Denzel's Founders
Denzel's founders James and Nathan - and Denzel!

Branding is extremely important. One of the first rules you’ll learn as an entrepreneur is that branding is more than just a logo. It’s more than your website. It’s more than the sign above your door. It’s all encompassing – how you talk, how you act, and even how it makes your customers feel.

The guys behind healthy dog snack start-up Denzel’s know exactly how important getting the right brand is.

Twenty-somethings Nathan Perry and James Lacy launched Denzel’s in 2018 after obtaining animal science degrees and working in the pet food industry for more than a collective ten years.

But as well as innovating, the canine-loving duo also wanted to educate.

“Working in the industry, we noticed there was a gap in the market for healthy dog snacks,” Nathan takes up the story. “The focus was on wet food and most of the mass market dog snacks available were calorie-high, had lots of sugar, and the packaging wasn’t really explaining what they were made from very well. We wanted to create something that was 100% transparent.”

Denzel’s have cornered the market with their healthy semi-moist baked chew, combining weird and wonderful flavours and using fresh wonky fruit from local suppliers. But it’s the brand that’s helping to stand them apart from their competitors.

After receiving support from Virgin StartUp, Nathan and James enlisted the help of a top illustrator to emulate some of the brands that they’ve grown up with. Together, they’ve brought James’ chocolate cocker spaniel Denzel to the masses.

Denzel has his own persona. He’s a superhero. He’s a policeman. He’s a wizard, a chef, a gym buddy, a traveller. And the guys have big plans for him.

Nathan added: “The pet industry is so emotive. We wanted to create a character – a vehicle to communicate with people. Something that wasn’t us. We wanted to create a whole world linked to our brand.

“It also gives us a laugh. We enjoy it and hope our customers do too. I think it definitely resonates with people. People have bought into the idea. We see kids trading some of the educational cards we put in the packs like stickers.

“Pet food companies have a lot of disadvantages, like the fact that it’s harder to get in front of consumers to sample our products. But you have to make up for that. We think a deep brand is helping, particularly with this new generation of dog owners who may be starting a family a bit later in life these days.

“We got into the brand very early on. We like the Virgin brand and have seen a lot of the start-ups that are part of the Virgin community that we like so we wanted to be part of it.”

Just a few months after launching, Denzel’s is being stocked in major stores in the UK, Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Their next step is to hit the shelves of larger grocery stores – as well as keeping things fun with a new dog bar in Berkshire.

Nathan and James spoke more about their Virgin StartUp journey and what makes a good brand at our latest MeetUp event in London. Make sure you don’t miss out on our next event by grabbing a ticket today.