The BLUNT Umbrellas brand is one of the most loved in New Zealand and Kiwi-owned agency Milk had the task to switch it up. We sit down with the strategic lead behind it all, Ben Reid, Managing Director of Milk and ask him what SMEs can take away from it all.
Having worked in the business for twenty years, working with brands from both Australia and New Zealand, the task to redesign for BLUNT Umbrella’s was one of the most intimidating.
Milk has worked across a range of companies both big and small, from brands such as Major Major, Up&Go and Weetbix. But their real sweet spot is small-to-medium enterprises.
“I don’t know what it is, but our portfolio seems to connect and be quite relevant and practical for SMEs. The nature of working with an SME is actually brilliant as well, [as] we get to have significant influence and a partnership with them,” he says.
In 2023, Milk’s most notable work was the BLUNT Umbrellas rebrand.
“It was terrifying because it is so well loved and has so much awareness with people,” says Reid when asked about what it was like to work on the rebrand.
Working on such a beloved brand, Reid says, “we united as an agency-client team to unearth BLUNT’s story, whakapapa, purpose and ‘why’. Our interviews were very influential and guided our decision making. Every person we talked to who owned an umbrella said in these exact words; ‘I love my BLUNT’,” explains Reid.
“That’s an incredibly curious insight or over-index of love for a functional product, so we needed to dig a bit deeper and figure out why do people love this functional product so much.”
The secret to a successful rebrand was trying to find out the answer behind why people love their BLUNT umbrellas, and the answer was right under their nose.
“It’s a full sensorial experience having a BLUNT,” he answers.
“That sort of led us into the core idea – that the outtake from a consumer is the sense of joy and confidence they get.”
This was the catalyst behind the core of BLUNT’s rebrand, ‘engineering joy’.
Reid honed in on what consumers enjoyed about the brand and created a brand idea that elevated that, resulting in an outcome that was fulfilling to both the brand and the customers.
Milk’s process for the rebrand behind BLUNT Umbrellas is something they like to reflect when working with SMEs, which in Reid’s perspective is enjoyable as the landscape is a place of “ambition and growth”.
“They’re kind of the backbone of the country and with hundreds of successful businesses all striving for differentiation and betterment, it’s kind of inspiring,” he says.
But for SMEs heading into 2024 and are wanting to remain distinctive, Reid says there are a few trends they should live by.
The first trend is beauty.
Scientifically proven, Reid says every person is attracted to beautiful things, so creating a definitive brand that is also beautiful will let your identity stand out.
Reid looks at BLUNT Umbrellas as an example, with the brand resonating so strongly with consumers because of the beauty of the product.
The second trend is distinctiveness.
More than ever, having a distinctive brand is critical now as every brand in the world is competing for a spot in the human mind.
“When we’re creating identity systems, we’re really looking to create those assets that leave whatever they need to leave, whether it’s a smile on the mind or just a hardcore asset or just being able to recall something,” adds Reid.
The final trend is emotional connection.
Though the concept is not new, emotional connection is also more important than ever, because gone are the days of putting a product on the shelf and letting it do its thing. Now, consumers are looking for products that align with their values.
Brands need to emotionally connect with people; whether that means being entertaining or uplifting, products are now honoured with the privilege of being purchased.
Looking into 2024, Reid says he is extremely optimistic about the new year ahead when it comes to the SME landscape.
“There’s no guarantees obviously, but I’m really optimistic about it and I think next year we can feel positive about the economy and where it’s going and the opportunities that could be in front of us.”