The founders of drinks brand, Berczy, took the bold move to rebrand and rename their startup. We find out why, and how they went about it.
It’s time for your startup brand to be all about: you. As we discovered at our MeetUp last year, having a strong narrative at the heart of your brand can help set you apart from faceless corporates. As founders, we often find our own stories entwined with our startups’ missions, and if we make our startup brands personal, they’re often stronger for it.
For Nick Graham, founder of alcoholic sparkling drinks brand, Berczy, his story began with one fateful trip to Toronto, Canada.
“About two years ago, I went on a trip to Toronto with friends to see my twin brother, who had recently emigrated there. Whilst we were over there, we went into a store to pick up some drinks for the evening, and were introduced to the concept of a ‘hard seltzer’. Spirits mixed with sparkling water and a fruity flavouring, this concept is popular in Canada - and it was certainly popular with us that night. So, we wanted to bring a taste of that back to the UK market.
“With Berczy, we vow to recreate for our customers that buzz we felt while sitting with a couple of drinks in the famous Berczy Park that night: the calming sound of the famous fountain, the backdrop of a slowing city, and the buzz of a summer’s evening.”
Back in the UK, Nick and his co-founders set about building the direct-to-consumer proposition, of what was then initially called NATRL, for customers to have a taste of their Berczy summer’s night.
Nick and his team focused on getting the drinks sold through different routes to market, such as garden centres, farm shops and delis, and they learnt a lot about how to secure necessary funding, the road to raising and building a customer base.
But then, in what might often be deemed a risky business move once your product has already launched, the team decided it was time for a rebrand.
How was Nick confident that rebranding was the right decision and not one that might break - rather than make - the business?
Trusting the data
“When we thought back to our learnings over the first six months of business, and we digested the data sets from a 2,500 person sampling survey we carried out, we realised rebranding was the right choice to help us on a few fronts. It helped us bring our founding story of that night in Berczy Park to life; the strong brand story would help us stand out in a rapidly-moving market; we were sure it would lend the brand to a more global audience in the future.”
Rebranding carries a risk of alienating customers who have already formed a connection with your brand. There are countless cautionary tales from corporate rebrand history, from Tropicana and Pepsi, through to Gap and Netflix, which all involved screeching u-turns after investing heavily in new logos or marks.
How did this nimble startup mitigate the risks and ensure they kept their customers on side?
Berczy took customers with them on the rebrand journey
“We kept them in the loop by sending emails and asking for feedback along each step of the rebrand process. We ensured that existing customers went on the journey with us, so when we finally re-branded, the vast majority of our customers supported us.”
The process of actually rolling out a rebrand is a complex and meticulous challenge when you map out all of the ways your brand is brought to life - on and offline. Nick and the Berczy team took a methodical approach, and it paid off:
“The rebranding process actually took about 6 months to complete. We started by analysing the current market and understanding other companies’ visual identities to isolate our position.
“We then worked with an agency to build our brand vision, mission and values around our unique selling points. After that, we worked painstakingly to overhaul every single visual concept, such as social media, ads, packaging and so forth, until the Berczy brand was complete.”
So for founders considering a rebrand, what can we learn from Nick and Berczy?
Before the rebrand process:
What work do you need to put in beforehand?
Engage in a conversation with customers
“These are the people who will make your startup a success, so their views must encompass what your brand represents. Word of mouth is also the cheapest form of marketing, so if they love the brand, what’s to stop their friends and family from also loving it?”
Understand the landscape of your competition
“Have a clear understanding of who you are competing with, and what your brand needs to do to stand out. Even if your product tastes better, or functions more efficiently, consumers will frequently buy with their eyes - so, visually, your product must beat the competition.”
Have a solid understanding of your brand aspirations
“Where do you want your brand to be seen and sold? If you have a solid understanding of the place you want to get your startup to, you can ensure that your brand is optimised in a way that engages with consumers in that arena. If you are selling directly to customers, as opposed to businesses, the way your brand talks, looks and feels will be entirely different.”
During the rebrand process:
What makes a standout brand?
Be clear on what your proposition is
“Who are your customers? Who are your competitors? For what occasions will your product be used? What does ‘good’ look like in your industry?”
Work from the customer, backwards
“This is a cliché that couldn’t be more true. What are the most important things for the customer when they consider buying your product? Is it the price, look and feel, or is it perhaps the founding story? If you can understand how your customer would interact with your product, the branding process becomes so much easier to test, iterate and move forwards.”
Involve the best people
“Not everyone is a marketeer, an accountant, a lawyer and a supply chain professional - we all have limitations. So, if branding isn’t your strong point, bring someone on the journey with you who does have that experience and passion.
“Whether that be an agency, freelancer, or employee is almost irrelevant, but to find the ‘perfect’ brand for you, having those around you with the requisite experience and tenacity in getting it right for the business is imperative. It’ll pay for itself in the end!”
So, now you know how to analyse whether your startup needs a rebrand - and you know exactly how to go about it. Does Nick have any last words on how to ensure your brand embodies the sparkle of an inspiring founding story? “Once you are clear on your mission, values and proposition, the personality of your brand will be teased out,” he tells us.
“At the end of the day, your brand personality is something that your customers will relate to. So how will they relate? Is it a message of hope? Maybe just a bit of fun? Exactly what do you want them to feel?”
Watch this space for a rebrand of our own, soon!