The Jolly Hog: sausage & sizzle in action

The Jolly Hog is literally a great example of brand that literally combines product "sausage" and emotional "sizzle". The company make delicious sausages and other pork products, such as hog roasts.  It was started by Ollie Kohn, a former player with the local rugby team I support, Harlequins. The main route to consumer is catering at at Harlequins’ home ground, the Stoop, as well as Twickenham stadium, Bath and Saracens rugby clubs and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

I was chuffed to bits to meet up with Ollie recently at Harlequins' ground, The Stoop. I got to meet a Quins legend, and learn more about the how the Jolly Hog brand has been developed. The Jolly Hog approach to  branding  are particularly relevant for small businesses, as Ollie and the team have created a million pound business without any conventional advertising.


1. It all starts with the sausage…

The Jolly Hog brand, like most strong brands, is built on a great product. The sausage recipe was refined through experimentation in the kitchen to get the taste just right. The sausages have a high meat content, with no rusk of bulking agents used in some other sausages. Whilst sausages are at the core of the business, the team also sell pulled pork, hog roasts and sausage rolls.

2. A story with sizzle

A nice thing about the Jolly Hog is the story of how it was created by Ollie and his two brothers. This gives the brand a human face, and makes it feel authentic, adding some emotional sizzle. Ollie's rugby playing background adds some spice to this story, adding to its PR value. I also like the way the team use a hand-written version of the story as part of the display at all their catering stands, like the one below.

3. Distinctive identity 

The Jolly Hog brand has what I think is a great visual identity. First, the team have cut the name down from the original "Jolly Hog and Sausage", making it easier to remember (consumers tend to shorten a name to 3-4 syllables anyway). Second, the brand has a distinctive symbol that combines the brand name with the pig snout and ears. The uneven typeface adds a hand-made, crafted touch.

4. Create buzz

The Jolly Hog team have done a good job of creating some buzz and PR about the brand to build awareness. First, the product has talked for itself, with Michel Roux Junior, he Michelin-starred chef, saying live on GMTV that his favourite sausages were the Jolly Hog’s. Second, the story of Ollie and his brothers has been picked up in the press, including this article in The Daily Telegraph. Finally, the team have made use of their connection with the Harlequins rugby team to get some free PR, including this priceless bit of visual branding by Quins and England rugby star Joe Marler.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 19.29.50
5. "Immersive trial"

The Jolly Hog has been built from the start as an "experience" brand, with the main channel to date being catering at live events. This is ball-breaking work to do well, requiring a huge effort to hire and train the right people to serve customers with a smile. The pay-off is that this creates "immersive trial": trying the brand for the first time not at home in your kitchen, but at a live sporting event with an enjoyable, memorable atmosphere. These associations then become part of the "memory structure" you have of the brand. This is a solid foundation for The Jolly Hog if they eventually stretch into selling pork products as a retail product.

In conclusion, The Jolly Hog is a great example of brand building based on sausage and sizzle, and shows how much you can do as a small business without big budgets.