Last week, our Head of Creative and Strategy, Dave King, chatted about branding and food provenance at The Knowledge Bank, delivered by Scotland Food & Drink Partnership.

Provenance is more than a place

Dave’s talk, part of the Profiting from Provenance session, focused on what we do best – getting to the guts.

On the face of it, food provenance is about where the food is from. Scottish products aren’t shy about showing their colours these days. It’s common to see saltires on packaging and places in names – from Scottish salmon to Ayrshire bacon. But how can you take it further?

The origin story

It all starts with seeing provenance as more than a place…

The origin story

Your brand is a shortcut for shoppers. A hook that helps people remember you. From a brand point of view then, provenance isn’t a place. Provenance is your origin story.

It’s Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider. It’s Batman’s mum and dad getting gunned down in a Gotham alleyway. It’s your blockbuster biopic peeking behind the scenes of your formative years.

Closing the gap

Closing the gap

From Rocketman to Ray, biopics sell like crazy. They add context, layers, and depth to a star’s story but, most importantly, they reveal truth where there was mystery. And they add some much-needed empathy where there was apathy.

Getting back to food and drink for a second – the modern shopper is about as disconnected from food and drink production as we are from celebrities. A good origin story can close that gap, helping us remember you and choose you.

It takes confidence and transparency to show off your origin story, and that gives us shoppers confidence in the quality of your products and the ethics behind them.

But is it relevant?

But is it relevant

Work forward from your origin story and back from the consumer story. Rinse and repeat til they overlap in an interesting way. If you do, you’ll find you suddenly have something with genuine and intriguing depth and substance – we call it guts. You’ll have something people might just believe in and connect with, something uniquely yours that couldn’t belong to anyone else.

The relevance of your origin story is where your power really lies. How strong a link can you find between your origin story and your consumer proposition?

While competitors will always be trying to muscle in on your consumer proposition and your product range, it’s very hard for them to take your origin story with it. Can you honestly imagine trying to sell another story about a bloke getting bitten by a spider and turning into a superhero?

All killer no filler

All killer no filler

Like any good biopic, you need to find the drama – think of it like the Rocky IV training montage. Ok, the metaphor isn’t perfect – Rocky Balboa is, unfortunately for planet Earth, not a real boxer – but the montages are the perfect example of cherry-picking the interesting bits in a process. You don’t have to summarise the whole thing, you just need to find the little gems that tell people something about you. Rocky chops wood and runs in the snow, surrounded by his family and friends, while Ivan Drago is rigged up to a high-tech machine surrounded by stone-faced scientists with syringes. We’re supposed to believe Rocky is therefore more authentic,
harder-working – the everyman hero.

Find your provenance’s version of that. Who are you as a brand, really?

Your provenance story will be different if you’re, for example, a down to earth, homely brand or, say, a cutting-edge tech enterprise. The crucial part is to find your own version.

Provenance is not for sharing

Provenance is not for sharing

At a basic level, provenance can lift the whole Scottish food and drink industry. Saltires on stickers and place names on products are definitely effective. But if you dig a little deeper and find a real connection between your brand’s origin story and consumer proposition there’s still plenty of room to stand out with substance.

Real provenance should be yours and yours alone. Real provenance should give you an edge against the competition.

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