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The Business of Food

by Jennifer Barney


Transitioning from your old label
2-min read

When you already have a big audience, changing anything about your brand is tricky. You risk losing them or worse, alienating them. And if it’s not hard enough as a digitally native brand, it’s doubly hard when you’re supplying stores through distributors.
Let’s dig into success story Kween’s conversion to Oat Haus as a How-To on operationally transitioning your brand in all the places it touches. 
But before we get into operations *yawn* Kween did not just spring the change on their fans. There was significant build up and fair warning that “something big” was happening. Content was curated across all social in countdown style. For most of the Kweendom, no one knew what the big surprise was. For a select group, those included as “close friends” on Instagram, were tipped off that it had to do with naming at least. This is because the founders surveyed them. 
Lesson #1: include your tribe
Through close friends’ stories on Instagram, the founders were able to get actionable feedback. Remember, your most avid consumers are part of the community you are building, and you can use this community to bounce ideas off of. For example, when they were considering changing the product name from Granola Butter to Oat Butter they got a resounding “yuck” from the close friends, which was good to know. 
Lesson #2: include your retailers
The other community you are building with your brand is collaborators. Retail buyers fall into this group. (Be careful to treat retail buyers as subject matter experts and not deciders - if they are dictating colors and fonts that is an overstep.) Buyers love to be included in the process and it brings news to your brand and shows that you are paying attention and care about success. 
Once you’ve gone to print, done the photoshoots, and created your new website offline, coordinating ecommerce and brick and mortar conversion will require organization. 
E-comm conversion
For D2C you are in control. Consumer confusion when ordering your old brand and receiving the new can be mitigated with a note tucked into the box as explanation. Other wholesale accounts like Thrive Market or Faire should be communicated to early on about the change, but you are in charge of your product pages so it’s really on you. 
Amazon is a whole ‘nother story
…as explained in this previous post. A new UPC means a new listing and you’ll lose your old reviews, even if it’s the same product. Get help or risk your mental health in getting your brand and product pages all converted correctly and in a timely manner. 
Communication is key. Let retailers and distributors know what you are doing and once you have design files, send those to your retailers as soon as possible. For product in distribution with KeHE and UNFI you want to get a handle on what is in inventory at each warehouse and start tracking that week-to-week with enough of a trend so that you can predict the number of inventory weeks remaining. For warehouses that are slow moving or have excess inventory - work with those supplier managers to discount the product heavily so it will sell through. You can do this with a steep MCB (manufacturers credit back). It’s preferable to purge all the old label than have to do a return to vendor - in all instances!
Thanks to Ali and Eric at Oat Haus for all these great How-To tips on implementing a rebrand in market!
All my best,
How to get more out of User generated content (UGC) 
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