Investing for brand growth. Six tips to make a small brand big.

Bridestowe Lavender Bear

Purple is the new envy. Learn from Bridestowe Lavender and their model for growth.

Last week, ABC’s 7.30 Report ran a story on an incredible small business that is now one Tasmania’s top tourist attractions that is attracting hundred of Chinese tourists daily.

The ABC focussed on Bridestowe’s famous bear but it is clear that the company has invested significantly in building a unique and authentic brand. This is a model that could be adapted for any small agri-business looking to grow.

Bridestowe bear

From a run-down dispirited business, owner Robert Ravens has turned Bridestowe Lavender Estate into a very successful brand that is famous across the globe for their unique lavender oils and products. How did he do it?

In a video produced by BusinessTas, Ravens shares his strategy for growth. Inspired by the Bridestowe story, here are six tips that could inspire any small or agri business to achieve brand growth.

1. Uncover your compelling truth.
Focus on what you can do and offer that is truly unique and authentic and the rest of the world will desire and envy (e.g. the world’s finest lavender oil and lavender products). The more clarity you have around who you are (what you believe and what makes you special), the greater your advantage to differentiate and realise growth opportunities.

2. Develop a range of value add products.
Build on your strengths and look for ways to grow your market. For many businesses, like Bridestowe, this could mean looking for ways to tap into overseas markets.

3. Understand the audience and seek out ways to emotionally connect with them.
For Bridestowe this was all about creating not only the best lavender but also making lavender contemporary and appealing for a new generation.

4. Create a unique brand experience.
Raven emphasises that if you want to tap into the tourist market, you need to be open after hours and in particular all weekend and you need to create a valuable and memorable experience. It’s all about making your brand accessible, desirable and stand-out.

5. Ensure you have an active and efficient online business.
Every business needs to be an online business. In many ways the web can be a great equaliser as smart small businesses can compete with large corporations. However, you need to invest in it as a primary sales and customer communication channel. You need to draw people to the site, match the customer experience in store and ensure delivery is cost-effective and efficient. Bridestowe recognise the need for this but they could certainly benefit from investing in a digital strategy and enhance their web presence and marketing.

6. Finally, protect your brand.
If you are doing something right, there will always be others trying to copy you. You need to make sure you legally protect your brand and its products. Ravens realises the importance of protecting the brand and is constantly fighting brand fakes and copies of his famous Bobby Bear.

While the success of the purple bear was a little bit of luck, it was driven out of a robust brand strategy. It came from an entrepreneurial idea to use up excess dried lavender and it was designed with the target audience in mind. Hand sewn, well branded and culturally appealing, it attracted the attention of famous Chinese model, Zhang Xinyu. Zhang endorsed the bear and now it as an essential bedtime pal for any Chinese guy under 30 thanks to a bit of help from social media.

Bridestowe Lavender is another great example of a little company who has reaped the benefits of investing in their brand. If want some ideas on how you can fire up your brand, I’d love to chat.

Michael Hughes
Partner and Strategy Director

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