Did a decade of data science make it easier to ditch the brown?

If you don’t move with the consumer, you become irrelevant to the consumer.

Founded by the technologists behind Lovefilm in 2008, Graze saw an opportunity in the FMCG sector to apply fulfilment and data technologies to the food industry to bring products to market in ways more often seen in the fast-moving fashion industry.

As a data-led business, which receives over 350,000 ratings from our “Grazers” every month, we found our own particular way to evolve our products in collaboration with our customers.

This strategy served us particularly well when we entered the US market in 2013 by enabling us to launch and withdraw a couple of new products every week. By following the trends in our data we were able to localise 50% of our range in the first six months of launching and learnt a lot about the US market in the process. Tip: don’t ever launch mango chutney in the States!

The brand conundrum

However, despite launching more than 1,600 snacks over the course of 10 years, more recently we started to realise that developing our brand identity was a very different process to how you evolve your product line.

Traditionally, we have always done a lot of our creative activity in-house. We have our own design studio and enjoy owning the brand and being able to move quickly.

This capability is particularly important when operating across digital channels and in a market where performance is driven through significant creative testing.

However, with a very busy team and lots of ideas it was difficult to know where to start when it came to considering a brand refresh.

Snacking reimagined

The answer was to get some help so we employed the help of leading creative agency, Jones Knowles Ritchie.

The key objective of our rebrand was to help customers reimagine the way they snack by challenging the negative perceptions around snacking.

Most health brands want to project a wholesome image which affects various branding choices such as logo, choice of name, colours and illustrations. This is all very well and good, but consumers actually told us that they equated this style of brand with compromising on enjoyment.

They didn’t see the healthy choice as the exciting choice and the way our own brand chose to portray itself was not helping matters.

Bigger, bolder, better?

As part of our work with JKR, they pointed out that when you squinted at a supermarket aisle with other healthy snacking products everyone was starting to look the same.

The biggest issue was our use of brown across the brand.

While it came with a number of positives, it also conjured many of the negative connotations associated with the wholesome world of snacks. It just didn’t seem possible to do natural and exciting at the same time.

But brown had been a key part of our brand for nearly a decade – what would happen if we moved away from it?

In the end we had to trust our conviction and decided to say goodbye to brown. It was time to embrace brighter colours and bold imagery in order to really emphasise the taste and freshness of our products.

Along with the vibrant use of colour, we also opted for a modernised design to make our products more accessible to larger groups of consumers, as well as clear signposting of key health benefits and our exciting flavours to set us apart from others in the industry.

Making the choice

As a digitally driven business we have got use to progressing our strategy by making incremental improvements and using minimum viable products to de-risk big changes.

Revisiting brand identity felt like a very different type of problem.

The data was less emphatic and it required us to define where we wanted to go, rather than relying on the data – putting us in a position where we were required to make a very big decision which wasn’t necessarily a matter of right or wrong.

When it comes to reinvigorating your brand identity the use of a creative agency is certainly helpful, if only to provide the jolt needed to ask yourself these sorts of questions and JKR certainly did just that.

However, the rebrand process also provides a helpful reminder that being overly focussed on iterative data is only part of the puzzle and I for one am excited to see where this sort of thinking can take us moving forward.