'Colour & Advance' is an exercise, originally created by improv consultancy 'On Your Feet', to help brand builders think about their brand's story. It’s about categorising ideas for our brand's narrative in one of two ways: those ideas that add the detail, richness and layers to our story - colour, and those ideas that advance a story - provide progress or an improvement on what we've had before - advance. No one ingredient is more important than the other – both are essential for our brand.
Seedlip is the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. Developed with botanists, distillers and historians to solve the “what-to-drink-when-you-are-not-drinking” dilemma. On the one hand they offer us colour, Seedlip is a soft-drink presented to us as a premium spirit, with all the visual codes and cues we associate with the world’s finest spirits brands.
There's a rich back story of a recipe inspired by ‘The Art of Distillation’ published in 1651, there's the customary garnish - 'a squeeze and slice of grapefruit’, there's the packaging - foiling on the label that conveys a premium-ness and sophistication only seen in the upper echelons of the Gin and Vodka world. All are cues borrowed from spirits that bring colour and richness to the dull world of non-alcoholic mixers like colas or cordials.
We interviewed the founder of Seedlip, Ben Branson for The Challenger Project soon after their launch and, just like the brand exercise, he was keen to stress that challengers need to provide genuine ‘advance’ not just the ‘colour’ associated with the details or a brands aesthetic.
“Challenging something means you have to find something that needs changing. But we're busier people. There are more brands. There are more screens. There's more to do. Therefore, unless you're solving someone's problem or making people's lives better you’re never going to have that traction” said Ben.
In this case, Seedlip’s ‘advance’ is to bring a product to market that provides a healthier, no sugar alternative to traditional soft-drinks and also a non-alcoholic alternative to alcohol. Which ever category you pit it against it’s better for your health and liver at a time when sugar and alcohol are increasingly under-fire from regulators and health advisory boards.
“You've got Jamie Oliver fighting against the government, talking about sugar. You’ve got one of the best bartenders in the world, Alex Kratena, saying that non-alcoholic's the new vegetarian. There's this huge force at work that we're tapping into that means we're not pushing water uphill” Ben explained.
Seedlip Drinks are a relative unknown on our 20 Challengers to Watch list having only launched in November last year. The early signs however look good, with stockists Selfridges frequently selling out and production being unable to meet demand.
Reports also suggest that although traditional Carbonated Soft-Drinks (CSDs) have been in a twenty year decline (US Data), craft soft-drinks could follow the same growth pattern of craft beer and see equally high levels of market share going to those smaller brands and producers who focus on quality.
If Seedlip can become the go-to brand for ‘what-to-drink-when-you-are-not-drinking’ in what is a fast-growing category, we feel they have a bright 2016 ahead.
On or off the wagon, we can all drink to that.
For radical transparency.
For killing email with kindness.
For figuring out how to be both global and local.
For setting a new standard for 'Challenger Banks'.
For making Amazon's weak spot a competive advantage.
For promising to make Apple look small time.
For breaking the taboo around menstruation.
For paving the way for a new generation of belief-led brands.
For a fresh toke - sorry take, on the cannabis category.
For taking the showroom concept to another level.
For bringing color and advance to not-drinking.
For creating a financial platform to one day rival Wall Street.
For 'Drink no Evil' and sticking it to Coke.
For at least attempting to get some of us off the grid.
For standing up to the UK's Big 6 Energy firms.
For being anti-antivirus.
For giving Uber a bloody nose in 2016. (We hope...)
For flipping the rules of dating.
For elegantly positioning cable as a thing of the past.
For being the 'Real & Human' challenger in FMCGs.
Editor of The Challenger Project, marketing at eatbigfish. Champion of the underdog. West Ham fan. All adds up really.