20 August 2018
My Letter from America
5 Things that two weeks in Florida taught me
I’ve recently returned from a 2 week break in Florida and a fair few things took me by surprise, here are my top observations:
1. High Quality Fresh Produce
I hadn’t realised how poor the fresh produce is in the UK, mostly only lasting a few days in the fridge and lacking any taste beyond water. I wasn’t expecting the US to teach me a thing or two about the quality of food! But the steaks, burgers, pineapple, sweetcorn and strawberries had a taste I hadn’t witnessed at home for 20 years. Even the display of greens hits you as being fresher than fresh. It might be that the best produce is on their doorstep and we have to import a lot of our produce, but it really opened my eyes in a way I hadn’t expected given the McDonald’s generation we associate with our American counterparts. Surely an opportunity exists for the key retailers in the UK to differentiate themselves beyond price by improving the quality of their fresh produce.
2. Supersize Me
Everything is just bigger - the local Walmart blew my mind in terms of its scale - it felt like it was the size of Wimbledon! Beyond that, it’s the fact that everything you buy is much bigger; bags of sweets, cartons of drink, etc. At virtually every restaurant we visited you got instant refills of the world’s famous carbonated beverages - no wonder they have an obesity crisis on their hands. No sooner had you put your glass down and the server (AKA waitress) had put another drink down. My wife and I asked to share a salad, they laid it down in front of her and she said “We asked if you’d split the salad” and the response was: “We have, that’s just half a portion!”.
3. Plastic Fantastic
The US could learn a thing or two about plastic and waste. Virtually every single item that was bagged in Walmart was done so in one plastic bag. The wave of plastic abuse in the US is on a different scale than what we have here in the UK. I did however advocate the cereal packaging which you can simply buy in refills, thereby eliminating the need for the cardboard box. I very much doubt that they were recyclable refills though. An opportunity for us to follow up on here in the UK?
4. Guns, Guns, Guns
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is everywhere you go, from gun ranges along most of the streets, to the ability to buy and arm yourself with your weapon of choice in Walmart. We hear and see the mass shootings from afar, but by being up close and personal you realise how omnipresent guns are across the USA. It filled me with fear as it’s just so easy to pick up a gun and kill someone!
5. Fat or Thin
Now this might well be a Florida tainted view, but people in general were either super sporty or mildly obese. There simply didn’t seem to be any middle ground. Not being on the thin side myself I can see how easy it is to just consume everything. The Donut Experiment (thedonutexperiment.com) made life even harder, you pick and choose your favourite toppings and order a box of 12 amazing doughnuts. It makes Krispy Kreme feel like Little Chef, a new taste sensation to hit my senses. Mike’s Hot Honey in a milkshake is another irresistible treat: https://mikeshothoney.com/.
All told the fresh produce was the biggest surprise and something many UK retailers could learn from and look to replicate. The rest just shocked me, you sort of expect Supersize Me but the plastic abuse and love of guns was on another scale!
People Love a bit of DWB!
The world of functional drinks, or ‘drinks with benefits’ (DWB) is a category that has seen huge development.
Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie
Steve shares the best things about his job, as well as the genius behind “who's nicked my friggin' grapes".
Meet Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
Louise Kennedy on the strategies that brands implement when bringing together brand purpose and distinctive assets.
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Managing Partner, Richard Taylor on the importance of iconicity in the route to impact.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Strategist Tessa Hill on some of the key relevance challenges we’re asked to solve through the power of design.
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
How hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers the importance of distinctive assets.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Inspiration from Rosie Arnold at the D&AD Talks 2019
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the giants are emulating the discounters.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.