This Brand’s Visual Makeover Drove a 200% Increase in Sales
Imagine this: You have a fantastic product – it’s been tried and tested with rave reviews. Customers love it, retailers want to carry it, and you’re actually making sales! But something’s off. Despite getting great initial feedback, you notice sales aren’t where they should be. This is the exact situation Kelly and Robert Ison, co-founders of Einstein Pets, found themselves in early last year.
Looking for a solution, the team did two things many entrepreneurs don’t want to do – they asked their retailers what was wrong… and they listened. To their surprise, the retailers explained that employees felt they had to work too hard to sell the product, rather than the product speaking for itself straight from the shelves.
This immediately set alarm bells off in Kelly’s head. What good would it do to have such a fantastic product if no one wanted to buy it?
Gathering feedback to pinpoint the problem
After realizing that their product just wasn’t working as is, Kelly and Robert went back to the drawing board. Literally.
“It all starts with the voice of the consumer,” explains Kelly of the brainstorming process.
“We were constantly asking for feedback – good, bad, or indifferent – we just wanted to hear what people had to say. We took their feedback and put it on a big whiteboard.” First, the co-founders looked at the positives. “We knew we had a great product because that was the feedback that we were getting,” explains Kelly.
The co-founders had good relationships with their retailers and when people tried the product they liked it.
Now for the negatives. “[Retailers] thought that Smart Cookee just wasn’t a standout name. Consumers were buying our product because they liked the logo, not because of the name itself.” The couple soon came to realize that if the product was well-liked but still wasn’t selling then the issue probably stemmed from the branding itself.
Getting to know their competitors
Over the next several weeks, Kelly and Robert continued to narrow down what consumers were saying, distilling the feedback into actionable changes. The duo also took a look at competing brands in order to gain a better understanding of what made them successful.
“We went to the dog boutique stores where we thought we’d be selling in and we went to the bigger [retailers] as well,” says Kelly. “We went to the PetSmarts and the PetCos of the world to see what packaging was out there. We did our due diligence by going through these stores and looking at bags [and buying them].” The couple felt that going through this exercise allowed them to see pet products through the eyes of the consumer. They were able to gauge what successful pet food brands looked like on the shelves, what made them stand out, and what they were doing in terms of packaging that the couple were or weren’t already doing themselves.
When it came to the packaging, they began to notice a few trends. “We started looking at other products on the shelf similar to ours,” says Kelly. “We realized that the bags were generally bigger and they were pre-printed. At that point, we knew we had to decide what it was we wanted to do. Did we want to move forward with the product as-is, or do a rebranding? We chose to do a rebranding.”
In addition to checking out their competitors, Kelly and Robert also looked towards agencies for inspiration. “We would contact marketing and design firms and they would send us bags hoping to get business. We took those bags and said, ‘Okay, this is what it looks like when they initially start the process. Here’s what it looks like in the end.’” To Kelly, this was a great way to understand an agency’s design process.
Kelly knew she had to make a drastic change, which was hard because she and her husband had put their hearts and souls into the brand.
It’s all in the name
Based on feedback from retailers, Kelly threw out the old name and started anew. “We went from Smart Cookee to Einstein Pets,” she explained. “Once we decided [on the new name], we asked ourselves, ‘What does that mean?’ It really was a nod to our dog Abbey, a Westie (West Highland Terrier) we had adopted and the reason we started the business in the first place. Westies are known to be very intelligent dogs, so that’s how we came up with the new name. From there, our packaging was really [the result of] my husband’s design skills.”
Redesigning the logo
A creative at heart, Kelly’s husband had already whipped up a logo they felt conveyed the spirit of their brand: a cartoon version of their four-legged friend. While the core elements of the logo did not change, they simplified it and updated it with the new brand name.
As Kelly revealed above, Einstein Pets’ prior packaging, just wasn’t working for retailers. Something they took extremely seriously.
“The goal for us was not only to match [the feedback] we were hearing but to make [selling our product] less of a job for retailers,” says Kelly.
Previously five ounces, the bags were simple, aluminum-backed clear packages with a minimalistic white label glued to the center front. While there’s something to be said for transparency, the old packaging just wasn’t doing it for retailers or consumers alike.
After much research, an idea was born. With a checklist in mind, they knew exactly what they wanted their bags to look like
…makes way for new packaging
“We wanted to show off our formulas and what our recipes were about. The color [of each package] needed to represent exactly what the product was. So if it’s Peanut Butter and Jelly-flavored, for example, then we went with purple because we felt the plum color was indicative of that.”
As for the actual package dimensions, the co-founders decided to upgrade their bags from five to eight ounces based on their competitive research. In the end, Kelly and Robert were able to create a sleek, colorful, eye-catching package that made it clear to retailers and consumers that its contents couldn’t be a better choice for pets.
Tallying up the costs
Einstein Pets’ transformation was different than most. The founders did the bulk of the work themselves. Kelly and her husband only approached agencies to print the final product onto bags.
As for the cost? “[We spent] about $20,000 but that’s not including the [trade shows] that we knew we would have to go to to get our [new] name out there. [For something like Global Pet Expo], you’re looking at another $3,000 to $5,000.”
The bulk of the costs associated with a rebranding is the making of a new product. “Whether you’re looking for something as simple as a logo redesign or as elaborate as a full company rebrand, that can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000,” reveals Kelly. And the buck doesn’t stop there. Relaunching can mean a whole other set of costs with a marketing agency costing upwards of $3,000 a month.
One thing Kelly advises any brand owner to do to keep costs as low as possible is to keep control. Don’t just write a blank check and have a firm do the rest. Break the work up into chunks so that you can really understand what aspects of your business need a re-do. “Only farm out what you cannot do yourself,” Kelly advises.
Launching the new and improved product
Once their product was ready, Kelly and Robert went to work getting the word out to as many people as possible. They wrote press release after press release, they launched a social media strategy, they even tapped into some local influencers for help.
“We [got into] Pet Business and [several other Pet trade publications] which allowed us to get picked up by the local press. We increased our sales in Florida just by announcing our new look [through the press].”
Kelly was also very smart about timing, ensuring the right amount of buzz was generated right around the time of SuperZoo, the biggest pet expo in the world. By the time the show came around, Einstein Pets had captured the hearts of both trade and the wholesale customers. “We took a lot of international and domestic orders during that time,” she boasts.
The plan was always to increase sales by at least 100 percent but Einstein Pets saw a whopping 200 percent increase in sales after relaunch. All of this, a direct result of listening to their consumers, amending their product packaging accordingly, launching at the right place and right time, and having a plan in place for any contingencies.
One such contingency was the increased growth. Something Kelly says many new business owners don’t account for. “There are some steps you have to take to understand whether or not you’re ready to go to a manufacturer.
“If you can’t produce 10,000 to 15,000 pounds every other month, most dog food manufacturers won’t work with you because you’re too small. You have to understand that if you do grow, how long will it take once you reach an agreement with that manufacturer. Once we grew at SuperZoo we knew it was time to find a new, bigger manufacturer that could help us keep producing our recipes [and keep up with the new demand].”
In the end, Kelly and Robert were prepared, no matter the outcome. And as it turns out, they got way more than they bargained for with Einstein Pets becoming more successful than ever!
Want to see a redesign in action? Hubba is conducting a design experiment. We’re picking 1 lucky winner to have their logo redesigned by 4 different companies. We’ll follow their story and learn about how agencies deliver more than just pixels. Get your entry in by Monday, July 23, 2017!
Follow her at @D_isforDayana
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