When developing a brand in an oversaturated market, it is important to do things differently. We spoke to Adam French of whey’d – producers of sustainable, 100% grass-fed whey protein – and discovered why startups should simplify and not multiply.

My name is Adam French and I’m the founder of whey’d Protein. whey’d provides people an easier access to sustainable, pure, high-quality whey protein sourced from Irish, GMO-free grass-fed dairy. We buck the trend by offering people unedited access to where we source our whey from, and we give back to charity for every purchase made on our site.

We appeal to people that want whey sourced from the best dairy available, as well as people that are conscious about purchasing from a brand with a mission to give back and protect our environment.

We have perfectly portable and easy-to-use sachets, as well as larger bags for at-home use.

Developing the whey’d brand

The sports supplement market, and more specifically the whey protein powder market, is already oversaturated, so entering this market was going to need a different approach and a VERY strong brand that stood out for the right reasons (and a compelling belief that we had the best product!).

whey’d does things differently to the other players in our market. For instance, we don’t advertise our whey as “diet whey” or “women’s whey”, as this is marketing trickery designed to charge the consumer more for the same product. It was therefore important that our branding was gender-neutral and appealed to a wider target market – not just bodybuilders or athletes.

First up, I worked closely with a small design agency, Flourish Studios, on a simple name that does what it says on the tin. We also worked together to give the brand a fresh, minimalistic look that reflects our clean, pure whey product. The market norms show topless men and bikini-clad women all over the place, which we felt didn’t appeal to the growing demographic in this sector, i.e. the average gym goer, tennis player or morning runner. We therefore opted for a simpler brand and packaging design, which our customers would be proud to use at their work desk or at the gym.

The majority of the design process for our branding involved removing as much of the information as possible – leaving the key USPs to explain why whey’d is the best. Our product sits at the premium end of the market. This is because we opt to source our whey from the best dairy available (our cows graze outside longer than any other cows in the northern hemisphere – 80% of the year!). So we needed to ensure that people would quickly understand the concept (that whey’d is a high-quality, premium product) within the first few seconds of seeing our brand and packaging.

My top tips for working with an agency is to give them as much information about the message you’re trying to get across as possible, as well as a detailed profile of your customer. Trust me, giving them too little information and then receiving initial concepts that are way off-point just wastes everyone’s time!

We’re really proud of the look, feel and design of our final brand and the customer feedback so far has been amazing – justifying all those back-and-forth reiterations.

My biggest pieces of advice to keep in mind when branding are to always have more than one option to consider, and to think about the end consumer when you’re comparing them. What will their reaction be? Will they understand your brand and its values? Creating a brand that you think looks cool, but just doesn’t fit with the brand message you’re trying to get across, is not going to work.

One of my favourite quotes is:

“Simplify – don’t multiply.”

In this modern world, less is always better. Brands try to be too complicated and cram all of the information onto their packaging. But sleek, simple and to the point always wins the race, in my opinion.

Other useful advice that I’ve picked up along the way is not to be frightened to look at other companies’ branding and packaging design to give you ideas (even if it’s just to see what not to do!). I used to go to shops such as Whole Foods and Planet Organic, as they both represent many healthy and ethical brands. My phone is still full of hundreds of photos of product packaging and most of the time I ended up buying them as well, just because I liked their branding!

Branding’s impact on the business

I feel it’s been pivotal in giving us the attention we need in an oversaturated market. Having a brand people are proud to ‘show off’ has meant that it’s been shared a lot across social media – especially Instagram. Rarely will you see people posting photos of other whey protein brands, but on a daily basis people are snapping shots of whey’d sachets at their gym, desk or even on a beach!

We’re also working with professional athletes and sports teams, which I genuinely think we wouldn’t be doing if we didn’t have a brand that appeals to them. I’m also sure that our work with hotels, such as Claridge’s, wouldn’t have happened if our branding wasn’t clean and sophisticated.

Our brand has therefore been a great marketing piece in itself, helping to organically grow whey’d and get the traction we need.

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