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Interview: Offbeat Donut Co founder Brian O'Casey on brand development

After a career in corporate product development Brian O’Casey fully understood the importance of strong design when he was preparing to launch the Offbeat Donut Co, a story he will relate at the POPAI Marketing Conference later this week.

Prior to launch, O’Casey worked with marketer Austin McGinley to define what the Offbeat brand stood for. “This was essentially a design brief, probably the most important part of the project,” says O’Casey.

Agencies were called in to respond to the brief, with LMPP Studio appointed in December 2015 to realise the vision, with a design that incorporated physical environments and all elements of communication.

That communication needed to convey the high quality and freshness of the product – aided by the unmistakable smell of baking donuts – to fast-moving customers. “People don’t eat donuts every day, and you shouldn’t eat them every day, so we needed a location where there were high volumes of people who would treat themselves occasionally,” says O’Casey.

One of the core elements of the brand was that its products would be freshly made on-site. O’Casey spent a lot of time refining a production model that would allow high volume production in a small space. This allowed Offbeat to take on a small rail station store in central Dublin, where other retailers were finding it difficult to achieve sales high enough to justify the rents.

The difficult, narrow 600 sq ft site proved at once that the Offbeat format performed well in a high footfall environment: the company underestimated the level of demand and had sold out of product by lunchtime on its first day of trading. Subsequent weeks were spent upgrading equipment and recruiting additional staff to meet the demand. It seemed that customer had received its message loud and clear.

Six months later, Offbeat has already extended its format to a second larger branch within half a mile of its debut. The extra production capacity of the new site has also allowed the brand to open its first kiosk site – without its own bakery – this month, with two more kiosk openings planned during February. The kiosks are serviced by frequent bicycle deliveries from the larger branch, using cycles that also deliver the 10 per cent of sales which are ordered online for local delivery.

Brian O’Casey will be presenting the a seminar of developing and launching a brand at the POPAI Marketing Conference on Thursday 2 February.