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Home Run: How an agency built a brand under lockdown

Cat Tyler, Co-Founder of Home Run and Senior Account Director at Dark Horses reveals what the agency learnt from building a snack brand under lockdown.

Cat Tyler, Dark Horses

Senior Account Director

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Imagine if someone had said to you 18 months ago that not only would you be locked down for four months because of a global pandemic, but that you’d also launch a product, something none of you had ever done before in your lives, during that time? You’d have thought they were utterly bonkers.

But that is the position we found ourselves in with last week’s launch of Home Run, our very own sports nutrition bar, designed, created and produced, by us, specifically to power people’s post-work workout.

Obviously, as a sports creative agency we work with a lot of different brands and create a lot of campaigns but creating Home Run completely from scratch was like nothing we'd ever done before. Not only were we developing our own brand completely, but we also had to make an actual product to sell to actual people.

The first major realisation was just how much we had to do that was completely out of our usual experience, such as finding a factory, working with them to define the recipe, creating the product packaging and figuring out all the logistics of transporting it and selling it on Amazon. When written down in black and white, it may sound simple enough, but the reality was 18 months of research, testing, tweaking and constantly shifting elements around to ensure that all the necessary aspects aligned for production day.

The bar itself is specifically formulated using Oats and Teff flour for sustained energy release up to and during the post-work workout, with only 7.6g of sugar per 50g bar.

It's incredibly exciting starting a brand from scratch and not being confined by any pre-existing attributes, values or look and feel.

Cat Tyler

The post-lunch slump

In parallel with the product development was the much more familiar territory of coming up with the name, branding and campaign ideas. But even here the process wasn't what we're used to. It's incredibly exciting starting a brand from scratch and not being confined by any pre-existing attributes, values or look and feel. However, this means there's an almost infinite number of directions you can go in. Luckily, we're surrounded by sports enthusiasts all day, every day, so could test our theories and thoughts quickly with the sort of people who are our target audience.

It was actually these brilliant people that inspired the idea for Home Run in the first place when we realised that in the afternoon when we were getting hungry, we couldn’t find a source of nutrition that suitably powered our post-work workouts. Instead, we were snacking on toast, leftover cake, so much of this in the modern office, and cereal which were either insufficient from an energy perspective or came with sugar crashes. We carried out research to back this up which found that 85% of people snack in the afternoon, mainly on chocolate, crisps and biscuits, which leaves them feeling tired (75%), lethargic (22%) and “slightly sick” (18%), not the ideal motivation for a long run home or hard workout. So, we decided to solve this problem by making our own.

Standing out in the category

With the packaging, we wanted something that would stand out while reflecting our ambition to fuel people to exercise after work. The traditional thinking in the category is for either muted colours, reflecting the natural ingredients in many bars, or bright designs, to create to stand out on a shop shelf. Being completely new to the sector, we decided to go in a completely different direction and removed all colour completely from our packaging, focussing instead on a black and white graphic design that creates a real sense of energy and movement. Even our website scrolls left to right instead of up and down.

Then just as we were ready to launch, lockdown hit. Home Run's mission is to encourage people to lead well-balanced healthy lives, by giving them the energy they need to exercise after work. But with everyone out of the office and on lockdown at home, we had to pause and see if this was something we could stay true to. However, the reality was that with the extra time saved through not commuting many people were exercising more than ever and still needed the right nutrition to fuel their post-work workouts. Similarly, now as people gradually return to work, they are seeking alternative means of transport and for a lot of people, this means running or cycling their commute. This is why we've just launched Home Run ‘Commuter Routers’, a service that pairs you with one of our Home Run athletes who will run or cycle with you to work to help find the best and most enjoyable route.

It's been an amazing 18 months getting to where we are now, but we’re aware that our biggest learnings are going to come now that the bar is on sale. We’re looking forward to continuing to adapt and evolve the brand and product over the next months and years.

Visit Home Run's website to find out more.

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Guest Author

Cat Tyler, Dark Horses

Senior Account Director,

About

Cat started her career at The & Partnership (then CHI and Partners). After three years she left to join Bates CHI and Partners Vietnam where she worked for two years before returning back to T&P in London. Outside of work she's a keen marathon runner so in 2018 she moved to work at a sports creative agency Dark Horses working across clients like Wiggle, The FA and Home Run.

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FMCG Branding Sport