In the first of a new series, Dr Paul Stead interviews design thinkers, design doers and entrepreneurs to discover first-hand how they use design to grow their businesses.
When one thinks of energy drinks, no doubt Red Bull, Monster and Lucozade spring to mind, in what is a rapidly developing sector that is forecast to be worth $72bn by 2024.
So, given this dominance by global players with very deep pockets, it’s surprising to find British entrepreneur William Storey, CEO of Rich Energy, gatecrash their party with an audacious approach to global brand expansion.
As you may have seen in the press, Rich Energy has gone overnight from a niche British brand to global player. And while it’s still very much ‘work in progress’, by the end of 2019 more than 700 million people will know the name Rich Energy Haas.
What William has effectively done is create a global brand presence on the back of the F1 franchise. However, rather than enter the market in a test/learn methodology, he has gone ‘all in’, and is now in the enviable position of having to manage demand across the globe.
William has already gone on record to say: ‘This is now Chapter 2 of the Rich Energy strategic plan’, and he is now ‘taking on Red Bull – off the track.’
So, what are the design insights and steps taken to get here?
William Storey: It’s all about the product, the packaging, the naming, the brand, the activation. Actually, it’s all about winning, and being the best in the world.
So, now you’ve got the drink right, just how did you create the name, the brand, and the look and feel?
That was really easy. I live and work in Richmond, I love Richmond Park, I grew up seeing the stags battling in autumn. It was simple – it was all around me every day! I just worked with a number of very talented graphic designers who brought my vision to life.
And how did you decide on the black and gold colour palette, the identity and the design of the brand?
Again, it was relatively easy … once we’d shortened Richmond to ‘Rich’ … added ‘Energy’ … given the brand horns (rather than wings) … then the colour palette was very straightforward. It had to be black and gold because Rich and Richmond are both premium, both world-class, and there’s something timeless about that colour combo which just speaks quality.
How long did it take to get the packaging designed?
Ahhha … that’s always harder than it looks. We needed the product to work on multiple levels. It has to shout quality when in the hand and on the bar waiting to be poured; it has to stand out in the chiller cabinet and on the retailers’ shelves. It has to say, ‘look at me – I’m serious, I’m adult, I’m premium, and above all, I’m British.’
And on the adult positioning – one thing you need to know is we are the only energy drink to support the sugar tax … we really want our product to be enjoyed by adults – and not consumed by kids.
So, talk to me about your entry into F1 and the relationship with Haas?
Everyone sees this as a big jump, but for me it was a natural progression. I’ve been building towards this all my life. First, by being a boxing promoter, (from the SAS to Golovikin) I’ve organised events, concerts, and sponsored West Ham women’s team. We even tried to buy the Force India team when it came up for sale!
So, F1 has to be the natural global platform as it instantly puts us alongside our competitors. And when you think about Haas, it’s such a great fit because like us they are the newcomer, an upstart taking on the establishment and driven to win.
They were fifth in the constructor’s championship in 2018, and this year we’ve got the new Ferrari engine, which is going to make us very competitive. And let’s not forget how stunning the new car is with its new F1 livery. We are the smartest looking car on the grid.
So, what’s next for the brand?
You’ll have to wait and see. All I can say now is we are incredibly busy behind the scenes building global partnerships, building infrastructure, so we can leverage this amazing opportunity. It’s like we’ve bought our kid a new school uniform but it’s 10 sizes too big! We now need to grow into it.
This is clearly a high-risk/high-reward strategy and not for the faint hearted. That said, using an established franchise to propel one’s brand onto a global stage has to be applauded as it can instantly accelerate awareness, uptake and pull-through.
Remember though, the ‘devil is in the detail’, you need deep pockets to prime the pump and it requires lots of energy, passion and commitment from leadership.