Free Subscription

  • Access 15 free news articles each month


Try one month for $5
  • Unlimited access to news,insights and opinions
  • Quarterly and weekly magazines
  • Independent research reports and forecasts
  • Quarterly webinars with industry experts
  • Q&A with retail leaders
  • Career advice
  • Exclusive Masterclass access. Part of Retail Week 2021

Top 10 brand stories


eataly-newyorkBrands and retailers often overlook their story of origin.

Yet the idea of beginnings and history has never been so important.

At Designworks, we talk a lot about storytelling. We like telling stories of creation, innovation, heritage, and everything that delivers depth and engagement between consumers and brands.

Origin is important because customers are increasingly looking for brands that they can connect with.

Media, content creators, and even start up finance (think Kickstarter) are being democratised. Consumers have become dissatisfied with brands that are shallow.

Shoppers can see through the thin veneer of superficial design and are looking for real stories of real creation.

One of the best creation stories that helped build a global brand powerhouse is L’Oreal Paris Laboratories.

We’ve all seen the advertisements featuring white coats and claims of new technology and constant innovation.

This concept of the laboratory gives all the brands launched L’Oreal a certain credibility from day one.

The story of origin can be anchored by the place it came from and the people who make it.

These are my top 10 picks:

1. Carman’s story begins with one woman and just $1000. Twenty years later, it is a $50 million plus homemade muesli empire

2. Cooper’s was established in 1862 by Thomas Cooper. To this day, the company remains in the hands of the Cooper family. They continue to champion craft beer and now own four per cent of the beer market in Australia.

3. The supermarket meat cabinet used to be a ‘sea of same’. Chicken has been branded for years but now there is strong emergence of other proteins telling stories of provenance, such as Otway Pork and King Island Beef.

4. Bega. Real Town. Real Cheese. This says it all really. Check out Neal’s Yard Dairy for farm cheeses from the British Isles as well.

5. Maggie Beer, Australia’s favourite cook, started an empire with a small range of gourmet goods. What is great about her range is that it still stays true to her brand of humility and passion.

6. Icebreaker enables you to log on and find out which farm the merino wool for your particular garment came from.

7. Vegemite is arguably Australia’s most recognisable food brand and has been proudly made in Australia since 1923 (even if it is now owned by Kraft).

8. Organic ranges are growing at a rate of knots. Both major supermarkets have their own organic ranges, as do key brands in nearly every category.

9. Australian Wool Innovation promotes Australian wool as the finest in the world. It’s brand, Woolmark, has been applied to more than five billion products and counting.

10. Eataly is a US retailer that specialises in everything Italian. The retailer provides a stamp of integrity through careful merchandising and theatre. Belissimo!

A Vegemite advertisement from 1942.
A Vegemite advertisement from 1942.

You might have noticed that all the brands mentioned above are in the food and beverage or clothing categories.

Why? We think it is because these things are products that you put in or on your body. We have a real and reasonable desire to know the substance of what we’re eating and wearing.

A backlash to genetically modified, copycat, and synthetic products pushes us toward authentic brands with a known and trusted origin.

The magic of each brand is that they tell their story of origin clearly, succinctly, and repeatedly.

A quick search of each brand easily reveals how the brand was created and what it stands for beyond bigger, better, best.

They are rooted in their place of origin and that makes them special, emotionally desirable, and valuable to the consumer.

Clair van Veen is a strategist and acting GM at Designworks. This three part series will explore ideas around the supply chain of goods. Stay tuned for Clair’s next column on purveyors.

You have 7 free articles.