This is our second post in a series discussing the most remarkable brand launches of the last three decades and the reasons why the newly created brands have become successful.
Our previous article analysed brand launches of Chobani – a US-based Greek yoghurt brand, TikTok – a social media network with roots in China and Fever-Tree – a premium mixer brand from the UK.
Today, we are taking a closer look at three more brands: Innocent, a British brand of smoothies and juices, Zoom, an American video communication company and BrewDog, a Scottish beer manufacturer.
To learn more about their brand strategies and messaging, read their case studies (paywall) on BrandStruck:
Innocent’s story started in 1999 when three Cambridge University friends with corporate jobs, Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright, decided to go to a music festival to sell smoothies. People who tried their drinks there were asked to vote whether the three men should quit their regular jobs and start a smoothie business by throwing their empty cups into “Yes” or “No” bins. As more customers voted yes than no, they quit their jobs and began looking for investment to launch the business. They were rejected by every single bank and investment company they talked to.
In an act of desperation, they emailed everyone they knew and asked for an introduction to someone wealthy, who might be willing to invest in their operation. This is how they met Maurice Pinto, a private investor from the US, who helped them with their initial £250,000 capital.
Key success factors
Although the Innocent founders didn’t have experience in running a business prior to launching the brand, they achieved huge commercial success. There are a few factors that contributed to the brand’s remarkable performance. Firstly, even though there are currently multiple smoothie brands on the market, this wasn’t the case when the brand was launched. Its offering was truly unique, in particular at the product level as the Innocent smoothies are and have always been made only from fresh fruit without any added sugar, cheaper juice concentrates or preservatives.
Additionally, from the very beginning, the founders were adamant that they would give 10% of Innocent’s profits to charity, which helped the brand position itself as “a good citizen” (in line with the brand’s promise: “tastes good. does good”). Interestingly, this didn’t change, even when Coca-Cola took over ownership of the brand.
Another key success factor is Innocent’s distinctive communication style and famously cheeky and light-hearted tone of voice, which has helped the brand to cut through the communication clutter. You can read more about it in one of our previous articles here.
Zoom, a video communications company, became a household name in 2020, when during the COVID-19 pandemic, its flagship product emerged as a default tool for both business and private video calls. Although 2020 accelerated Zoom’s growth exponentially, the company had already been highly successful prior to this. It was valued at $1 billion dollars in 2017 and went public in 2019.
Zoom was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, one of the key Webex (later Cisco) engineers. He left Cisco together with 40 other engineers, as he was dissatisfied with how little emphasis Cisco was placing on innovating Webex after acquiring it. Interestingly, multiple venture capital companies refused to invest in Zoom, claiming that the video communications market was already saturated. Despite this, Eric Yuan believed from the start that there was still a place for a video conferencing tool that, in the company’s words, “doesn’t suck”.
Key success factors
There is a general agreement among business analysts that Zoom has become so successful due to the fact that the product is reliable and easy to use.
Zoom can be used on any device and any operating system, launched on a browser without the need to log in first, and is so intuitive that even those who have not used any video call tools previously are able to use it without any problems. This “frictionless” experience, combined with a well-designed freemium business model, in which up to 100 people can have a 40 minute video call for free, has led to widespread adoption of the product. Other features such as meeting recordings, audio transcription, beautifying filters, the application of backgrounds, virtual whiteboards and others, are additional reasons why Zoom is perceived as more useful and more fun than other video call tools.
Another factor contributing to Zoom’s success was its approach to marketing, which was quite different from that of other tech companies focusing purely on lead generation and customer acquisition. Zoom executives understood the importance of building Zoom’s brand awareness from the beginning and invested in this area despite the company’s famous frugal spending style. Initially, Zoom’s core target audience were early adopters, based in Silicon Valley. To make the brand well-known within this group, Zoom promoted its brand with strategically placed billboards with the caption, “Video Conferencing That Doesn’t Suck”. Later, the company became a sponsor of the San Francisco NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, further increasing its visibility.
BrewDog is one of the most successful brand launch stories in recent history. The company was set up in 2007 in Fraserburgh, Scotland by two friends, James Watt and Martin Dickie and, as they like to accentuate, their dog. They started selling their beer from the back of their van at local markets and the company became one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK, now building a global presence.
Key success factors
There are two main factors that have contributed to the brand’s success. First, from the very beginning the quality of the beer produced by BrewDog was very high. The founders often emphasize in interviews that their motivation behind BrewDog was the fact that they were bored with the beers available in the UK and wanted to produce beer they themselves would enjoy drinking. They were heavily inspired by the American craft beer market and, in particular, the Sierra Nevada brand.
Second, BrewDog was initially positioned and communicated as a typical rebel brand, which helped it build brand awareness quicker. Its brand strategy is now different (it is now acting with more maturity in order to build higher brand penetration), but in the early years it was a niche challenger, disrupting the UK beer market. It used to describe itself as a ‘post-punk, apocalyptic, motherf**ker of a craft brewery’ and was applying a bold, provocative and confrontational tone of voice. In the past, the brand was building its awareness primarily through highly provocative stunts. Some more well-known examples include driving a tank in London, projecting naked pictures of the founders on the building of the Houses of Parliament and launching a 55% beer using stuffed animals (naturally deceased) as packaging.
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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.
BrandStruck is the only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.