I really enjoyed working with the Milk Marketing Board to re-establish this brand. Cheshire cheese is often overlooked in favour of Lancashire, Gloucester and Yorkshire in terms of styles/tastes of cheese from the UK.
The MMB wanted to develop the Cheshire brand, increase overall brand awareness and improve sales. They were looking for something synonymous with the area, something that would have broad appeal, a visual marque that consumers could identify with quickly and easily. Whilst there are many Cheshire landmarks that would lend themselves to developing this brand, I felt nothing had the breadth of appeal than the ‘Cheshire Cat’. The timeless appeal of Alice in Wonderland held connections with customers of all ages.
Whilst the Cheshire Cat is a great visual metaphor for the cheese, we had to be careful not to stray into copyright and trademarked territory. One of the main issues I had with the cat from Alice was the colour, a purple cat just wasn’t right for cheese. That helped us arrive at a marque that plays homage to the original cat, maintaining some of that cheeky, ever so feline humour, but something that was also far enough away in terms of style and colour that we wouldn’t have lawyers or patent attorney’s on our back for infringing copyright or trademark.
This part of branding is often overlooked, ensuring that you’re not treading on other toes is a really important part of developing a brand, because if someone else got there first, there’s nothing you can do about it. By the way of you haven’t registered or trademarked your brand, do it, it’s a shrewd investment in your business.
What did I learn during this project?
A major part of why I have such a passion for the work we deliver, is the opportunity to learn new things. This project taught me a lot about the customers perception of quality.
Do you buy your cheese from the cheese counter or the pre-packed chiller?
There’s often the same product in both places, but customer perception is that the cheese counter offers higher quality, fresher products. The cheese counter also wins, most of the time, as the staff are often knowledgeable about the product, enabling you to make an informed choice and even have a taste before you buy.
The number of levels at which this plays out are incredible, for example, if you’re elderly and single, having the opportunity to talk with someone on the counter influences your purchase habits. The emotions and subtle differences in what drives different groups of people to different destinations within a retail space is fascinating, and as a designer it’s something that has captivated me, helped me learn lots about how we function as people, and helped me to connect people and businesses.
Back to the cheese, establishing a new brand in the busy environment of the cheese counter was not an easy task. This is a very busy space, real estate is at a premium with cheese, meats and other deli foods often all sitting together within the same counter.
Many of the cheese products are shrink wrapped when they arrive, this presents a couple of problems. First the whole cheese round is often too big to be presented within the cabinet making it difficult for the staff to display it. So they either use the whole round to sit other smaller wedges on top of like some kind of edible table, or they cut it down to size. Any branding on the wrap itself is often partially, if not completely obscured. The second issue comes as the cheese is cut down, how do you identify what it is when there’s not much left? How did we tackle this for Cheshire? We produced food wrap (printed, baking parchment) with a repeat pattern of the logo. This was used to wrap your piece of cheese and a circular sticker (brand logo) sealed your purchase. This had two functions, first, the customer gets a nicely wrapped piece of cheese in the Cheshire wrap (increasing the perceived value) and second, the retailer can merchandise the product on the paper as well (if they choose to).
Other things in our point-of-sale armoury included product name tags, mini-flags, window cling decals (to go on the inside of the glass line), a range of recipe cards and some small, pocket sized literature about what made Cheshire cheese different, and the type of recipes that lend themselves to using it.
That was the in-store experience covered. This was backed up by internal comms to all the retailers – giving them the opportunity to learn more about the cheese, it’s provenance and production, what is tastes best with…and why along with some suggestions for how to use the POS to their advantage – presenting the brand in it’s best light without creating extra work for them.
Away from the stores, there were foodie press ads, a PR campaign including an attempt on the world record for the largest ever cheese on toast (Cheshire is particularly good for cheese on toast by the way), a host of in-store tastings and the power of the MMB website and social streams to tell people about this hidden gem.
One of the biggest learning points for me was about the ‘customer journey’, as I’ve already said there are two distinctly different options available to you as a shopper, the counter or the chiller (and these days the screen). The difference in the perception of quality, freshness and value between the two is vast.
The products are very, very similar if not the same (with slightly different packaging) but the customer journey is totally different. The need, the problem that you’re solving for those customers, the emotions that they feel as they shop that part of a store and the level of advocacy after the purchase…what they say to friends, relatives and others after they have ‘tried’ the product is HUGE.
Customer journeys are fascinating things, no two are the same and they are forever evolving. When you understand this part of your business there are some great things that can be achieved, you can add real value, connecting with people and building brand loyalty and a community…creating a buzz.