all Insights

The Formula for Taking DTC Brands to Brick-and-Mortar Retail

You’ve got a killer product, a packaging system that looks fantastic on social media, a cohort of fans who flock to your site and gobble up every new flavor you drop, and a pile of data on those customers. You’ve got a thriving direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand. Good on you!

DTC is a great proving ground for start-up brands. But the costs associated with delivering a top-shelf consumer experience are skyrocketing: shipping costs, marketing expenses (social media, influencers, retargeting), and raw materials. And while we don’t think the channel’s going away in the near term, we believe it’s time for brands to shift their focus from being a darling to a few (we call this Dominant by Default in the life cycle of a brand) and move to the bigger, real-er world of in-store retail where billion dollar brands are made, and the fakers die.

We are advising the DTC brands we work with, “Get thee to retail.”

How Does DTC Success Translate to IRL Retail?

The short answer is, what you think you know about your customers is not gonna get you there.

Not all DTC 1-to-1 marketing data translates into bankable audience insights. We have seen it lead smart teams into complicated channel transitions because they’ve been deceived by past success —

1) They thought they had a brand, when in reality they had a product lineup.

2) They thought they knew their audience, but really they projected their own wants and desires into an audience profile.

Products don’t matter as much as promises. And groupthink and cognitive bias are brand killers.

Reaching consumers is so much easier via DTC and ecommerce channels than through brick-and-mortar because you’re fully in control. You tell your story through artfully curated social media photos, you pay to attract visitors to your site, you entice them with long-form content about how great your products are. Then, when they buy, you overspend on a sexy unboxing experience and free shipping, hoping that the lifetime value of this handful of die-hard fans will become your ticket to the promised land of preference.

But (or and) even though this channel has boasted 10 years of strong growth, at the peak of the pandemic DTC was still 84% below total retail sales. And it’s been steadily declining since we have been allowed to go out again.

If you want to go big, it’ll take more than your customer data to get you there. Every leader and marketer working on DTC brands has access to their own loyal fan base’s input, preferences, and shopping behavior. But just like all syndicated and primary research, this data can only look backward.

Plus, your current fan base is too insular. Consumers think they have an outsize influence on other people’s buying habits because they’re living in an echo chamber – and the brands that listen to them are living in the same echo chamber. You’re missing millions of people who could love you in the future because you’re focused on the thousands of people who love you now.

So how do you translate this tiny little star into a galaxy of customers?

The Formula for Taking a DTC Brand to Retail

There’s a formula for turning DTC traction and insights into a strategy to reach velocity on shelf:

Audience + channel strategy + positioning, with packaging as the icing on the cake.

(How do we know this works? We guided HighKey from a DTC startup with tons of potential to explosive retail sales in just 6 months.)

So let’s break this formula down.

Audience

When you start in the DTC channel, you’ll know deeply who your audience is. In fact, it’s a valid reason to launch a brand this way: not to make money, but to gather consumer intel.

But — and this is a big but — online consumer data gives brand leaders false confidence. Why? Because you’re paying money to get people to your site, narrowing your audience by persona, and communicating highly specifically to them. Many leadership teams and marketers think that the online buying audience will scale. Just because a hard-core workout type buys protein powder on Amazon, that business isn’t scalable beyond that microgroup.

Three things will help you get beyond your current fan base:

1) additional data (SPINS, IRI, Numerator) that will help you understand who to target in the retail environment

2) an experienced navigator who can interpret that data to help you find net new consumers (that’d be us)

3) a solid brand strategy that will align your mission, audience, and product lineup.

Channel Strategy

It’s not just a matter of where you sell; it’s about the order in which you proceed into different outlets. Ultimately, universal acceptance requires that your brand be available in all kinds of channels, but the order in which you move is important. Success in DTC will have left clues about which sequence of retailer growth makes the most sense for your brand.

Audiences expect certain types of brands in certain stores. If you start out in dollar stores, you can’t then go sell at boutique or specialty retail. Your reputation as a low-cost offering will precede you, and you can’t then up your price and target audience. If you get discovered at Costco, it’s hard to swim the other way.

You may not be a mass-market brand, and that’s OK. An essential part of brand strategy is defining who you are not for. But if you aim to reach a bigger and bigger audience, best to start at the small end of the funnel. When we built a channel strategy for our client Essentia, we led them carefully from specialty food retail into big-box chains. Consumers are delighted to find Essentia at Walmart because they’ve already bought it at Whole Foods.

Positioning

Positioning is an extension of your strategic foundation. It’s the act of saying, “Here’s our value proposition, our reason for being, and what we make.” Let’s agree that your success in DTC means that you have considered and are using brand positioning.

Once you define and deeply understand your audience, you build different personas. For Essentia, we broadly defined the brand’s audience as “Overachievers” and then created personas around different types of overachievers: athletes, people who do physical work, musicians, etc.

Positioning involves making tough decisions that go beyond conventional messaging. Who do you want to reach, and how do you want to reach them? The transition from DTC to retail is an ideal time to re-energize brand positioning as part of a deeper strategy to reach a wider audience in pursuit of growth.

Packaging

How you look on shelf is the icing on the cake, the inevitable visual outcome of the world you’ve built around the brand. If there’s any hesitation or conflict about the package design, you’ve missed something.

What Do Retailers Need from You?

No doubt, success in DTC will open some doors for your brand. Retail category managers probably know who you are. But they need more than a few months of Amazon or proprietary sales data.

They want to know that you have real audience insight — not just for your own products, but for how their shoppers will adopt your brand. And not just for your niche online buyers but for a larger universe of brick-and-mortar shoppers.

They’re also looking to see that you have a long term game. And you’ll need to convince them that you know the category well and that you’ll invest in their channel – their job is at stake here, too.

Taking an online darling into retail stores requires a hell of a lot more than a cool design, a few diehard buyers, and some swagger. We’ve done this before, with great success. So, if you’re ready to make a power move, let’s talk about how we can help you.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

The Importance of Having Accelerator Programs for Latino Entrepreneurs Featuring Junea Rocha, Brazi Bites

Are you a startup struggling to achieve success? Have you thought of joining an entrepreneur accelerator program?

It is not easy to make a business viable — many barriers can take you down. That’s why Junea Rocha relied upon many people in her journey growing Brazi Bites. She now has a thriving brand and is passionate about helping others achieve success. With the launch of the Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, Junea is uplifting minority entrepreneurs, giving them a network of support, and helping them reach their biggest goals.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Junea Rocha, the Co-founder and CMO of Brazi Bites, to discuss how she’s helping entrepreneurs succeed through the Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program. Junea talks about the program, the industry gap she’s trying to reduce, how the program will help startup leaders achieve success, and the criteria for joining the program.

In this episode we learn:

  • Junea Rocha talks about Brazi Bites’ new products
  • The Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program Junea has developed — and the inspiration behind it
  • How Brazi Bites’ journey is connected to the template of the program
  • Junea explains the gap her program is trying to reduce
  • How the Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program is going to help startup leaders achieve success
  • Who can join the Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, and what’s the application process like?
Gooder Podcast

The Importance of Having Accelerator Programs for Latino Entrepreneurs Featuring Junea Rocha, Brazi Bites

apple
spotify
googke podcast
tunein
Deezer
partner-share-lg

About Junea Rocha

Junea Rocha is the Co-founder and CMO of Brazi Bites. Junea founded Brazi Bites with her husband in 2010 in the hopes that Americans would love Brazilian Cheese Bread (pão de queijo) as much as they did. After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015, Brazi Bites grew a passionate, cult-like fanbase, and in the years since has expanded to thousands of freezer sections nationwide. In her time running Brazi Bites, Junea has gained experience in all areas of the business, while remaining deeply passionate about sharing their delicious creations with the world.

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn Junea Rocha: https://www.linkedin.com/in/junea-rocha-615b983a/

Website: https://brazibites.com/

Show Resources: 

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

The Art & Science of Killer Brand Taglines

For a food or beverage brand, a tagline has the power to capture consumers’ attention in a fractured, fast-moving world. A killer tagline is also incredibly difficult to come up with — especially if you’re trying to bolt a magic phrase onto an existing (or nonexistent) brand strategy. 

We think of a great tagline as a Haiku that captures your brand’s essence and calls deeply to your present and future fan base. 

Our latest white paper reveals our process for developing a tagline and guidance on when and how to use it across your brand’s communication platforms. 

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

Authority Magazine: Women In Wellness: The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing with Diana Fryc

Diana Fryc, Partner and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer

Diana Fryc was recently interviewed by Authority Magazine on her thoughts of helping people towards better wellbeing.

Authority Magazine, a Medium publication, is devoted to sharing in-depth, and interesting interviews, featuring people who are authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. They use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

They believe that good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes.

Check out the entire interview on Authority Magazine’s website.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

Authority Magazine: 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand with David Lemley

David Lemley, Founder and President of Retail Voodoo

David Lemley had the chance to be interviewed by Authority Magazine on his thoughts on what food and beverage brands need to be successful today.

Authority Magazine, a Medium publication, is devoted to sharing in-depth, and interesting interviews, featuring people who are authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. They use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

They believe that good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes.

Check out the entire interview on Authority Magazine’s website.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

How to Shape a Food or Beverage Brand’s Tone & Voice

If you’ve been reading our stuff lately, you know we’ve been on a mission to convince food and beverage marketers that creative expression must flow from brand strategy. Every. Single. Time.

For the most part, we’ve been talking about visual interpretation—design. Now I’d like to cover something adjacent but different: the brand’s verbal expression, language, and behavior, or what we call tone and voice.

Strategy, tone, and design are definitely in a relationship but … it’s complicated.

In the hierarchy of marketing, tone and voice flows directly from brand strategy, and it supersedes design.

Brand Strategy => Tone & Voice => Visual Expression

Let’s break this down:

Brand strategy is a mix of internal guideposts, mission, vision, and values. The language you use within your walls to discuss strategy can become consumer-facing, but more often it influences what you say and how you say it to consumers.

Tone and voice translates strategy into words, behaviors, vibes, and relationships you build with your audience. That audience may be consumers who buy your products, retail partners your sales team interacts with, or your suppliers. Tone and voice defines how you’re going to fulfill the promise your brand makes to the world. And it ensures consistency so that everyone speaks from the same phrase book.

Design, or creative, renders the tone and voice of the brand in a visual way that delivers on the brand promise and meets business objectives. Design is font choice, color palette, visual library of illustrations or photos, and so on. Design reflects tone, which reflects strategy. If your brand voice is soft, and comforting and casual, then your font choice shouldn’t be aggressive and angular.

How to Build a Food or Beverage Brand’s Tone & Voice

How to Build a Brand’s Tone and Voice

When we advise food and beverage companies on building a brand strategy playbook, we don’t go from the strategy work straight to the design execution. There’s a step in between: defining the brand’s tone and voice. So what does that look like?

Most brands have a design standards guide that governs things like logo usage and photographic style. We take it a step further and develop a brand bible—a rich, comprehensive document that incorporates everything from how the brand delivers on its mission, to how it talks with customers, to how it responds in a crisis. All that, plus typefaces and color palettes and other visual elements. The brand bible is literally that: A reference that defines every bit of visual and verbal communication.

In creating the brand’s tone and voice, we use the 12 classic brand archetypes. It’s a tool that marketers are familiar with, and a great way to use analogy to home in on the brand’s persona. Brand archetypes include the Hero, the Explorer, the Caregiver, and the Sage. By defining the archetype—either one of the traditional archetypes, a riff, or a combination—we can start to get a handle on the language, emotional tone, and communication style.

We also develop phrasing for the brand’s mission and vision. This might take the form of a manifesto (which could be used internally only or externally as well). It includes short, medium, and long versions of the mission for use in different ways. Some of this language should be consistently used verbatim, like gospel, but we also give people other language and tools so they can scat. These foundational words and phrases, married with the emotional tone and communication style, informs how we write every single bit of copy, from sales decks to social media posts.

From Verbal to Visual Expression

From there, we create a mood board, sort of a scrapbook that captures inspiration for how the brand looks in the wild. It incorporates imagery showing the consumer and their world, and how the brand fits into their lives. Out of that research emerges a visual system of type, color, and imagery.

In the olden days, design would pull the tone and voice forward, because design was stronger than writing. (Unless you were in the advertising business, where hotshot copywriters led the charge.) Today, the brand’s persona defines visual expression.

One watch-out though: Tone and voice, like design, must be anchored in the brand’s strategic foundation. I have seen it hundreds of times, when the copywriting is so creative and “cool” that the agency or internal team reverse-engineers the brand strategy to map to it. This is not brand strategy. A disconnect between mission, tone, and design is a recipe for confusing, alienating, and infuriating your audience. More to the point: When creative misses the mark, you risk failure in terms of meaningful performance (growing audiences, adding reach, getting velocity, and making a profit).

Successful brands understand who their potential customers are, how they think, what they need, and where they spend their time. Great brands that achieve long-term relevance arrive at these insights through a brand strategy framework that makes writing for said consumers intuitive rather than forced. Defining the elements below will help tone and voice deliver against strategy instead of redirect it:

• Purpose (why you exist)

• Promise (what will you do and how will you do it)

• Values (what will you stand behind even if it’s painful)

• Emotion (what’s in it for your employees, trade partners, consumers)

• Context (when, where, and how will someone know that they belong to your brand)

• Audience insight (what do they need to hear from you to opt-in)

• Competitive and category research

Case Study: A Brand with a Distinctive Voice

At an industry event in Chicago recently, reps from Hershey, Pringles, H-P, and Liquid Death shared the stage for a panel discussion. And those three mega-brands were agog at Liquid Death. Liquid Death’s countercultural tone and voice are so inclusive to a net new audience—they’re not about selling water; they’re an environmental company disguised as a water brand.

But the skateboard dude and tattooed mom don’t care about the brand’s mission to kill plastic packaging—they just care that the product is cool. They want the tall can with the logo that looks like it’s for a heavy metal band with rad type and skull graphics. The brand’s persona drives creative execution, all in service of the mission.

For more insight into how Liquid Death’s brand voice came to be, check out Diana’s Gooder podcast interview with Liquid Death’s CBO, Amy Friedlander Hoffman. Unsurprisingly, her personality was totally on brand.Need some guidance on shaping your brand’s tone and voice? That’s our thing. Let’s get in touch.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

Running a Successful Wellness Beverage Brand Featuring Angela Zeng, Karviva

How do you provide wellness through healthy drinks — and run a successful brand?

More people want to consume healthier foods and beverages — and it’s up to entrepreneurs to leverage this. Angela Zeng believes that earth has provided us with an abundance of simple, natural, and nutritious plant-based ingredients — not just to sustain life, but to help it flourish. With this in mind, Angela started her beverage brand to take care of people in a natural way. Now, she’s sharing the challenges and lessons she has learned while running her company.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Angela Zeng, Founder and CEO of Karviva, to discuss her entrepreneurial journey running a successful, healthy beverage brand. Angela explains where the idea for Karviva came from, how to manage food waste, the challenges and lessons she learned maneuvering a young, growing brand in the beverage industry, and the impacts of veganism and plant-based foods on the American diet.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Angela Zeng talks about Karviva and what it stands for
  • Angela explains where the Karviva product idea came from
  • Angela talks about food waste, how to solve this problem, and what people should know about low-carb diets
  • How Angela knew that she was headed in the right direction
  • Angela’s experience maneuvering a young, growing brand within the beverage industry
  • Generational differences in driving innovation and running businesses
  • The impacts of veganism and plant-based foods on the American diet
  • Angela shares a fun fact about postbiotics
Gooder Podcast

Running a Successful Wellness Beverage Brand Featuring Angela Zeng, Karviva

apple
spotify
googke podcast
tunein
Deezer
partner-share-lg

About Angela Zeng

Angela Zeng is the Founder and CEO of Karviva, a wellness beverage brand. Angela has over 17 years of experience within the functional beverage and juice industry. Her passion for natural healing is rooted in her strong belief in traditional Chinese medicine and herbal sciences. Angela’s heritage and passion for Eastern medicine, combined with her education and experience in modern medical research, motivated her to create something new for consumers.

LinkedIn Leigh Keith : https://www.linkedin.com/in/angelazeng1/

Website : https://karviva.com/

Show Resources: 

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

How To Succeed in the Refrigerated Snacks Space Featuring Leigh Keith, Perfect Snacks

Do you have what it takes to succeed in the refrigerated snacks sector? At age 19, Leigh Keith started Perfect Snacks with her family. Now, they’ve revolutionized the billion-dollar protein category. How did they do it?

Leigh shares the journey of how Perfect Snacks managed to be successful in creating fresh, grab-and-go snacking options. She says that to succeed in this space, you have to be passionate and expect challenges but have a mindset that every misstep is taking you somewhere.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Leigh Keith, the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Perfect Snacks, to discuss the entrepreneurial journey as a successful refrigerated snacks brand. Leigh talks about Perfect Snacks and some of the challenges of running a business as a young person, their acquisition by Mondelēz International, leadership strategies, and her advice to other entrepreneurs.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Leigh Keith talks about Perfect Snacks and what it stands for
  • Leigh shares what worked and didn’t work for her when running the business at age 19
  • Leigh explains what failure means
  • How Leigh knew that they were headed in the right direction
  • Where did the name “Perfect Bar” come from?
  • Mistakes that were pivotal to the success of Perfect Bar
  • Leigh talks about their acquisition by Mondelēz International
  • How Leigh’s upbringing and current work environment influence her leadership style
  • Mentors that were instrumental to Leigh’s success
  • Leigh’s advice to other entrepreneurs — and what’s next for Perfect Snacks
  • Women leaders Leigh admires
Gooder Podcast

How To Succeed in the Refrigerated Snacks Space Featuring Leigh Keith, Perfect Snacks

apple
spotify
googke podcast
tunein
Deezer
partner-share-lg

About Leigh Keith

Leigh Keith is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Perfects Snacks, which makes fresh-from-the-fridge protein snacks out of love for optimal health, fitness, and nutrition. Leigh has remained steadfast in building healthy communities from the inside out. In July of 2019, Perfect Snacks gained a majority interest acquisition from Mondelēz International, the global snacking leader. Leigh and Perfect Snacks have been awarded the NEXTY Award from New Hope media, and San Diego Magazine also named Leigh a Woman of the Year finalist.

LinkedIn Leigh Keith : https://www.linkedin.com/in/leigh-keith-11b7b726/

Website : https://perfectsnacks.com/

Show Resources: 

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

How to Successfully Run a For-Good, For-Profit Brand Featuring Suz Hernandez, MamaP

If we take care of Mother Earth, in turn, she’ll take care of us. So, how do you promote affordable and eco-friendly products?

After becoming aware of the lack of options in the eco-friendly product space, Suz Hernandez founded MamaP. She shares their journey, challenges, and the lessons they’ve learned running MamaP to encourage other brands that it is possible to have a for-good, for-profit brand that’s eco-friendly. Suz believes that together, people have the power to make a difference and put Mother Earth first.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Suz Hernandez, the Founder and CEO of MamaP, to discuss ways to successfully run an eco-friendly brand. Suz explains the reasons why MamaP exists as a for-good, for-profit brand, the challenges and lessons they’ve learned, and how they’re growing and creating change.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Suz Hernandez talks about MamaP, why it exists, and where the idea came from
  • Suz talks about their disposable products and how to discard them 
  • Suz explains how she knew that she was headed in the right direction 
  • How Suz became a socialpreneur
  • Challenges MamaP has faced that changed its trajectory
  • How Suz has leveraged past experiences to overcome some of the challenges they’ve faced as a brand 
  • Suz’s proudest milestone in the company
  • Suz’s advice to other leaders 
  • A surprising fact about plastic toothbrushes
  • Women leaders Suz admires
Gooder Podcast

How to Successfully Run a For-Good, For-Profit Brand Featuring Suz Hernandez, MamaP

apple
spotify
googke podcast
tunein
Deezer
partner-share-lg

About Suz Hernandez

Suzan (Suz) Hernandez is the Founder and CEO at MamaP, a CPG brand that strives to make Mama Earth proud by offering affordable, eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products in beauty, health, and home goods. Coupled with an MBA from Indiana University and work experience at leading companies like Nike and P&G, Suz has a passion and drive for blending consumer products with purpose, sustainability, and design. Suz is leading the vision, product innovation, and go-to-market for MamaP. MamaP is a triple bottom-line company — focusing on people, planet, and then profits.

LinkedIn Suzan Hernandez : https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzan-hernandez-204b65b/

Website : https://mamap.life/

Show Resources: 

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

How To Use Strategy as a Benchmark for Evaluating Creative

I’m just not feeling it.

I’d like to see a different shade of blue.

I love it!

In food and beverage marketing (in any field, really), the output of the creative process is highly subjective. We look at design assets — logo, packaging, social advertising — from the perspective of our own likes and dislikes. It’s human nature.

But creative decisions are not about us. They are always about the brand and its audience.

I don’t mean to be critical here. Nobody in your conference room has the tools to evaluate creative output in a way that guarantees it will resonate with your consumers. Not business leaders, who frame decisions rationally. Not design leaders, who frame decisions emotionally. None of us are taught how to think and talk objectively about creative.

So my team and I work hard to educate the marketing and brand leaders we work with, to focus discussions about design on brand objectives, and remove personal biases from the room.

It isn’t easy, but it’s essential to the success of your brand.

Brand Strategy Focuses Creative Exploration

Your capital-B Brand — which we define as the promise you make and the ways in which you keep it — underpins every decision your organization makes. Not just design. A brand strategy intentionally limits your choices. It places guardrails around product innovation: “We don’t make pumpkin spice-flavored products.” It focuses your retail channels: “We aren’t a big-box brand.” It defines your pricing model: “We are a premium product.”

Because we tend to think the creative process is playful, we assume it should happen without boundaries. In fact, brand strategy gives it the right kind of parameters. (Imagine that I set a piece of paper in front of you and said, “You can write or draw anything you want, and in an hour I’m going to come back and tell you whether it works for me.”)

I like to think of brand strategy as a three-lane superhighway surrounding a city. The three lanes are your what (your competitive advantage and your audience), your how (your culture and onlyness), and your why (your mission and promise). The highway keeps all creative exploration and output within the city limits.

Brand strategy produces confidence and clarity in all decision making. Design is the physical manifestation that your strategy is right.

Reframing the Conversation About Creative Output

With strategy as the anchor point, the conversation about design options — regardless of the deliverable — changes. And designers need to shift their frame of reference for spearheading these discussions. (Leading creative evaluations is something Retail Voodoo excels at, and a key reason why so many of our design alumni have gone on to become rockstars in other organizations.)

When designers talk about their work in business terms instead of attributes like color and type, business managers are familiar with the language. The people who have to live with the decisions designers are making respond to their work differently. It steers the dialog out of emotional territory and prevents comments like “I feel it” or “it’s a vibe.”

Even if you have the smartest, bravest, most experienced execs in the room, if you don’t have the strategic framework, you’ll get input like, “I read on Bevnet that ombre is a trend in packaging,” or “I walked into Whole Foods yesterday and saw …”

By focusing the discussion not on preference but on how well the solution supports the brand strategy, creative directors typically gain approval in one or two rounds, even on big, transformative stuff.

When you’re preparing to lead a creative evaluation, here are some questions to consider:

  • Will this resonate with the people we want to attract? (NOT: Will it make us in the room feel good?)
  • Will this stand out on the shelf in a way that can’t be unseen? (NOT: Does this fit within the conventions of our category?)
  • Does this communicate our story in a way that engages new customers and appeals to people who already love our brand? (NOT: Is this on-trend in color and typography?)

Signs That You’re Off Strategy

It’s easy to be seduced by a big idea. And in my experience, creative directors and agencies are really good at rewriting strategy to map to a killer design concept. So beware of falling in love with a solution that’s off strategy. How do you know if this is happening?

The most common sign is that the creative and marketing leads are willing to change the strategy vocabulary to fit the design. Or the creative team has to figure out how to accommodate someone’s personal preferences in the solution (“The brand manager wants blue, so how can we work blue into this design to make them happy?”)

Occasionally when working with food or beverage brands, we run into a senior person’s bias that we can’t overcome. So we treat it like the TV show Chopped: “OK, we have to use lamb brains and lemon meringue pie and pumpkin seeds.” And to the extent we can, we’ll connect those weird ingredients back to the strategy, so the solution makes sense.

Filtering Creative Conversations

Those personal preferences for visual expression — someone loves blue or hates serif type — will always be there. Mission-driven brands also have other cognitive biases that are important to recognize: They think their audience is just like them. And they think that a track record of success proves that their instincts are right.

When you and your colleagues evaluate any creative output, counteract those biases by applying a filter: It’s about our audience, not about us.

The goal is to get everyone to rally around a design translation not because it’s their favorite, but because it will whisper in the ear of your target audience in a way that competitors cannot. You won’t hope the solution works — you’ll know it will.You may be struggling to evaluate creative output with your team. It’s a common challenge — one that we’re really good at solving — so let’s talk.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David