to market all with their own money, can’t, like most natural supplement creators, afford the millions of dollars in studies the FDA requires to make such claims.

It’s not surprising that the FDA wields so much power over natural supplement marketers that compete with big pharma when you consider that pharmaceuticals/health products are the top lobbying industry in Washington D.C. outspending its nearest competitor, the insurance industry, by 57 percent in 2017, according to Statista.

Brand strategy, category design, all-natural allergy supplements


This is another form of mental mucus that American consumers suffer from when it comes to their over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications: the monopolistic stranglehold big pharma has on our health.

So as brand storytellers for Airloom™, we have to use what FDA attorneys call, “mere puffery,” to describe how Airloom™ works. We prefer to call it “enthusiastic euphemisms.” These are constructed using metaphors, which actually make for more compelling brand storytelling because it allows you to connect the dots. You become an active participant in the story.

Enthusiastic euphemisms include thoughts like…

Airloom’s ingredients read more like a shopping list for your local farmer’s market than something you’d find in a drugstore.

Encouraging healthy histamine levels without the mind-numbing side effects of big pharma.

Airloom helps keep your immune system in chill mode by supporting a healthy immune response to seasonal stress.

So we changed conscious allergy relief to “Conscious Seasonal Wellness.” But the category we designed and our target audience strategy remains intact.

The goal of Airloom™ is to not just provide relief from seasonal airborne irritants but to awaken the masses to the side effects of prescription drugs and OTC medications when nature provides what you need for better health.

Which leads us to our FDA-approved disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

So if you want to be mindful of the environmental and big pharma impacts on you and your loved ones due to airborne allergens, then try Airloom™. It’s your conscious seasonal wellness supplement that supports a healthy respiratory and immune system so you can inhale a healthy dose of life.

Airloom™ clears up your mental mucus, too.