Spoon Meets: The Ambassadors P2

Spoon’s brand and packaging design has evolved over the years. For our recent packaging design refresh, credit goes to Darren Foley and his business partner Natalie Chung who helped us to better communicate our brand ethos to a wider audience of breakfast lovers and beyond.

Hear's what Darren Foley, founder of FLY brand and communications and former MD at Pearlfisher has to say about Spoon…

Hi Darren, please can you tell us a little bit about your background and your previous experience working at the famous Pearlfisher’s managing director.

Hi Annie, I started out in the design industry in 1986 working as a junior designer for a small London agency. During my career I’ve worked at the large creative services group, Holmes & Marchant, a start up, 1HQ, as well as the globally respected creative agencies, Brandhouse and Pearlfisher. I was at Pearlfisher for nearly 15 years (the last six as Managing Director) where I led a team of 60 people, delivering iconic work for clients such as Absolut Vodka, Green & Black’s, Waitrose, Cawston Press, Jim Beam, Cadbury and Innocent.


What do you get up to these days?

For the past 18 months I have been running my own brand and design consultancy, FLY, based in Devon and working with clients in the UK and beyond. Our aim is to unlock the potential of ambitious brands and businesses through strategic thinking and design. In the short time we’ve been around, we’ve enjoyed a fantastic partnership with SPOON (!), as well as businesses in the financial sector, healthy snacks, and B2B services.


You have been quoted as saying that ‘design is the little brother to advertising.’ Does this still remain true today? How are the two industries evolving in a time when there’s been no better time to start up your own food company.

Yes I think it is still true. There’s no doubt that the advertising industry has had to adapt a lot in recent years to both client demands for a holistic, joined-up comms approach and the impact from Google and Facebook. However, in many instances, advertising agencies are still seen as the primary ‘brand guardian’, although branding and design agencies have made significant inroads in this area in recent years.

I actually don’t think that the design and advertising industries are actually evolving very much and this is a fundamental part of the problem they are facing. There’s a heavy investment in time honoured processes and infrastructure and that’s just not cutting it for a lot of clients. Clients want creativity and agility, as well as for everything to be joined-up, and many of the current players just can’t do this or are very slow to adapt. This has led to more virtual agencies like us starting up, with the big picture defined at the outset and then the right skills brought in at the right time. With the food industry growing and evolving at a phenomenal rate, and with the pressure to get to market fast, new emerging food entrepreneurs definitely need agile creative partners.


How do new food brands with a small or zero marketing budget carve out a space in the market and compete on the shelves against the big corporates?

It’s essential that any brand, food or otherwise, clearly understands its purpose, its philosophical heartbeat and why it has decided to make a difference in its specific market. Once this is established it’s then a question of being as resourceful as possible with the tools that you have at your disposal and to disrupt the category. This doesn’t mean being different for different’s sake, it means knowing what you’re challenging and then using everything you have available to bang that drum. Packaging is obviously a key tool to challenge the big corporates, as a challenger brand will be able to do things the large organisations are just too scared to do. Packaging also lives on shelves on online 24/7 so it’s a great form of brand advertising, but social media and the web can’t be overlooked either and a real commitment has to be made to connect with consumers in a meaningful, relevant manner on these channels.

What are consumers looking for in the food brands that they buy today?

I think the key words are authenticity and quality. I think it’s the designer’s job to make a brand look desirable but if a brand lacks authenticity, at a fundamental level, then it is never going to resonate with consumers and become part of their daily repertoire. People want to know your story, they want to know where you’ve come from, they want to know why you’ve decided to make a difference and, if they believe you, then that can be the start of a long relationship. Quality is a given. That doesn’t mean everything has to be super premium and expensive, it just means that you have to deliver the best you can for the price point you’re charging, no compromises.


You’ve worked on some of the coolest brands around from Absolut to Innocent. Going it alone, what do you look for in the clients and brands that you work on today and why the decision to work with Spoon?

Two words again, passion and respect. With the knowledge and experience we have, I believe we can make a real difference to the brands and businesses we partner with. In return, I want to see the passion that we have for what we do reciprocated and I want to see a respect shown for the discipline of branding and design. We decided to work with SPOON because they ticked both of these boxes, passionate people on a mission to Make Breakfast Better and who understand and respect how branding and design can make a real impact to their business and future success. An easy decision!


Consumers needs and food and drink trends are ever changing. How do brands survive in this tough industry environment and continue to please their loyal customers and attract new ones in the long term?

Brands must stay true to their purpose but should not fall into the trap of thinking job done, as by standing still as they’ll end up going backwards. Continue to do what you do best, nurture and evolve your core brand assets regularly to ensure you remain relevant, fresh  and desirable, and then create excitement around the edges with new products, new flavours or initiatives/campaigns which draw new consumers in. Ultimately, brands have to build real relationships with their consumers and not just pay lip service to this. This is a big opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue with people, with brands such as ‘Ardbeg’ showing the way and doing a brilliant job with their ‘committee’, who are an active part of the brands development. Be innovative, be agile, never forget your challenger roots and don’t play it safe!


Why is it a good time to be investing in Spoon?

As I said before, people are looking for quality and authenticity and SPOON have both of these traits in spades. With the health agenda becoming an ever present part of people’s everyday lives, investing in a brand that is championing the idea of making people’s lives better by Making Breakfast Better is a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. This is a movement everyone should want to be part of.


Finally, favourite Spoon cereal flavour? Why, when, where do you enjoy it?

I’m a muesli fiend at heart and I absolutely love SPOON ‘‘Berry Fix’ but I’ve just been lucky enough to try the new ‘Cherry Bomb’ granola and I think I’m a convert! I’m a real stickler for eating breakfast as soon as I get up. I add a dash of milk to my muesli, some greek yoghurt and honey and then settle down with my laptop to read the news and sport.


Interested to join the Spoon family? We want you to get involved and help us on our mission to make breakfast better. Click on the button below to visit our campaign page on Seedrs.