Green & Black’s: Re-design to Re-position

The Marketing Director of Green & Black’s, Mark Palmer, was for me one of the two stars of the Marketing Society Conference, along with Robert Stephens of the Geek Squad. He told the compelling story of how the brand was successfully re-packaged to create explosive growth.

The brand was launched in 1991 and positioned as an organic chocolate. The organic credentials and bittersweet taste from its high 70% cocoa content earnt it instant niche appeal, but market share stuck at only 1%. It was sold mainly in specialist stores and when it was in supermarkets, it was stuck in the organic section.

The flash of strategic genius at the end of the 1990s was to re-position the brand from worthy organic (on the left) to luxury premium chocolate (on the right), leading on indulgence and with organic credentials becoming a reason-to-believe. So far, so smart. But what the story also demonstrates is how excellent execution is key to success. The pack design created by Pearlfisher was superb. The dark brown colour clearly communicated intense flavour, while the gold typography of the logo acted as a cue to the brand’s premium status.

The design also played a heroic role in the advertising and PR campaigns that emphasised the brand’s premium credentials and dark, bitter taste with the endline "It deserves a little respect". The new positioning and mix enabled the brand to break out of the organic, specialist straight-jacket and secure distribution in the chocolate section of leading retailers.

The success of the re-launch is stunning, with sales rising from £4.5m to £50 million and the brand being bought by Cadbury’s in 2006. Time will tell if the magic is kept alive now the brand is part of a big corporate.

5-minute workout: do you have an opportunity to re-position of product or service to imcrease its appeal and sales potential, whilst staying loyal to the brand’s roots? Are you promoting a benefit that would be better off as a reason-to-believe for a bigger benefit (c.f. Green & Black’s and organic)?