Warburtons: a founder brand who “just make bloody good stuff”

Another good example of a "founder brand" is the UK's leading bread brand, Warburtons. This is a 134 year old, no-nonsense North UK business still run by a family member, Jonathan Warburton. Here's some nuggets from the interview he gave to Marketing magazine recently.

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1. Focus on what you do best: When Jonathan, now 52, inherited the family business along with two cousins, he took on a business that had diversified into all sorts of stuff, including car-number plates and jewellery. One of his first tasks was to sell these businesses off. As he says, "I have learned that there is a temptation to turn your hand to everything, but the key is to do one thing well."

Now, there's a phrase to tattoo on every marketer: "Do one thing, and do it well." That would stop the silly stretching too many brands still partake in.

[Having said this, it looks like Jonathan is not fully following his own advice, given recent launch of ChippidyDooDaa Pitta Chips. Time will tell how they do, but they have "dwarf" written on them in my book]

2. Do the simple things really, really well: another great quote about the importance of the product, full of what I call "Northern marketing director" common sense: "Success is not rocket science. We just make bloody good stuff".

3. Don't understand the consumer. Be the consumer: Founder brands are run by people who take the business personally. Its not just a job. Your name is above the door. One benefits of this is product passion that lives on outside the office. In Jonathan's case, he got pissed off at his wife buying seeded loaves of bread from Marks & Spencer. So, he made his own. It has gone to be one of the most successful launches the brand has done in the last 10 years

4. Growth can come from non-sexy places: one of the key growth drivers for Warburtons has been un-sexy, but highly effective: geographic expansion from the Northern heartland of the brand to other regions of the UK.

5. Founders make great brand properties: being a family company gives you a great brand property to communicate relevant benefits in a distinctive way. Warburtons does this with a campaign based on the idea of "We Care Because Our Name's On It." This sees the brand back on track after experimenting with a different approach in 2008 with an ad showing a Japanese tourist getting confused when he sees references all around him to the Warburton name (no, I didn't get it either).

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In conclusion, we might not all be lucky enough to work on a Founder Brand. But we can learn from Jonathan by focusing on doing one thing, doing it bloody well, and doing it with a distinctive marketing mix.