Informally, our partnership kicked off with a meeting at Global Pet Expo, where we shared our experiences in the pet industry and talked manufacturing innovation and marketing trends. We did most of this, as one does, while walking miles around the showroom floor, occasionally stopping to point out and discuss booths and brands that interested us.
Formally, our partnership kicked off with a visit to their state of the art manufacturing facility, where we led an ideation session based on our upfront discovery work, including market research and a stakeholder survey. That was the first step in what continues to be a productive partnership, inclusive of product development collaboration, identity development, packaging, website creation, trade show assets, sample mailers, custom photography, social marketing, and more.
Central to our efforts was our work on their flagship jerky line, which would become known to consumers and retailers around the country as Dogs ♥.
The Costco Shopper
One of our key challenges was to figure out how to both defend and expand territory in Costco. Based on a situation analysis and an audit of their existing brand, we made recommendations for how to evolve, and, with their agreement, we got to work.
We wrote, deployed, and analyzed a consumer attitudes survey, which guided brand messaging, positioning, identity (visual and verbal), and packaging.
Having developed new packaging based on this upfront research, we performed comparative consumer testing targeted to relevant Costco shoppers. This testing measured how well our packaging tracked with customer values and how well it performed against the competitive set. The results were promising, and we used those data points to build a retailer pitch presentation for our partners to use during an upcoming call on Costco.
What Brand Love Looks Like
With our new brand and our sales tools in the hands of their smart, capable sales team, not only did their Costco sales and presence grow, they also used this data and these sales tools to gain entry into new retailers.
Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reception to the new brand, we kept the momentum going, increasing awareness and presence on Amazon and Chewy through a combination of digital advertising, product page updates, and other initiatives, like a new Amazon storefront.
Even as our creatives found new ways to introduce this new brand, our strategists were consulting with the client on their plans to develop a new line extension: small format jerky. Knowing that limited ingredient, low-cal treats were in demand, we garnered further insights into the major drivers of small and low-cal treat purchases and then got to work positioning the product line for versatility in use—treating, training, and topping—as well as versatile appeal across retail channels.
Several months later, Tiny Loves was unveiled. Inclusive of naming, packaging design, and lots of collaboration to produce a line that complemented the existing offerings, Tiny Loves was an unexpected joy. It’s not unusual that this type of initiative springs unexpectedly from other brand development work, but it’s exciting and rewarding whenever we can turn strategic insights into real-world value for both the consumer and our partners.
Since our first meetings with Hillside Farms, we’ve successfully partnered on several new initiatives, including partnering on an expansion of their product portfolio through three new sub-brands, and we’ve walked many more pet trade show floors together.
More importantly, we’re proud to be able to say that we helped them achieve one of their original goals in approaching us, which was to expand into FDM. We’re so grateful for long-term brand partnerships like the one we have with Hillside Farms, where we can offer the full range of our expertise and experience, combining B2B efforts and consumer promotion to increase awareness, distribution, and sales.
Product Design Consulting
Brand Audit + Positioning
Trade Show Strategy
Logo Design + Iconography
Club Store Packaging Design
Sample Kits + Mailers
UX + UI Design