The Story of How we Built a New Brand from a Blank Sheet of Paper

One of the things I’ve noticed from teaching marketing around the world is that some people panic when faced with a blank sheet of paper, or indeed their mind goes blank, daunted by where to start.

Not me, I see a world of possibility and a golden opportunity to construct something new. It’s not often you get to build a brand from the ground up, so when were asked to help create a new fine food and delicatessen brand we jumped at the chance. Sitting down with the founder of the business and champion of the new venture we came to understand what his driving beliefs were and why he wanted to set the brand up in the first place. The whole process was highly collaborative but we started by just listening.

It turned out that he had a passion for fine food and had been looking to find a way to build his dream of owning and running a delicatessen. Although he was an experienced businessman in other fields he’d spent six months working behind the deli counter at Fortnum and Mason to learn the trade. In conversation it became clear what kind of business he wanted to run, driven by taste and a passion for discovering and supporting fine food producers.

Once we had an idea of what sort of place he envisaged we started capturing that in the form of a tried and trusted brand-positioning outline. We focussed on the different consumer segments at different occasions and played around with how were going to appeal to as broad a spectrum of potential customer groups as we could on those different occasions throughout the week.

We looked at it from a higher level – why were we doing this, and we looked at it from the granular level of customer experience and types of food. At points we found it easier to articulate what sort of place we did not want it to be (no Shoreditch beards) and that helped to shape and frame the development conversation.

Exploring analogous brands and adding pictures to the words with associated imagery allowed us to put some parameters around what we felt the brand experience should look and feel like too.

After a number of iterations we had a working “best current thinking” brand book that laid out the fundamentals of what we felt the brand was all about.

This then formed the basis of a brief to the design team to create a brand logo. Together we explored the use of animals to give the logo character we were looking for, something that had fine food connotations as well as local relevance. Pigs were briefly allowed to fly, but given the deli was to be based in Bucks that quickly narrowed it down to the Aylesbury duck. Hence we arrived at the new logo using a particular shade of purple to give our duck a rich and distinctive feel.

From those fundamentals of the brand positioning, brand experience and logo we were then able to build out the website, and execute the identity across business cards, letterheads, store signage as well as menus. We created at a tag line that summed up the proposition in a nutshell “Discover fine food and coffee in the heart of Beaconsfield” that allowed us to focus our communications further. It was a delight to see all the elements of the brand brought to life when the store opened its doors last year.

The important aspect of this sort of exercise is to recognise that even when faced with a blank sheet of paper there are still enough raw materials to work with in terms of driving beliefs, values, location and vision that can be built out into a new brand that has authenticity. It is not always easy to articulate what the brand will stand for straight away, but by working collaboratively and iteratively the ideas have the freedom to emerge and evolve along the way.

What was also clear was that by taking the time to pinpoint and capture the brand fundamentals in the first place, rather then jumping in, the execution and activation of that idea across many different elements of the customer experience became so much easier.

Smith & Kittle Fine Food Store and Coffee House opened in late 2015. If you are passing that way I strongly recommend that you drop in. They do a lovely cup of coffee.

If you need help with a tricky brand-building challenge then please get in touch.

Steve Purnell