Cumbrian Fellbred is all about supporting locally produced meat products and the farmers who care for these animals. The unique environment of the Lake District – the beautiful, hills and valleys, rich in colour and a national tourist destination hides the harsh challenges that everyone who lives in that area faces. Sometimes on a daily basis, the Great British weather unleashes it’s power, in Cumbria it’s always changeable and often harsh, but these conditions also create products with something special…a flavour like no other.
Cumbrian Fellbred was a start-up, the collaboration of 8 independent farmers who could see the value in delivering together through a single brand. The visual identity needed to convey the beauty of the landscape, with a premium, quality feel. The colour palette and brand icon needed to work really hard in the busy environments of fresh and chilled food retail.
What did I learn?
Farmers by and large aren’t looking for adulation for what they do, they’re happy to be outdoors in pretty much all weathers, they have a passion for the land and the animals that they rear.
Their knowledge of the local environment – the crops and the animals – is incredible. They tend to shy away from any type of attention, let alone a camera – both film and photography, they don’t tend to speak to the press, keeping themselves to themselves.
Like many clients, when they begin a new journey, they are nervous about the outcome, knowing that they need to do an activity doesn’t always mean that all the team (client side) are enthusiastic about undertaking the project.
It was important that every stakeholder felt comfortable with what was proposed and how we would deliver the project. The activities we needed to undertake and their collective role in contributing to the bigger picture.
There is no quick fix for this (creating a brand), it requires time. Time spent with all the people client side, ensuring the enthusiasm of earlier adopters or design advocates is maintained whilst explaining to the other members of the group the benefits that this will bring to them, on an individual level, as well as for the common good of the project.
People often talk about the importance of a single point of a contact, someone to make decisions and co-ordinate. Thankfully we had just such a person who was happy to co-ordinate, ensuring that people, products and animals were in the right places at the right times. That single point of contact was invaluable, not just for all the logistics that I’ve mentioned above, but also for information, feedback and the general day-to-day delivery of what they needed as a business.
Rain, rain go away!
A major part of the Cumbrian Fellbred story was to tell the story of what the farmers faced from Mother Nature as they tended their animals.
We were filming and photographing the farmers at work for a regional TV campaign and national press activities, but come the day of the shoot the weather decided to not to play it’s part, bathing us in bright sunshine all day.
Thankfully the film crew had the foresight to suggest a wind and rain machine at one of our initial production meetings. That foresight was invaluable, we simply couldn’t have got what we needed without that equipment on the day. Planning has always been a big part of my job, listening to experts in their field, taking best practice and advice is invaluable, and as in this case, demonstrates professionalism with every client.
On the shelf
During the early days of the products appearing on shelf it quickly became apparent that we needed to provide more supporting point of sale materials, things to tell the Cumbrian Fellbred story, so people could understand what was different about that meat.
This involved spending time with the fresh meat managers and deli counter staff, learning and understanding how the fridge space was used, what was and wasn’t permitable from a food hygiene point of view, as well as what worked with customers.
We produced a number of trial POS pieces, gaining valuable feedback and insight. This allowed us to fine-tune the whole delivery and merchandising of the product, ensuring it was well presented by the in-store teams who were very positive about the brand.
This final piece of the journey, the customer facing material is the most critical part of any brand journey, communicating what you’re offering and why it is of interest to your audience is critically important. Ensuring that the right internal communications are in place before any POS materials arrive in-store ensures that the members of that team understand and use the materials in the best possible way for them and for you, as the brand, they are displaying.
The death of a brand
The foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 affected 98% of UK cattle, this saw the untimely death of Cumbrian Fellbred. This devastating disease wiped out everything…animals, livelihoods, communities…the affects were massive, particularly in rural communities such as Cumbria where most of the population rely on farming as a source of income.
Having made significant progress over the previous 3 years, the brand was growing in popularity and broadening it’s appeal when foot and mouth arrived.
I’ve never seen this (a brand death) happen in this way before, or since, but it served to teach a harsh lesson that there are many things outside of your control that can have a huge impact on your life, your business and the relationship that you have built with your customers.
I’m pleased to say that Cumbrian Fellbred did make a come back, after a couple of tough years the brand re-established itself, concentrating on north-west (of the UK), where it enjoys a healthy reputation to this day as part of Udale foods.