A Trusted & Loved Brand
Arguably, Australia only has a handful of iconic brands; brands with a rich history and tradition, brands that are recognised, trusted, and understood by customers around the country. Goulburn Valley could well stake claim for being one of those brands. I grew up eating Goulburn Valley tinned peaches and pears for dessert. Mum trusted the brand to feed us kids, and that was good enough for me. Goulburn Valley earned a place in the hearts and minds of many hundreds of thousands of Australians.
As a brand, Goulburn Valley has always had a clearly proposition: fresh fruit – pears, peaches and apricots, grown by Australian Farmers, picked from the orchards around Goulburn, and canned in their own juices – sweet, syrupy goodness.
Waiter, There’s Some Milk in My Fruit
So Imagine my confusion the other day when I came across an add for Goulburn Valley flavoured milk. Flavoured milk? From Goulburn Valley? ‘Isn’t Goulburn Valley a fruit company?’ I heard my subconscious ask itself. ‘Isn’t Goulburn Valley all about sweet, syrupy peaches, pears and apricots? What’s all this about milk and banana and chocolate and iced coffee??!!’
Stretching your Brand
Some brand extensions when launched make perfect sense, like the reality TV franchise ‘The Biggest Loser’ launching weight loss centers. The Biggest Loser has earned enough credibility in the weight loss space, that even from a starting-point of reality TV, I think they’d make a pretty good fist at helping the rest of the world lose weight. We wrote an article earlier this year about how effective brand extension can be as a business strategy when it’s done right. Then there are the other kind of brand extensions, the ones that make us go ‘Hmmmm, I’m not sure…’ For Goulburn Valley the tinned fruit people to make the brand stretch to Goulburn Valley the flavoured milk people was going to require an explanation.
The Stretch from Tinned Fruit to Flavoured Milk
One of the advantages of brands who have established an emotional connection as Goulburn Valley had with me over my childhood, is that they have points on the board. If they do something unexpected, something off-brand or disappointing, we’re far more likely to give them a second chance than we would with brands who lack the same level of relationship. So as uncertain as I was of Golbourn Valley’s foray into flavoured milk, I was looking forward to hearing the story that would connect their tinned fruit heritage to their new dairy drink expertise. What magic connection had Goulburn Valley identified that would have me believe their brand expertise would make that stretch?
I photographed the new billboards, I bought the product, I read the packs, I searched in vain for an explanation. The only clue I could find was a variation of the Goulburn Valley logo sporting the words ‘Dairy Company’. Now even as a brand professional who makes a living by designing brand marks, I know that just because your logo says ‘Dairy Co.’ doesn’t mean you can milk a cow.
What does Real taste taste like?
‘Get Real Taste’ the billboards told me. Goulburn Valley know a fair bit about the real taste of pears, peaches and apricots – but does that mean they know about the real taste of bananas, strawberries, chocolate and iced coffee? I bought the product, I tasted the product, take it from me, there’s nothing even remotely real about the taste of the banana, and strawberry flavours. Personally I’ve never bought flavoured milk for the ‘real fruit taste’, that’s kind of like buying a McDonalds hamburger for the taste of beef. When I buy flavoured milk, it’s for the ‘real taste’ of flavoured milk. And this new brand of flavoured milk from the folks at the Goulburn Valley Dairy Co. tastes, looks and smells pretty much the same as any other flavoured milk to me.
So has Goulburn Valley successfully transferred the brand equity of their tinned fruit expertise into their dairy venture? Not for this flavoured milk drinker. It seems the Goulburn Valley Dairy Co. has its work cut out to get a foothold in a tough market with powerful incumbent brands. In the wise words of the Greek woman who runs the corner milk bar: “We don’ sell much flavoured milk love. It’s very slow. I only sell a few Big Ms-a-day. I can’t sell another one. No-one will buy him.”
Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist.
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