We see a lot of well-known family brands lose their core values when they hit the big time, but this can’t be said for Yeo Valley. This is one of the reasons why I love them so much, and why I was really excited to hear Sarah Mead, aka “Bossy Boots” (that’s what her email signature says) speak at Digital Gaggle last Thursday.
It was Sarah’s mother-in-law who began the yeorney over 50 years ago with just 30 cows, a tea room and a field of strawberries. Yeo Valley is now the UK’s no.1 organic dairy brand with over 1800 employees and 8 million yeogurts leaving the factories every week (wowzers!) Who knew left-over clotted cream could make all of that happen?!
So what are the advantages of being part of a family brand?
- Quick decision making
- Risk taking
- Quick reaction time
And the disadvantages?
- Not a lot of budget for advertising
Speaking of advertising, remember this?
This was one of two TV adverts they decided to create; it aired in between the X Factor finals so was bound to get a large number of eyeballs on it. Even though it raised brand awareness, it didn’t necessarily hit the right audience, so instead of sales shooting up like crazy, they had to listen to a lot of teenagers reciting the lyrics back to them (on and off key!)
The outcome of this advert made the team realise what they actually wanted Yeo Valley to represent - realness. So they steered away from sexy farmer boy bands and decided to open the organic gardens regularly to the public. The Organic Gardens were such a success that it inspired Sarah to revamp the HQ so that people could visit for lunch and hold corporate events there too. And because people like you and I can use it, the canteen is now ranked the number 1 restaurant in Somerset on TripAdvisor (they beat 2,500 others to get there - pretty impressive guys!)
However, it’s all well and good showing the public how real you are, but do they actually care? And how would they communicate this without sounding like any other brand? These were some of the problems Sarah and the team were worried about, but they really didn’t need to be…
When someone says “Yeo Valley” what do you think of? For me it’s family and honesty - what you see is what you get. And to me that’s totally what a brand should be about. Everything you see from these guys is REAL. Real people, real surroundings, real products. Wouldn’t it be nice if all brands were like this?
These days Yeo Valley marketing bods know that the most effective way to get eyeballs on their messaging is on pack, and while they use social media as their main digital platform, it's not as important.. All their campaigns aim to get the public involved, like their Design the Glastonbury Bag competition which asks people of a creative nature to come up with a design for the official festival bags. How cool is that?!
The way in which Sarah talked about her brand was truly inspiring and it was the perfect way to end a brilliant event. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her story, and the next time I put a Yeo Valley product in my trolley, I’ll do so with an even bigger smile :)
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