Great branding deserves to be celebrated – whether it’s our own work or the branding of local businesses we buy from. As a branding agency in Sussex we’re surrounded by great brands so we are creating a series of articles featuring “Sussex brands we love” in homage to some of the great (non-Tomango) branding work out there.
In the first of our series about Sussex brands we love, we took a look at The Brewhouse Project in Arundel.
Of course, when you have a pint in one hand it’s quite natural to have a bag of crisps in the other, which brings us neatly on to the Sussex Crisp Company.
Note that the Sussex Crisp Company isn’t a client of ours, so we’re assessing them from the outside (quite literally as we were in a beer garden).
This means we don’t really know whether they’re a success or not – because we don’t know what market they intended to target or how many of those customers they’re actually attracting.
But what we can tell you for a fact is that the crisps are delicious.
About the Sussex Crisp Company
A relative newcomer to the crisp market, the Sussex Crisp company was founded by Andy Hearnshaw and Mark Farris in early 2020, though they started developing their local flavours some years beforehand.
They supply crisps wholesale and direct to customers through their online shop (with a minimum order of 24 packs).
Their speciality is sourcing flavours from Sussex suppliers, such as Yellowcoate cider vinegar and Sussex Charmer cheese.
And, by the sounds of some of their Google reviews, they’ve worked hard to develop a range of flavours which are really delighting their customers:
The Sussex Crisp Company’s brand positioning
This brand is all about taking the sumptuous flavours of Sussex and scattering them over potatoes to create crisps with a greater depth of flavour than your average brands.
They not only use local ingredients, but explain exactly which suppliers they come from, giving a real feel of the story behind each flavour: https://www.sussexcrisps.com/flavours/. This works particularly well to set them apart from competition from national brands.
By weight, they retail at more than double the cost of Walkers multipack crisps. And they are still significantly more expensive than the higher end supermarket crisps, such as Tyrrells. Clearly they are positioning themselves as a premium brand and, on the whole, their marketing aligns to this.
We’ve picked out a few elements of their brand identity to take a closer look at.
It’s a great name. It does exactly what it says on the tin (or in this case, the packet).
Incorporating the word ‘Sussex’ gives their Sussex customers a sense of ownership and buying from a local supplier. Further afield, the idea of Sussex brings to mind picturesque villages, historic castles and famous seaside resorts. Customers like brands who reflect who they are (or would like to be), therefore giving them the feel of being part of Sussex life, wherever they actually are, will appeal to many people.
And becoming a Dukedom again in 2018 has only added a further gloss to the county’s reputation.
It’s also a great logo. It’s shaped like a crisp, though this isn’t immediately obvious. Then there’s another mini-crisp inside it behind the “The”. The crisp shape is also used for other purposes, for example to form buttons on the homepage of their website:
There are clear references to the sea: the deep blue background, fluid font choice and the ‘wave’ underlining the final word. This wave design device is also used in their strapline to emphasise the word “Sussex”.
The sea also features in many of the Sussex images on the packaging.
The logo’s text is in gold, a colour associated with luxury as well as the golden colour of well-cooked crisps – reflecting the depth of flavour and quality of the product.
Tone of voice
There is something slightly formal about the tone of the website’s text content, for example they avoid using contractions (“it is” instead of “it’s”).
This gives the impression that this company is serious about the crisps they produce; they aren’t a brand who uses highly exuberant or overly-familiar language to describe their wares. The Sussex Crisp Company lets their flavours do the talking.
On their social media accounts the language is, appropriately, less formal.
The website’s design is elegantly simple in appearance and structure, using lots of Sussex imagery to reinforce the local feel of the brand.
The simple structure and easy navigation make this a pleasurable website to use. They haven’t given in to the temptation to become a ‘quirky’ brand – for example the cookie notice doesn’t extol the virtues of crisps over cookies and the 404 page doesn’t display a gif of someone stamping on a pack of crisps.
Having positioned this as a positive, we do wonder though whether the website could get across a bit more personality. Perhaps there could be more original photography (including of the two founders) and storytelling on the website, maybe even a blog where they could post updates. This would increase engagement, particularly for consumers, and deepen their connection with the brand.
Generally speaking, their website has a good balance between appealing to trade and consumer purchasers. While we suspect that most of their sales are to trade, they are clearly recognising the importance of building brand awareness and loyalty among consumers too.
One omission from the website we spotted is a list of stockists. As a consumer, this means it will be difficult to know where to go to purchase the crisps (unless you want to buy a case of 24 online). Including a stockists list, while adding a bit of an admin overhead, would also give the brand an opportunity to encourage consumers to become brand advocates and ask their local shops to become stockists.
We also noted that the website is using the domain sussexcrisps.com. It appears that the business also owns sussexcrisps.co.uk but have chosen not to redirect that domain to their website. While not the end of the world, it does mean that if someone has a guess and types in the .co.uk version of the website address, they won’t find it.
Product packaging isn’t just about telling the customer what flavour the crisps are, it has other roles to play:
- Catching the customer’s eye on a shelf full of packets of other well-known crisp brands.
- Giving a clear, simple and honest message about what’s inside.
- Being authentic about the brand and what it stands for.
- Being a practical container for the crisps – from both the retailer’s and consumer’s point of view.
- Meeting regulatory requirements (the boring bits).
Like the website, the packaging is richly illustrated with eye-catching pictures of famous Sussex scenes.
They use conventional crisp-flavour colours to surround their featured Sussex image (in the above example, red for ready salted). This makes it easy for the purchaser (and server) to grab the right flavour.
The front of the pack has minimal text, focusing on the key messages about its Sussex heritage and hand cooked quality.
As well as the required ingredient information, the back of the pack is used as another opportunity to emphasise the brand’s Sussex roots. There’s also a clever cross-selling panel suggesting another flavour to try.
They have some great posts about where you can purchase the crisps (local stockists and further afield such as the Glastonbury festival), but (in our humble opinion) could do with more variety. We’d love to see some images that show the ‘face’ of Sussex crisps (videos of the latest batch being baked, visits to their flavour suppliers, that sort of thing). Also, on a more technical point, some of the posts feel a little rushed, such as @ tags not being set up properly.
If we were advising Sussex Crisps, we would also encourage more interaction with other Sussex-related accounts and posts, to help reinforce their messaging of being a brand very much rooted in their local area.
And if we’re being hyper-critical, the account bios could be better optimised, and it isn’t best practice to have your logo as both your Facebook profile and cover image. This is perhaps missing an opportunity to communicate more about the story behind the business.
These are further opportunities to reinforce this brand’s positioning, and as a premium brand, the Sussex Crisp Company will want to focus on consumer loyalty and advocacy – persuading both existing and new customers that their crisps are worth paying extra for.
Their customers need to feel special and part of a community, which will make them far more likely to introduce friends to the brand or ask their local shop to start stocking it.
Social media is an ideal way of achieving these objectives.
The website has an email marketing sign up form (good), however since we signed up to it five months ago, we haven’t received any emails (ah, not so good).
This could be because they’re in the process of building up their email marketing database and will start to use it once it reaches a certain number of subscribers.
Email marketing could be a good opportunity for a brand like Sussex Crisps, perhaps more so on the trade side than direct to consumers *. Even if just used once a quarter, it would be a great way of maintaining connection with the brand, announcing new flavours, sharing special offers and generally reinforcing the brand positioning.
* A side note is that the email marketing sign up form doesn’t ask you to indicate whether you’re trade or a customer. Capturing this information would mean the Sussex Crisp Company could tailor their email marketing for each audience.
Food for thought
As far as we can see, The Sussex Crisp Company doesn’t have a Google Ads strategy, but perhaps they should…
Currently, when you search for “sussex crisp company”, Google Shopping Ads are led by Kent Crisps, followed by various other competitors:
The risk is that the ads stand out much more than the company’s organic website listing and, therefore, steal potential business from them.
This is a perfect example of when it’s a good idea to run Google Ads against searches for your own company name. This would be cheap to do, work well to offset the issue of people clicking on the Shopping Ads and enhance brand awareness.
The ingredients of a great brand
The Sussex Crisp Company have a fantastic product which is brilliantly positioned to appeal to their local, and wider, audience. They have all the essential ingredients of a highly successful brand, and this is why we love it.
Right, we’re off to the pub to buy another pack …
Oh, and if you’d like us to turn our critical (and complementary) eye to your brand, please get in touch.