Grenade is an innovative sports and energy brand that has grown rapidly since launching in 2010.  

The company is owned by Alan & Juliet Barratt, friends of Virgin Unite, and supporters of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean. Grenade products are sold in over 100 countries and the brand has a huge following ranging from professional athletes, fitness enthusiasts and military personnel worldwide. We recently spoke to Alan and Juliet about Grenade, how they’ve built their brand into a global success, and about what top tips they think are most important to share with new companies wanting to strengthen their brand. 

Tell us about your relationship with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship:
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean has been an incredible outlet for us to give back. We are trying to ensure that new entrepreneurs and start-ups don’t make the same mistakes we’ve made over time. We want to help entrepreneurs get further, faster and believe in paving the way for other entrepreneurs. Recently we’ve been volunteering as mentors to new start-ups.

It’s branding month here at Virgin. Tell us how much you have branding to thank for the success of Grenade?  
The Grenade business was set up to stand out. The sports nutrition market was very crowded with white tubs and names no one could remember. The grenade shaped container and the logo stood out and made people notice us. However, this may get initial sales, but it’s the product credibility that gives you a viable long term business. It’s easier to get someone to buy something once – it’s the resales that are important. The success of Grenade is due to great branding but also keeping it fresh, engaging with consumers, exciting NPD and availability. It’s important to do it all. Grenade has an emotional connection with our customers. This is something that is earnt and we will work hard to keep it!

Virgin Unite, Grenade

How much do first impressions count with branding? How successful can a rebrand be? 
First impressions are key - you only get one chance to make a first impression. Once images are out there, they will be around for a long time so get the branding right before launch. I have seen marketing materials where the brand name is spelt incorrectly, or when there are grammatical errors – this really does reflect negatively on the brand. If you don’t care enough to get it right, other people won’t either. Rebranding is of course possible, but we think that it is more about refining. You need to keep your loyal consumers onside. 

What are the top tips you would give to a new start-up with respect to branding? 
Always stay true to your brand. Don’t try and appeal to everyone. We would rather have 50 per cent who love Grenade and 50 per cent that hate it than 100 per cent who really don’t show any opinion. Don’t rush the launch. Be happy with your branding and think about where your business could go. 

Virgin Unite, Grenade

How important is it to know your target audience and their personality traits? 
Again, this is key – it can dictate the products you launch, the language you use and the places you advertise. We suggest you create personas of your customer.  I.e. Jon is a 24 year old male who lives at home with his parents. He plays football weekly and is very brand aware. He has an iPhone, Mac and regularly attends gigs. He works in a gym as a PT and trains four times per week. He has a good group of friends and the gym where they socialise. They do go out to clubs but drinking isn’t massively important etc... Carry out focus groups where possible and ask for feedback on new products, flavours etc. Engaging your audience is important. Know who your customer follows on social media and ensure you use appropriate images and language to appeal to them.

Who do you look to as "brand leaders"?  
Branson of course, but also Apple, Red Bull, Nike. Red Bull really set the standard. The product isn’t great, but none of their marketing is about the taste ingredients, it’s all about the feeling, the experience and the emotional connection.