As the product founder, of course you’re in love with your drinks brand, but what if the signs show it’s time for a re-think?
By Luke Raskino
The big question to ask yourself is, ‘What is the talk-ability factor of my brand?’ The ultimate test: give your product to 20 bloggers and see how easy it is to convince them to write about your drink without paying them. No take-up? It could be time to re-look at your branding.
When I developed the award-winning clean energy drink Flyte with my co-founder Jonathan Reeves, we gave 150 cans of Flyte to 150 bloggers, hoping they would start posting about us. A hundred of them wanted to work with us. Having been on the rollercoaster journey of launching a brand from scratch, I founded Delicious Labs so I could use my experience to help other entrepreneurs treading the same path.
While pitching to potential investors and stockists, as founders, we always feel a flood of excitement for our brand, but the crunch time comes once the bottle leaves the pitch environment and is sat next to 100 other drinks on the shelf. Can its packaging sell itself? If it doesn’t stand out, it’s time for a re-design.
To explore the issues, I spoke to Jon Cooney, founder of Amaize Drinks Ltd, who shared the branding challenges he faces. He is planning to launch Purple Cola this year (made from purple corn) and re-launch his Amaize Chicha Morada purple corn fruit drink (containing pineapple, apple, lime, cinnamon, clove and natural sugar). Based on the traditional Peruvian recipe, it’s thought to be the only beverage of its kind in the UK. So, here are the seven most crucial stages of rebranding, which Jon, like many others, will navigate through.
- Identify your tribe
Finding your tribe goes beyond looking at simple demographics, e.g. gender, age, income and education. It delves deeper into their attitudes, behaviours, likes and dislikes and it’s these insights that help to tell the brand story in a way that truly engages and drives purchase. The process can be as methodical or intuitive as you choose. The range of techniques vary from specific metric-driven research methodologies to building a ‘best guess’ detailed pen portrait of who you think your tribe is, then organising pop-up stores where you think your tribe lives and works to see how well they engage with your brand. Aim to have 1000 conversations with them to help validate or throw out your assumptions!
2. Figure out your drink’s primary occasion
It’s time to go back to basics and figure out exactly when your beverage will be consumed. What time of day would your audience drink it and why? Is it a refreshing drink? Is it a mixer? Is it a healthy, smoothie alternative they would have with their lunch? You also have to make sure the ‘occasion’ occurs often enough. There may be more than one, but choose the most frequent one. At this stage you could create mini samples to test with consumers for various different occasions.
3. Establish the key purchase-driver
Ask yourself, how can you differentiate your product and will this drive purchases? Now you’ve figured out which tribe will love your drink, ask yourself what will my product do for this group that none of the competitors are doing? Are they buying it for its health benefits? If so, does your label need to emphasise the science behind it?
Amaize founder Jon says this was particularly difficult. “It’s been hard to understand who to aim my product at because it’s unique to the UK market, so there’s nothing to compare it to,” he says. “It’s a Peruvian national drink, going back thousands of years, so we’ve decided to create a new label celebrating the cultural aspects of the drink with more of a distinctive character of Peru.”
Both his drinks have health benefits so there are various angles Jon could choose to emphasise. “Purple corn is very high in anthocyanins (the natural pigment that gives corn its colouring) which has anti-oxidant effects,” he says. “The formulation for Chicha Morada also contains bromelains, the natural decongestant found in pineapple which has digestive properties, but this isn’t scientifically proven so we have to be careful.”
The legislation around health claims needs to be taken into account – a low-risk way to market it could be ‘rich in anti-oxidants which are known to help with xx.’ Although the fact Chicha Morada is made from maize is a clear point of differentiation, as Jon points out, its Peruvian history and super-food qualities are likely to be bigger purchase drivers.
4. Write your ‘adcepts’
Once you know your tribe, your occasion and your purchase drivers, come up with 3 or 4 different punchy one-line concepts to sum up your drink’s ‘value proposition’. At Delicious Labs we would then test those different ‘adcepts’ on at least three carefully targeted groups of 3-4 people. The focus would be on in-depth, qualitative research to understand their opinions and motivations.
5. Devise new packaging options
At this stage, you can start working either with a specialist packaging agency or at Delicious Labs there is a team of in-house designers who would produce 5-7 different types of packaging to establish which would most inspire purchase and support the proposition. There are a wealth of factors to consider: colours, fonts, packaging size, can vs bottle, whether the new logo will work in multiple formats, how the customer will interact with the pack, whether you need different packaging for the UK and abroad, distribution logistics etc.
- Do competitor testing
It’s important to understand the sensory and product space you want to own in order to create the most impactful USP. When testing the competitor set with the target consumer listen to how the consumer talks about the product in terms of aroma, colour and flavour. Behavioural science is a practice favoured by Delicious Labs to understand the emotive drivers which result in consumer choices. When testing your products with your target audience, always put them on a table next to a competitive set, to see if yours stand out from the crowd and appeal to your focus group.
- Fine-tune your product and go re-launch!
Now with the consumer feedback in, it’s time to make the final decision on the new packaging and the logo. As a business founder you’ll be very close to your product, often swamped with advice by friends and family, but an agency can help you unlock the mind of your consumer. The valuable insights we gain from listening enable us to optimize our product offering from aroma through to artwork. This detail results in maximising early engagement but more importantly retention of consumers driving growth. As Jon from Amaize says, “Sometimes you just need to let go of your ego and listen to a fresh, unbiased opinion.”
For help with launching or rebranding see www.deliciouslabs.com
For more info on Jon’s Chicha Morada and Purple Cola see www.amaizedrinks.com