The Swallow Tailed Hummingbird. Like most dynamic micro brands they are small agile and very fast. Image courtesy of Flavio Cruvinel Brandao

So, I have been obsessing recently about cool and funky little brands like Method, Hendricks, Riverford Organic Vegetables, Dorset Cereals, Good Energy and the like.

And I thought I might draw a few conclusions about brands like these since they have alot in common.

The intention is to provide some learning for brand owners and agencies alike.

I have decided to call this little bunch of businesses dynamic micro brands.
This is in part a homage to Hugh at Gaping Void – he describes the brands he has been involved in (English Cut and Stormhoek) as global micro brands. But not all the brands I have been thinking about are global and I like the ‘dynamic’ word.
It underlines their agility and speed of growth. It also points to the observation that what they lack in presence they deliver in potency. Here I am also making a slight nod there to WPP’s Brandz model that categorises brands by their presence and voltage. It is just that I prefer the word ‘potency’.
Dynamic micro brands are going places and they are often going there in dull or commodified markets where they offer real difference for the consumer and potentially high margins for the business.
Here are four things that these dynamic micro brands have in spades. I suspect I shall worry out others as I collect more examples.
1) They are dripping in authenticity
This takes many forms. It could be heritage, it could be expertise or it could be a damn good story about why the brand was set up in the first place.
Hendrick’s has little heritage (it was founded in 2000) but masses of distilling expertise drawn from the Grant family, not to mention the pure scottish spring water.
Riverford Organic Vegetables are run by a farmer supplying produce from his and neigbouring farms, it is not an intermediary brand like Abel and Cole.
A former dynamic micro brand, Innocent, draws authenticity from the story about its founders asking their first customers to vote on whether they should leave their jobs and make smoothies for a living.
And Dorset Cereals are and always have been, made in Dorset.
2) Product performance is paramount
If we have learned anything in our post Cluetrain brandscape it is that nothing but nothing can make up for a poor product anymore. Marketing communications can do loads for a business but they are losing their mercurial ability to paper over the cracks of a failing product with a bloody good ad.
Dorset Cereals packaging looks marvelous however, it is not there to cover up a poor product but to amplify its quality.
Method’s products are environmentally benign but the damn things work thanks to the efforts of Adam Lowry, the co-founding chemist.
And as for Good Energy, no ifs, no buts all its electricity is from renewable sources.
3) They pack a point of view
This is the position idea I am so fond of and many people out there have been working with, which I am enormously flattered by.
Method believe that you can’t clean people’s hands, clothes or houses at the expense of the cleanliness of the environment, that is why they call themselves ‘people against dirty’.
Hendricks hate the orthodox world of gin manufacture and marketing.
While Good Energy believe that you can only call yourselves a ‘green’ energy company if you have nothing to do with electricity generation that uses non-renewables.
4) There is an idea behind the brand not just a bunch of brand ideas
And these points of view manifest themselves in real brand ideas, where the idea leads everything the brand does and has a pretty strong influence over the business itself.
Hendrick’s embrace the ‘unusual’ in all its many forms. Dorset cereals love life’s simpler pleasures and help you enjoy them every single day. While for Riverford Farms what really matters performance in the kitchen.
And the reality is that these are pretty good rules for any brand to recognise these days:
– Authenticity that gives the brand credibility
– Product performance that is paramount and about which the business is fanatical
– A position about something we care about
– And a big generous brand idea that governs everything the brand does and makes its world a simpler place for the business and a more rewarding place for its customers
Oh, and here are a few charts to help bring the whole thing to life.

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