It was a full house at Melbourne’s Arts Centre for the annual Food & Drink Business + PKN LIVE breakfast forum, where guests, speakers and an industry panel shared new ideas and insights on what it means to be a brave brand.
Brand Opus managing director Nikki Moeschinger opened the forum with her keynote address in which she outlined brands as mysterious, intangible and visceral things, which in their most basic form, are a shortcut for consumers.
“A good brand is a feeling, a smile in the mind,” Moeschinger said. “A well-managed brand immediately and subconsciously taps into a range of associations within the minds of our target market.”
“Brands save us time. We buy the brand our mum used to buy. We buy the brand a friend recommended. Brands guide us when our knowledge is imperfect, or non-existent.”
She drove home the point that to be successful brands need to be disruptive, meaningful and memorable in the way they communicate and connect to the market.
Following Moeschinger was Daylight Agency managing director Chris Gray, who highlighted the attributes of brave brands, how bravery can deliver growth, and an example of the agency’s own client, Almond Breeze, adopting brave actions to achieve strong results in the highly competitive Australian beverage market.
A brave brand is one that has a willingness to leap into the unknown, said Gray, yet does not mean to do things foolishly or in a haphazard manner – “it’s about a way of thinking.”
“It’s about ways we can evolve in business and often it’s the small tweaks that make the difference,” said Gray.
“Brave brands have a defined purpose. When you have a bold purpose, your stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders – they start to go along with that purpose, and they start to understand what’s working in the marketplace.”
“Brave brands know their customers deeply and engage with them on an emotional level. It will work far better for you. Speak to their heart… use emotional language as much as you can. The logical part of the brain will make every decision with the emotional part of the brain,” Gray said.
Matthew Hurle, co-founder of brand activation platform Brandcrush, was the third speaker for the morning, sharing with the audience how his company is helping brands go beyond a Google click and reach consumers where they live, work and play.
Experiential marketing is a $100 billion industry gaining momentum, Hurle said, “because in this digital world, we humans are craving physical interactions”.
Hurle revealed 73 per cent of consumers are likely to buy a product after trying it, while 60 per cent of people will pay more for a brand after experiencing it first-hand, and 59 per cent of consumers tell their friends after receiving a free sample.
Hurle said many brands have been leaning into the virtual world but brave marketers are doing the opposite to achieve cut-through, results and revenue by maximizing the experiential marketing sector.
Industry panel shares experience on being a brave brand
The final session of the day saw Food & Drink Business editor Kim Berry moderate a panel of brave brands from across the food and beverage industry.
Featuring Cameron Prowse from The Alt Meat Co, Teresa Cutter from The Healthy Chef, Nicole Ohm from Brownes Dairy Company, and Natalie Moubarak from +hemp, the panel delved into how they individually pushed boundaries, overcame challenges, and navigated their brand with brave moves to achieve their status today.
For Moubarak, the path to establishing +hemp started with her thorough involvement in the hemp industry and seeing whether the Australian market could follow a similar path of legalisation that the UK and US experienced years ago.
“I formulated the product and spent a lot of money and time prior to hemp being legalised and did a lot of the brand and packaging hoping that it would be passed through. It was a big risk,” she said.
When it comes to an established brand with a rich history such as Brownes Dairy however, being brave is operated through different tactics. Ohm said that one of the major themes prevalent for Brownes was sustainability.
“Sustainability is here to stay, and for us as a dairy company, it is particularly uncomfortable to be talking in that space, but we have no choice but to take the small steps we can,” she said.
“Partnering with Tetra Pak to bring these renewable cartons into Australia and being the first to do that was uncomfortable.”
“It was a necessary step and at the same time, if you’re going to be active in this space, we have to be vocal about being active and making it count.”
(See our exclusive interview with Brownes and Tetra Pak here.)
Cutter highlighted that in the competitive and rapidly growing sector of functional foods, The Healthy Chef stemmed initially from her own health needs and expanding into a range now that can benefit a mass group needing similar, functional solutions.
“Trust in the brand is the most important thing and we treat the customer how we want to be treated, so it’s very personalised,” said Cutter.
“In developing the range, we made sure it was simple, fresh and that we had full control of our product to be able to scale into a franchise.”
In the plant-based protein market, Prowse said bravery presents itself in a number of ways for The Alternative Meat Co, such as partnering exclusively with Coles, delivering stock in recyclable pallets, and going to extra mile for adjacent opportunities.
“We’re a small company on the Central Coast, we really believe in being ‘grown not bred’, and we’ve stuck by our principles and activating on the ground level, and are prepared to go the extra mile,” said Prowse.
“Having a story, believing in it and being genuine is really important, so being upfront and acknowledging some aspects – such as for us, our packaging is less than ideal – and asking the customer to come on the journey with us is important as we grow and change.”