Not every entrepreneur has the nerve to make and star in their own rap video but Jim Cregan, co-founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, thought it hit all the right notes for catapulting his drinks brand in front of the eyes of the nation. The track ‘Who Got The Beans’, released on social media in 2016, saw Cregan channel the spirit of Eminem and rap about how he had come from the badlands of Christchurch, Dorset to shake up the iced coffee sector with flavours such as Mocha and Gingerbread.
The video, laced with humour and subtle placement of Jimmy’s easy to open Iced Coffee cartons, fitted perfectly with the brand ethos of fun, youth, simplicity and taking on the big boys such as Starbucks. Cregan, who founded the company in 2010 and boasts listings in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, says building its brand on social media has been key.
“Jimmy’s was born into an evolving world of social and we’ve been sharing every step of the journey online since the day we began. Our brand personality has always been important for us, even back to the days when we had few followers, and video has made it ten times easier,” he explains.
On Twitter, Jimmy's converses with customers, on Facebook it shares company updates and videos and on Instagram it chronicles everyday business life in photos. “We figure out what each audience on each platform would like and go from there. We can be cheeky, make light-hearted jokes but we’ll never swear or get nasty,” Cregan says. “The quick wit, humour and direct chat we have with our customers has driven our following.”
Mo Luthra, brand strategist at agency Bland to Brand, says Jimmy’s has emotionally engaged with its customers and built brand loyalty. “People are influenced to buy more by emotions than functionality,” he says. “People want to buy a Ferrari because its brand creates a feeling of luxury. They don’t think about whether a Ford Mondeo may get them from A to B more efficiently. If you just sell or market your product on a purely functional level then whenever someone comes along with a similar but cheaper offering you will lose. You need to build a brand which will emotionally connect with customers and make you distinctive and attractive.” He points to fruit smoothie firm Innocent Drinks as another prime example.
“Just from the name you understood that they had a natural, healthy product,” he says. “They sold at music festivals and had quirky packaging. You thought I want to be part of this.”
Explain your values
Julian Horberry, director at Propaganda Agency, says growing firms need to realise that their brand is not superficial. “It isn’t about how it looks, it should be strategic and should communicate your values and what you are good at and care about. Your brand is part of your business and helps communicate what your business stands for,” he states. “What is your differentiator? Waitrose, for example, has always had the brand strategy of not selling ‘cheap and cheerful’ products. That has become part of their brand and identity. Selling cheaper products would not fit their brand.”
Luthra agrees that communication is key. “If all you do is sales and marketing communications then you will lose. When Apple launches a new product, they don’t immediately mention how much it costs. It shows you the visuals and create an emotional experience. It’s all about how cool and nice the new product is,” he says. “Social media now gives small companies the chance to communicate and build loyalty in the same way. Find the audience you want to tap into and find the right medium. Push your name and content out there. Make that emotional connection and make yourself memorable.”
Cregan says its social media branding strategy has been “super rad”. He says: “We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of people online and best of all it doesn’t cost a great deal and it’s in real time. It’s about representing yourself and your brand in the best way possible.”