• More confectionery this week; this time, walking through the brand strategy we developed from the first workshop and figuring out where there were still gaps or tensions. We got to a good place.

  • We had the great experience of a new creative territory emerging, fairly fully-formed, out of the discussion. I’ve written before about communal creativity, and how the idea of a lone creative genius is mostly a myth; I still get a thrill when you see something take shape from one person’s initial spark, another person’s build, a third person’s addition, and so on until you’ve got something that no one member of the group could have come up with themselves.

  • Two new projects hover on the horizon. The first is a juice brand, which is a super interesting category: squeezed (sorry) from the premium end by the increasing emergence of functional drinks and smoothies, and also challenged by increasing consumer savviness around sugar. The challenge for this brand is how to show up in both food service and in mainstream supermarkets, and how to balance a portfolio that contains both functional drinks and tasty ones. It’s a common problem: the brand grows organically, spreads and diversifies, and before long there’s not much that’s true of everything you do – which makes it hard to have brand-level communications.

  • The second is a supplements/wellness brand, which is part of that cultural wave that’s disrupting juices among many other categories. The challenge here is the perennial question brands like this have: how do you break out of a niche of early adopters into a larger audience?

  • And finally, from the Umami desk: we went live this week on Mahalo, a distributor that supplies hundreds of independent farm shops, delis and other food stores. It’s very exciting, although of course getting into the distributor doesn’t mean that we’re instantly in all of those stores, so there’ll still be lots of support work to do as we begin to filter through to retailers.

    I think an underestimated time-sink as a startup is how each new point of distribution you add increases the general level of complexity in the business. More relationships to manage, more sources of information, more points of failure.

    I think it’s why the UK grocery market, being so consolidated, is actually an enabler of innovation. It’s possible to be a national brand with significant awareness and have only two or three customers, which makes for a simple operation – but of course the trade-off is that your eggs are in relatively few baskets.