Branding: UK Agency re-brands Equinox
There’s a fascinating two-part blog posting from the Better Brand Agency in the UK. It tells the process they engaged when Equinox Kombucha approached them as a client looking for a new brand identity.
Both companies are based in the North-East of England and can claim to be leaders in their respective fields.
Indeed, Equinox are introduced as “the number one selling kombucha in the UK and Europe.”
Better Brand Agency uses a proven BetterBrandBuilder™ process that is designed to truly understand, concisely describe and distinctively visualise a brand. This begins with a Discover phase.
Part One of the blog explains why Equinox needed a brand refresh “that would help them become more than ‘kombucha’ and instead be seen as a credible, relevant soft drink that could gain mass appeal.” The creative team addressed the challenge that kombucha is unknown to most consumers. They identified some key brand characteristics that also resonated with the public:
They looked at the competitors on the shelves
Without naming which brand fits which category (we can have fun guessing, can’t we?) they categorize these as:
Kid Bucha These brand of kombucha have radioactive vibrance, cartoonish colours or childlike illustrations that feel like a kids tv channel.
Doctor Onboard These kombuchas attempt a bizarre medicinal-nautical mash-up. Often in brown glass or brown plastic bottles, they have a ‘remedy’ feel, looking more like medicine or chemicals than a soft drink. Often the iconography is poor, unsophisticated modern day clip-art.
Hippy Evangelist These kombuchas have sanitised Asian vibes, usually with the obligatory buddha / mandala / henna tattoo iconography and messages of enlightenment.
Clean and Pure Extreme minimal kombucha, total clarity meets science-led cosmetics. Often bold simplified outlines or silhouettes that allow the juice to be the star in a totally clear bottle.
Hyper Exclusive The penthouse suite of kombuchas. High end, high cost, super-premium, super minimal, a small batch alcohol aesthetic fused with olde worlde apothecary cues.
They followed this analysis with focus groups, shopper surveys and other ways to gauge consumer sentiment around the Equinox brand. The Discover phase concluded with:
… very clear directions on what to brief into the Create phase. There was a sense that kombucha as a category was natural, balancing (good for your gut) and offered a sense of healthy uplift. Equinox as a name and brand was seen as bright, its name helped to emphasise balance, tasted refreshing, feels raw and real, is organic, healthy and honest.
The second blog post restated a finding from the Discover phase that “the soft drinks chiller is under the tyrannical rule of smoothies, fizzy drinks and waters.” In contrast, Equinox is created by “rebel alchemists … committed to becoming the mainstream alternative.”
The re-branding had three objectives:
The creative objective here is to better communicate the brand proposition visually, helping Equinox to stand out and grow up, without distancing it from the existing fanbase.
The marketing objective was to broaden the appeal of Equinox to attract a new mainstream audience of people who want to make healthier choices.
The business objective was to secure enough new retail listings with mainstream suppliers to double production capacity.
Equinox is committed to brewing authentic kombucha. The brand tastes good, but the consumer needs reassuring they are not ‘the odd one out with the hippy drink.’
Bright, optimistic and grounded
The chosen “personality” (sic) of the brand is bright, optimistic, and grounded. This is defined with two keywords: Refresh and Rebalance, with the ‘strapline’ of Alive and fizzing. These keywords beat out close alternatives such as Stay sharp, Really real refreshment, and Fizzibly different (presumably in deference to words more applicable to razor blades, a well-known brand of Cola, and, er…bad puns?)
The team then did a deep-dive into custom bottle shapes, bottle cap and label design. They reviewed a whole heap of typeface & logo alternatives.
This included prototype bottle designs:
The end result included a hole in the label to let light through the bottle and create a window on the kombucha inside.
The end result was extensible across different flavors and works equally well on cans:
The new brand launched in August 2019 and the result was judged a success:
Equinox’s rebrand launched and achieved everything we set out to do. It elevated the look and feel into a more grown-up, sophisticated space. Sales have doubled in key locations.
The Better Brand Agency and Equinox have done a great service to all kombucha brands by sharing the story of their re-branding journey. No matter if a company hires an agency or rolls their own brand identity, there’s tremendous value in studying the process they engaged in up Yorkshire way.