Updated: Jan 15, 2019
I've recently rebranded my Munching Mutts slow feeder bowls, and it's been an experience! In this blog post, I'll share the thought process behind the change, the steps I took to make that change, and the new marketing materials we've developed to promote the brand.
Munching Mutts bowls have become my best seller, and they've helped dogs and cats eat more slowly for a few years now. So why re-brand? Well, first and foremost, "Munching Mutts" Makes you think dog, right? After tweaking the original design, we came up with a version that seemed to work flawlessly for cats as well, so I wanted the new name to be more generic.
Choosing a New Product Name / Brand
I wanted the new product/brand name to be one that was not species specific but that had personal meaning to me as the creator / maker. So I called them The Bandit Bowl, after my rescue JRT Bandit, who inspired me to create the first of my slow feeders when I couldn't find a commercially available product that met my standards. Plus, he's adorable, right?
Designing a Logo
So here's one place I almost went horribly wrong! I had this idea in my head of a logo that centered around an artistic, calligraphic heart with a pawprint that would double as the "B" in "Bandit." But I'm a potter and not an artist, so I played around with the design for several months but never quite liked what I came up with. Finally, I created a brand logo that referenced the bowl and was simple yet recognizable based on the advice of a wise young woman that fate has been kind enough to bring into my life (Thank you, Stephanie!).
Introducing the Brand
Getting the new brand out in the world is an ongoing endeavor. Here are the steps we've taken so far:
I designed entirely new packaging for the product, which may yet be tweaked again. In the past, each bowl was wrapped in layers and layers of bubble wrap for shipping. From here out, each Bandit Bowl will go out in the world protected in an interior box stamped with our logo) and a tri-fold, 4x4 brochure about the product. This change will helpf facilitate storage, inventory identification for order fulfillment, and potential distribution via FBA Amazon should I decide to go that route.
We set up a @BanditBowl account on IG and started posting pictures of my adorable Bandit and his antics, as well as information about the bowls.
We set up a Quarterly Giveaway where product users can win free stuff by tagging @SusanOHanlonPottery and @BanditBowl on social media and including the #BanditBowl.
We launched the re-branded product at the Greater Philadelphia Pet Expo in January, 2019, where we met lots of great people who loved our product, and where Bandit got tons of loving and made lots of new two- and four-legged friends.
What's Next for the BanditBowl?
I've had such incredible response to this product, and I really want to get them into the hands of pet owners everywhere who can use them to help their dogs or cats eat more slowly, avoid gastro-intestinal distress, and minimize the risk of dangerous bloat. I really need to be as efficient as possible in everything I do, so I needed to look at not only where / how I sell them, but also the processes behind making and packaging them. Here are some additional changes I've made or will be making:
I've always donated bowls to reputable rescue organizations who request them for raffles, fundraisers, etc. I think rescue animals have a higher incidence per capita of gobbling their food, though, so I'm going to proactively seek out rescues who can use my bowls to help their cause or their resident animals. I've set up a new formal system whereby I donate 1 bowl to a rescue for every 20 bowls I sell via my website. Do good, feel good, right?
My making process to date has involved reacting to orders from customers. This makes the production and glazing processes go more slowly. It's much easier to throw 20 bowls in the same size at one time than switch between sizes ordered, and it's MUCH faster to glaze 20 bowls in one glaze than split them up between 6 different glazes. So I'm going to offer in-stock inventory on my selling platforms and try to avoid Made-To-Order purchases whenever possible. I'll have to build up and store more inventory, but I'm expanding the studio to help accommodate that need as well.
I revamped my glazes so each of my finishes is a one-dip glaze process vs. a multi-step glazing adventure. This will help speed up my glazing and also provide more consistent results for customers who order a bowl and then want another (or a flat-bottomed bowl for water) to match.
I also revamped my website, purchased BanditBowl and associated domains, and am giving this product it's own page in my online store. I'll need to figure out tagging, SEO Optimization, social media marketing, getting my product linked from affiliates, etc., but my mantra is simple "I've got all the time I need to do what I need to do." It's worked pretty well for me thus far, and I can't spend all of my time in the basement throwing pots. There's no sunshine down there!
I plan to pursue some distribution in small retail boutiques (not the big chains, because I have a hard time keeping up on orders sometimes as it is!).
Clearly, getting my new brand out in the world will be an ongoing endeavor. Whew! I'm tired already just thinking about all I need to do. Better get to work!
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