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The Founders of Zang Chocolate Are Fun, Feisty and Serious About Growth

Bringing a new product to the FMCG market is tough. You need the right product, partners and mindset. Here’s how the founders of Zang are getting it right.

Nadine Todd

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VITAL STATS

  • Players: Jethro Braun and Brett Horwitz
  • Company: Zang Chocolate
  • Launched: 2015
  • Visit:  www.zangchocolate.com

1Find the right product

Friends and part-time entrepreneurs since varsity, chocolate wasn’t the initial grand plan for Brett and Jethro. “We started a printing business together while we were still at UCT,” says Brett. “We even had a few good clients, including Truworths and Hello Kitty, but it was a saturated market, and we realised we didn’t have a passion for it.”

Neither of them was a chocoholic either, so how did the idea for Zang develop? “We were exposed to an international caffeinated chocolate brand,” explains Jethro. “We really took to the idea. We didn’t look at it as a new chocolate that we wanted to bring to the market, but as an exciting new energy product. We’re a caffeine and energy company, delivered in a chocolate and not a drink.”

In fact, in chocolate form the caffeine has a slow release, and the cocoa fat means it’s a consistent release. “One small chocolate has the equivalent of half a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine,” adds Jethro.

“We’d found something that we were excited about, and that we really believed the market would get behind as well.” It was time to find partners.

Related: How Do You Hit The Right Target Market For Your Business?

2Find a great partner

zang-chocolate

Zang’s success is based on a number of important partnerships that Brett and Jethro have developed. First, the entrepreneurs needed a chocolatier to help them produce the product.

“We spent eight months searching for the right chocolatier,” says Jethro. “We kept reaching out to companies and they’d say, ‘no, we can’t do what you want’.” Eventually, they found Cocoa Fair, an entrepreneurial chocolatier in Cape Town.

“They were interested in the idea and willing to work with us to develop it,” explains Brett. “We spent months working on the right recipe and developing the process of combining chocolate and caffeine.

“We went there after hours, working together and mixing batch after batch of chocolate.”

 

For help with developing your business plan, download our free template here.

Work together to create something new

Today, Cocoa Fair is the sole supplier of Zang, and the successful partnership is based on the fact that two entrepreneurial businesses were willing to work together to create something new and exciting.

Product in hand, Jethro and Brett now needed to find an investor.

“FMCG products are extremely expensive to launch; you can’t bootstrap this kind of business if you want to target mainstream retail.”

Armed with research and a great pitch, the partners attracted the attention of Ian and Garth Solomon from Evolve Capital, but they wouldn’t commit to an investment until they’d run the idea past a friend, Grant Rushmere, the founder of Bos Ice Tea. “Ian wanted to hear whether Grant thought the product would find a market in South Africa,” explains Brett.

In fact, not only would Grant love the idea, but he wanted to partner with the start-up as well. “Grant had been working on a brand for a relaxation drink. He had the concept design, branding and name developed, but he thought our chocolate was a better fit for it than the relaxation drink he had been working on.”

The young entrepreneurs jumped on the idea. Not only were they receiving capital from Evolve, but an industry expert whose advice would be invaluable, not to mention the brand that he had developed. And so Zang caffeinated chocolate was born.

Partner for success

Finally, the partners contacted Pick n Pay’s incubation programme, which supports entrepreneurial businesses, and were placed on the national retailer’s listings for head office and family-owned stores.

“Without these partners our business wouldn’t be where it is today,” says Jethro.

“Developing good relationships is key to success, but you need to find the right people with whom you can work and share a vision.”

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3Get noticed

zang-wrestlers

Zang had a soft launch at the end of 2014, with Jethro securing shelf and counter space in a few coffee shops, delis and forecourts in Cape Town. “We were looking specifically for places where we would be the only product on the counter or at the till, so that we’d get noticed,” says Jethro.

“You want people to feel like they’re seeing you everywhere. Bold packaging helps this, and so does placement.”

By April 2015, the business was ready for its official launch. “We needed to make a splash,” says Jethro. “Something that would get people talking.”

The activation was staged on First Thursday, and was based on massive nacho libre wrestlers giving people ‘pick me ups’ as the world’s first human taxi service. “We videoed it and put it on YouTube, but we received incredible local and international media coverage as well. It was fun, different and people wanted to talk about it and share it — the fact that we’d managed to come up with a concept that was a ‘world first’ meant we received international attention as well.”

At the final tally, R100 000 was spent on the activation, resulting in R300 000 worth of earned media. “Because it was editorial coverage, the earned media can be doubled as well,” says Brett. “That activation was worth R600 000.”

Keep convincing stores to stock you

And it did its job. People started talking about Zang. “Consumers wanted to try us, but more importantly, store buyers had heard of us,” says Jethro. “Even though we had a Pick n Pay listing, you still have to convince individual stores to stock you. For garage forecourts that can buy outside of head office listings, this makes even more of a difference.”

The business is being strategic about its messaging though. “Successful branding offers a simple but powerful message, and then builds on it,” explains Jethro. “First, we wanted to develop the idea that we were a Cape Town-based company, and the new kids on the block.

Develop a key differentiator

“Next was our key differentiator: We’re caffeinated chocolate. Once that message is entrenched, we can start working on the health benefits that we offer. We’re made from 100% cocoa butter, and therefore contain no palm oil.

“You need to build that brand message slowly; there’s no rush. You want people to understand and embrace your brand and message, and for that, you can’t bombard them with too much information at once.”

Related: 4 Keys To Boosting Your Growth Rate In 2017

4Focus on cash flow

Cash flow is essential for both start-ups and established businesses. “It’s a balancing act,” explains Brett.

“Too much cash sitting in stock is dangerous. You need cash flow, and you want to maintain shelf life and freshness.”

As a result, the business works on an inventory system that makes more frequent orders to avoid sitting on stock. “Cocoa Fair is also an entrepreneurial business that needs cash flow, so they want COD terms, but they’ve given us a favourable rate in exchange.”

Are you looking for business funding? Look through our funding and resources guide for young entrepreneurs here.

5Build your market

zang-chocolate-box

Even though Zang is on Pick n Pay’s main listing for head office and family-owned stores through the retailer’s incubator programme, Brett and Jethro don’t want to grow too quickly. “We don’t want to move too fast,” explains Brett.

“We need to learn the ‘Pick n Pay’ way and build a strong foundation before we grow further. Currently we’re on 600 listings. The system puts you on SAP, orders come through and you need to be able to deliver on them. If you don’t, you get a negative strike rating. That’s how products disappear off shelves and don’t get ordered again.”

“You need to be ready,” adds Jethro. “They opened us up to a large amount of stores. We listed with Pick n Pay and 300 orders for 300 stores came through. You need to make sure you’re ready for that kind of volume.”

“You can really damage your business and your brand if you get a listing, and orders come through, and you aren’t ready for it, either from a cash flow perspective, or because you can’t fill the order,” says Brett.

“The most important thing right now isn’t to grow our listings, but focus on the ones that we have. We need to saturate those listings, and then grow. We need to get our merchandising correct, and grow our base so that we can produce more to fill bigger orders — without damaging our cash flow. We’re in this for the long haul, and that takes strong foundations.”

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Branding

Move Your Brand Forward With Eye-Catching Vehicle Wraps

The Sign Africa Expo is Africa’s largest dedicated print and signage exhibition. Covering 13,000sqm and with the objective of attracting 6,000+ visitors, Sign Africa provides an ideal platform for visitors to investigate available business ventures, innovative products, technology, applications and education programmes for the signage and display industries in the sub-Saharan region. Entrance is free and the event is co-located with FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED and will take place from 12-14 September 2018 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.

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Business owners are constantly seeking ways to get their brands noticed. And with all the gigantic billboards, street pole advertisements and other media vying for consumers’ attention, it’s difficult to stand out. Enter vehicle wrapping, which is an effective promotional tool as it’s cost-effective, impactful and long-lasting.

‘Car branding will transform your vehicle or fleet into mobile billboards. Used for short-term promotions or long-term exposure, it is one of the more cost-effective advertising methods available. It is also a great option for personalisation or to improve the appearance of your vehicle,’ said said Manny De Souza from Wrap Vehicles.

Besides cost-effective general wraps for corporate fleets, custom vehicle wrapping offers special effects that create Instagram-worthy wraps that get brands noticed. Different textures such as chrome, wood grain, carbon fibre and a variety of metallic effects, glitter, ultra matte finishes and ‘sandpaper-like’ non-slip surface finishes are also available. One can also create pearlescent effects and even velvet, while colour changing vinyls also provide really unique wraps.

Vehicle graphics can also be tailor-made to suit any budget, allowing for options like partial wraps or small decals on elements of the transport such as the doors. A professionally installed wrap should last between five to seven years if properly maintained by regularly washing the vehicle. Many reputable wrapping companies offer warrantees on the wrap’s longevity.

Related: The Psychology of Colour in Marketing and Branding

Wraps also increase a vehicle’s value by protecting it from nicks and scratches. Then there’s the benefit of the conspicuous branding possibly making your vehicle less appealing to criminals.

Of course, you’ll have to ensure that you and your fleet drivers obey the rules of the road as reckless driving can damage your brand.

You can see vehicle wrapping solutions and business opportunities at the FESPA Africa and Sign Africa Expo at Gallagher Convention Centre from 12-14 September 2018.

Speed Wrap Challenge

An expo highlight is the Speed Wrap Challenge, a thrilling, live wrapping competition. Come along and watch experts compete against the clock for the title of champion. Vehicle wrapping companies can also enter their best wrappers. The challenge will take place on all three days of the expo. The first round will be at 10am and the final round will take place on Friday 14 September. For more information, visit: www.signafricaexpo.com/entrepreneur1.

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The featured image is credited to Wrap Vehicles.

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Branding

Personal Brand Or Business Brand: Which Is More Important?

Business today is all about relationships and the person behind the brand. The more the market knows the founder, the better their business performs in the market. But can we take this too far?

Jacques Du Bruyn

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If you’re like me, then you love reading online articles, opinion pieces and general books on the topics that you find interesting. It’s one of the ways that you can ensure that you keep your interest piqued and stay abreast of what’s going on in your industry. One of the topics that gets me thinking has always been the concept of branding.

It’s why I studied an undergraduate degree in marketing and I completed honours in brand management at Vega, the Brand Leadership School. I’ve always been curious to find out more. But one aspect of branding that hasn’t been given enough thought I believe is the relationship between the brand and the CEO of that brand.

Who should be more prominent?

It’s a straightforward question: Should the brand of the CEO or the brand of the business be more prominent?

What are the implications of the CEO’s brand being more prominent than the business’s brand? Similarly, what are the consequences of an unknown CEO where the business’s brand is the hero in the relationship?

Let’s perhaps start answering that question by talking about what a brand is. At university, you’ll be taught by your lecturer that Philip Kotler says a brand is a ‘name, term, sign, symbol (or a combination of these) that identifies the maker or seller of the product’. That’s technically correct. However, I’ve always believed that at the heart of branding lies perception. A brand is a perception. As marketers, we’re ultimately in the game of shaping positive perceptions, because perception sells.

Related: How Personal Branding Builds Self Awareness

I believe perceptions are shaped by three factors. What the brand tells us about itself (including what Philip Kotler mentions), what our acquaintances and friends tell us about the brand and what our personal experiences are with that brand.

Then there are the secondary factors that include where you were born, your cultural nuances, your history and so on. I’m sure it’s becoming clear that no two people can have the same perception. Nevertheless, perception matters and the art and science behind branding matters in shaping those perceptions.

So, then what’s more important? The brand of the CEO leading the business or the business’s brand? Depending on who you ask you’ll receive different answers.

CEO vs business brand

Let’s introduce two well-known South African brands into the conversation. Discovery and First National Bank. Both operate in the financial services industry, both are healthy brands — but chances are most of you can only name the CEO of one of them, and I’m guessing its Discovery.

That’s a typical example of CEO brand vs business brand. Adrian Gore, Discovery’s CEO, is an influential leader with a strong personal brand that works hand-in-hand with Discovery’s overarching brand. FNB’s CEO is Jacques Celliers, and in this instance, he’s mostly unknown to the general public. So, which then is more important? I spoke to a few thought leaders about this, and the general sentiment is mixed. Some believe a strong CEO brand does well for the business, others think the company comes first, and it’s first about the brand of the business. Personally, I believe it depends on the company and the health of 
the brand.

Let’s look at other examples; Apple and Steve jobs, Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Tesla and Elon Musk. All of these businesses, we can agree, are a success mainly because of the value that the CEO’s personal brand brings to the table. On the other hand, we have Coca-Cola, BMW and Microsoft. I bet most of you couldn’t name the CEOs of those companies off the cuff.

People do business with people

I believe that fundamentally people buy into people, not brands. That’s why I think there’s a strong case for a CEO with a solid brand. However, there are cons that exist. What happens when the CEO leaves? Has this CEO become so large that the business fails without them? After all, leadership is about passing the baton. In my opinion, Steve Jobs is the ultimate reason for Apple’s success, however he did a poor job of passing the baton. Luckily, Apple’s brand is strong enough to withstand uncertainty, but I think we can all agree that under Tim Cook, Apple has started to decline.

I used the example of FNB earlier because one of my favourite CEOs is Michael Jordaan. Under his leadership, FNB had what I like to call it’s ‘glory years’. They were simply unstoppable and every other bank in South Africa was struggling to keep up. Or at least that was the perception from the outside. Remember perceptions? Michael’s brand is strong, so much so that since his departure FNB has lost its story-telling innovative mojo.

Enter Bank Zero. An app-driven bank opening in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2018. Why is anyone even paying attention? Because it’s Michael Jordaan. His personal brand is strong enough to grab attention. If it was a no-name would we care as much? Would there be nearly as much hype?

We therefore have two sides to the coin. A CEO’s personal brand is incredibly important when the business’s brand needs an injection of credibility. But the CEO must be careful that he doesn’t become too big when credibility is formed or restored. After all, great leadership is about passing the baton and leaving a sustainable legacy. Which means the CEO has built a brand that the customers buy into. I think Coca-Cola, Microsoft and BMW have done brilliantly at this. Their brands are sustainable because it’s about the brand, not the CEO’s brand. I also think there’s a strong case for choosing the next CEO from within the current pool of employees of that business.

Related: 5 Steps To Becoming A More Recognisable Brand


The elements of a strong CEO brand

  1. 
A fearless leader who motivates his/her employees into action
  2. 
A leader whose vision is simple and easy to follow
  3. 
A leader who rallies not only his employees but customers and clients too
  4. 
A leader who isn’t afraid to be in the media and on social media.

On the business side, here is what you should keep top of mind when building your corporate brand:

  • Create a strong corporate identity. That doesn’t mean doing it yourself, get the professionals to do it. It’ll include your logo, collateral and how your brand 
lives online.
  • Create your experience. It’s incredibly important that what you say is also experienced by your potential and current clients. This includes user experience offline and online.
  • Run online thought leadership and PR. This is what builds credibility. It’s one thing for you to talk about yourself, but when others talk about you it builds your brand in a way that adds much needed credibility. This also increases your SEO because any online thought leader should be linking back to your website.
  • Lastly, drive brand integration through your value-chain. When your audience and stakeholders see your brand they know you and what to expect.

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Branding

They’re Your Rules, Break Them

Could your brand benefit from the surprise factor? If you can package your information into a ‘mystery’, you’ll hold your audience in the palm of your hand.

Douglas Kruger

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The phrase has become iconic, and even those who have never caught an episode are familiar with it: ‘Winter… is coming!’

Many viewers have a love-hate relationship with Game of Thrones. It is impeccably well made, and, as the most expensive television show ever produced per episode, visually stunning.

Yet the level of violence beggars belief. Even if you are not an especially squeamish viewer, the assembly-line massacre of leading characters is perpetually shocking. And therein lies at least part of the reason why the enterprise is so successful.

No, it’s not the gore. It’s the unpredictable nature of each new development. The good guys don’t necessarily win. The bad guys don’t necessarily lose. Upheaval and disruption rock the storyline at every turn, making it one of the least formulaic productions around. You simply don’t know who’s going to prevail and who’s going to perish colourfully, and that keeps fans coming back for more.

So why is it so attractive for a store to defy conventions and, in a sense, ‘betray’ expectations? And can a brand story make use of the same dynamic?

I did not see that coming

In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, authors Chip and Dan Heath describe the powerful communication technique of ‘breaking people’s guessing machines’.

Related: The 3 Blueprints For Starting A Business

To make communication genuinely riveting, simply organise the information into a mystery, something in which the recipient can’t tell the outcome in advance. It can be done with something as traditionally dusty as a university lecture. George R.R. Martin certainly did it in a medieval fantasy about warring kingdoms.

It can even be done in a sales pitch. In Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Babble founder Rufus Griscom is described giving a completely counterintuitive presentation as part of a sales pitch. He headlined his slide: ‘Five reasons you shouldn’t buy Babble’.

And there was no trick implied. The presentation covered precisely these ideas, and not in an ironic way. He went into detail about the obstacles the company was facing, and described why these hurdles could be a difficulty to investors.

So why did it work (and work it did!)? The answer is two-fold.

Initially, the novelty factor drew attention. How do you not listen to a presentation like that? Secondly, the executives evaluating the presentation were basically being covertly invited to problem-solve.

‘That’s not so bad!’ they would say, psychologically bypassing the ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ step and going straight into assumptive ownership. They then began discussing ways of overcoming the obstacles. It became a challenge to their abilities.

In all of these cases, the approach has been to break accepted conventions in order to ‘break the guessing machine’ of the audience. The net result is heightened engagement, sustained curiosity and delight upon the reveal of the ‘answer’. When you depart from the accepted formulas of communication, you create cognitive dissonance. The audience (despite themselves, in the case of Thrones viewers who might not like violence), have to know how this will turn out.

Breaking the rules makes you distinctive

Rules can create set expectations. Formulas and accepted approaches do the same.

When you break and betray the rules, the level of anticipation remains high. In communication, surprise is effective and often attractive.

Does your brand ever surprise? Or is it constantly communicating in ways that are so predictable as to be mildly sedating? In your pitches and presentations, does your copy stand out? Or suffer death-by-predictability? What might you accomplish if you tampered with the rules on purpose, in order to up-end expectations? Do you have what it takes to break the human guessing machine? If you do, you just might achieve true brand distinction.

Related: 3 Strategies To Implement A Culture Of Innovation In Your Business (Without Blowing Billions)

Beyond mere words

The technique of ‘breaking the human guessing machine’ is not just limited to pitches and presentations. Your entire brand tells a story too, and with each new initiative, each new enterprise that it undertakes, it adds to the total tale in the public consciousness.

I contend that brands in South Africa tend to under-utilise the possibilities available to them. In an understandable quest to be taken seriously, they speak the language of ‘dependable business,’ rather than ‘exciting venture.’

A ‘dependable business’ has the narrative of stasis. There is no movement. An ‘exciting venture’ by contrast, speaks in vivid movement and attractive energy. It has purpose, mission and meaning.

The key to actualising this idea is theatre. And to understand the power of theatre in a brand’s narrative, let’s go straight to what must be the greatest example of brand theatre the business landscape has ever seen.

‘Here, hold my space shuttle’

Imagine you owned two organisations. One created space shuttles. The other made electric sports cars. What if you launched one of your cars out of earth’s atmosphere, using your own rockets? What if you then set the car into an orbit around the planet, with a little spaceman mannequin hanging out the side, playing a David Bowie hit as he cruised through eternity? Do you think such a theatrical initiative might just make it into every newspaper on the planet?

In doing just this, Elon Musk led the way. He demonstrated just how far we can depart from stuffy brand narrative to tell an exciting story, a surprising story. … And what will he do next?!

The very fact that we even ask such a question is proof of the concept.

It’s not about big budgets

Naturally, not every business has the budget to tinker with near-earth orbit. But theatre doesn’t have to be expensive. Have you ever dropped by a luxury car dealership, to have your cappuccino served to you with the brand’s logo drawn into the froth? That cost nothing but a little imagination.

Have you seen the number of YouTube views BMW achieved with their ‘drift-mob’ video in Cape Town? It runs into the millions, and growing.

Achieving surprise and telling a distinctive brand story need not be exorbitantly expensive. Kulula sets themselves apart with their inflight announcement. My all-time favourite is still: ‘In the event of an emergency, please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting your child. If you have more than one child, please pick your favourite now.’

This month, what if you challenged yourself to think about the key word ‘surprise’? What could your brand do that is unexpected and delightful, that will have people turning to one another and saying, ‘That was awesome!’, while still remaining true to your mission and vision? In fact, what if you started by looking over your mission statement, and then asked, ‘How could this be done in a way that is publicly surprising?’

Theatre can set you apart. It can make you what US speaker Joe Callaway calls, ‘A Category of One.’ And it only requires that you use a little imagination, then have the courage to be different on purpose. Your goal is simple, emotional impact. Wow factor. Nothing more intellectual than that.

New toys for rule-breakers

There are many other opportunities for rule-breakers to create strategic disruption. You might ask why things have always been done in a certain way. You might carry out an exercise in which you ask what ideal end-usage looks like for your client, then challenge your team to try to achieve that goal, using the phrase, ‘Couldn’t we just …?’ You might even ask insightful questions about what you actually sell, and not what product you believe you’re selling. All of these are useful exercises for the courageous maverick, and all can lead to different forms of productive rule-breaking.

For this month, though, pose yourself this single challenge only: What could we do in our brand narrative that might have a Game of Thrones-level impact?

In our household, that looks like this:

  • Douglas: ‘I can’t believe we keep watching this show!’
  • Wife: ‘Me neither!’
  • Douglas: ‘That was so shocking!’
  • Wife: ‘Unbelievable.’
  • Douglas: ‘Want to watch the next one?’
  • Wife: ‘Absolutely!’

… And that’s what you’re after.

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