One morning, I checked my email to find an interesting email that had questions about rebranding a company.
A dog company to be exact.
I replied and soon found myself on the phone with Karen Miller, the owner of Highmeadow Farms that makes a premium line of fresh food for dogs, in fact food that is good enough for humans to eat.
Here’s this week’s One Minute Wednesday that sets the stage:
Very soon, I was forced to pull out my red cape and began to work with Karen and dive into her company’s potential.
Rebranding a Company: Reality Check
When we started to discuss the company and why customers would want their product (knowing this was a very crowded category starting with Purina and Fresh Pet to too many to mention), I listened to what Karen was saying.
Soon, I heard what wasn’t being said:
They made and sold dog food, yes. Only problem: this was a lifestyle brand, not a product line.
I started to deconstruct and reverse engineer the brand and saw, their story was off the mark because they were too close to the product.
This is a syndrome I call “the beautiful baby syndrome.” They know their kid’s the most beautiful baby in the world and that somehow, its beauty should be obvious to everyone along with its inherent ability to bring world peace, despite one detail they can’t see: the baby has five eyeballs. It’s something I first alluded to in my landmark article on rebranding.
What’s in a Name? Everything.
So the first area of attack was the name.
Zeroing in on the demographic, economic status, and lifestyle of their customers, I recommended we change the name to position it as a superior culinary offering. That recommendation? Napa Fresh Food for Dogs.
When you hear Napa, it immediately conveys Napa Valley and lovely images of delicious food, scenic views, excellent wine and much more.
We added another dimension with the slogan, “Earth’s Most Civilized Food For Dogs.” The right slogan is the secret sauce that helps crystallize a brand’s message as covered here.
Then, it was developing their brand story. Here’s a snippet:
NAPA is as much a location as it is an inspiration.
As lifelong dog owners, we asked ourselves:
“When did our best friends deserve to eat something we wouldn’t feed to our worst enemy?”
This passion resulted in converting our little farm into a sanctuary of freshness, quality ingredients, and health, all in a setting like no other.
The result is New England’s most delicious and nutritious hand-crafted meals for dogs, made in small batches in our kitchen, using only fresh whole foods, meats and vegetables we would just as gladly serve to our most beloved canine friends as to our favorite human ones.
Then we began to add more visual story to capture the lifestyle we were portraying. This took place on the packaging and the translucent “wine bags” that would house the product:
This even impacted how the biscuits are now presented in their own tin:
And there are numerous other places the brand will now live:
Karen Miller has a contagious energy that is second to none. We immediately hit it off. I asked her a few questions, and here’s what Karen said about rebranding a company and taking it to the next level.
Was there a shift in how you saw your brand after the initial phase of your rebrand: the brand story?
KM: Absolutely! We began to see our brand from the outside in, not from the inside out. This was a major shift for us.
How did you see your brand before — and how do you see it now?
KM: We had it partially right. Our product, fresh dog food, was in a class all its own, and we had a great following. However, our brand did not reflect what our product really was – a healthy, hand-crafted alternative to the nationally mass-produced dog foods found on grocery store shelves that contained far inferior ingredients and caused health problems over time. Now our brand is a true reflection of what our product actually is. It is no longer ho-hum.
What was the biggest shift in how you see your brand in the world now versus before the rebrand?
KM: David caused us to realize that a brand is much more than a logo. The logo and the name is just the beginning, but it must stand above the rest; it must rise above as David impressed upon us. We feel that our brand does that now. It is like no other. Our old logo did not reflect who we were or what we represented to the outside. It was bland.
Through working with David, we were forced to look at every single aspect of our business, every single touch point, every interaction with our customer, and how to have an even greater impact, how to be certain that we demonstrate to every single customer how important they are to us. We already had the product, but we needed more.
I made a comment “you’re not in the dog food business.” How did that impact how you saw your company and what did you discover about your brand and company as a result?
KM: As mentioned before, there is a huge difference in branding and marketing from the outside in, instead of the usual inside out. How customers see you and your product is the way to grow a business; you must see it that way to grow and to succeed. We discovered that we were a lifestyle brand, not a dog food company. That was the biggest revelation to our business.
I need to expand on looking at the David Brier influence, which is a whole lot more than an outstanding logo, and a great brand story.
Looking from the outside in caused us to really analyze the customer experience in ways we had not considered before, because we never realized that our brand was a lifestyle, and that we were not selling dog food. Your potential clients need to realize that they are getting an entire business makeover by working with you. You, my friend, are much more than a branding expert. You give much more than a brand makeover.
Thank you Karen for a fantastic ride and joyful revolution.