brand-forum image

For almost 20 years Bord Bia’s Brand Forum has been drawing on world-class expertise to show how best practice marketing can practically help grow business and brands. Here’s a snapshot of what we learned at recent Brand Forum events.

In a world literally groaning under the weight of hundreds of new gin brands, Pat Rigney founder of The Shed Distillery outlined the first essential requirement for success  – to stand out from the competition. The Gunpowder Gin brand name and pack are uniquely distinctive and have given it a great start in life. The eye-catching bottle design gave it a compelling start. Their well-crafted stories (- slow distilled by hand in a medieval copper pot gin still, vapour infused with a wide range of exotic oriental botanicals overlaid with a large dollop of Irish curiosity, coupled a local ingredient in the intriguing Drumshanbo Jackalope) and relentless PR campaign, extoling the virtues of the brand and its numerous awards has paid dividend. Brand activation, bringing the botanicals to life using sampling & in-store displays, social media,( created and managed in-house) have kept the brand front and centre on and off-trade. Pat Rigney’s presentation also described the deliberate creation of a collaborative, driven, community-based culture among the Drumshanbo employees, who are now able to share in an ambitious project that has no bounds.

A similar community-based culture was evident in the Fyne Ales brand located in the Scottish highlands. Jamie Delap, founder & CEO Fyne ales  travelled internationally to seek out ideas from other craft breweries. It then commissioned an ambitious positioning study which resulted in redefining its values. The combination of emphasising local roots, pride in one’s community and ambition to match the best in the world is one that should be studied by all Brand Forum members. Points of note include the creation of a ‘movement’ around the brands facilitated by its festival FyneFest establish which has established intense loyalty with a large band of followers, who spread the word far and wide.

Tribe has excellent lessons for food business aimed at the growing millennial target group.  It’s a brand offering 100% natural wholefood, free from chemicals, preservatives and emulsifiers. Tribe starting out with high ambition, building a ‘movement’ to convert not only the supporter base but ultimately the whole world to the ‘cause’ of fight human trafficking.  Having a strong sustainable ethos, including specially sourced compostable packaging, setting up a foundation to raise money for a worthy cause and with opportunities for the supporters to become shareholders. The brand punches above its weight using well-produced but low budget video content to spread the word, further fuelled by user-generated content across all social platforms. The food business is now adopting many of the characteristics of tech start-ups, experimenting with new methods of product development, routes to market and marketing communications and Tribe epitomises this new entrepreneurial mindset.

The development of Hippeas business focused on consumer trends and identifying gaps in the snacking market. The creation of the brand initially focused on millennials, gap analysis, product quality, premium positioning and the use of witty sophisticated marketing communications. Lessons in brand building from Hippeas, focused mental & physical availability which has allowed the brand to grow quickly. The brand was only launched in 2016 and already has achieved sales in excess of £10m+ earning the title of the ‘fastest-growing snack brand in the UK’. This new millennial targeted brand is setting the pace in terms of innovative product development and marketing communications.

The Birds Eye brand was acquired by Nomad Foods in 2015. The group has annual revenues of €2.2bn, operating in thirteen Western European countries. Group CEO Wayne Hudson’s presentation to the Brand Forum demonstrated how the team turned a neglected brand round. Significantly he began with the company culture which had been demotivated by the short-term activities of the previous owners. This involved regular sharing of information about the current position and future plans at ‘town-hall’ meetings in which all staff was encouraged to take responsibility and participate. The second task was to concentrate on the inherent attributes of frozen foods that had neglected and downgraded by the previous owners. The category had been allowed to become old-fashioned and not relevant to a new generation of consumer tastes whereas it could be positioned at the cutting edge of new consumer requirements; nutritious vegetable-based food frozen within two hours of being taken from the soil for added freshness and convenience. This is exactly what Nomad did and they also restored the marketing communications budgets to realistic levels because as memorably described by Wayne; ‘a pea is just a pea unless you tell people how good it is’. Much of this work was based on detailed market research carried out among consumers and it was interesting to note that many of the new lifestyle trends which emerged from this exercise are very similar to the Bord Bia’s consumer lifestyle trends.  A further example of polishing a strong but neglected brand asset was the transformation of the jolly but old-fashioned Captain Bird’s Eye into a cool modern hunk. There are a number of vital lessons here. The first is that if a brand has invested in significant marketing communications in the past but for some reason has withdrawn that investment for ten even twenty years the previous investment remains in people’s memory structure for a very long time and can be re-activated with new marketing communications designed to be relevant to changing social conditions. By making the advertising more contemporary and by referencing contemporary concerns about food and food preparation brands can be revitalised. In the past three years, Bird’s Eye sales have increased from £350m to £420m.

While the businesses and brands are all very different, the common denominators included:

–          leaders committed not just to growth, but to achieve long term sustainable brands,

–          knowledge of the international market,

–          embracing consumer lifestyle trends, and

–          the creation of a culture that inspires a collaborative team to all plays their role in developing their business.

At the Brand Forum on the evening of Tuesday 11th February, there will be presentations from April Redmond, Global Brand Vice President Unilever; Ben Greensmith, Tony’s Chocoloney and Shenda LoughnaneDentsu Aegis. Draw on their expertise to show how best practice marketing can practically help your business and your brands. These evening events are full of energy, inspiration and challenging thinking. Click HERE to register.

For further information on Bord Bia’s Brand Forum email

From The Brand Forum team