Helius Therapeutics' Paul Manning on five New Zealand brands that inspire him

Paul Manning is the co-founder and executive director of Helius Therapeutics, New Zealand’s largest licensed medicinal cannabis company, but most of his career has been spent in the design and advertising sector. He launched an agency called Metromedia at the age of 22, which went on to become New Zealand’s largest independent agency before being acquired by Ogilvy on 2007. He was then the executive director at Ogilvy before joining Clemenger Group as managing director of 99. A former EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Manning has worked at the highest level with major agencies and consulted to dozens of New Zealand’s leading brands. Here's five New Zealand brands that inspire him. 

1. Xero

Xero is a business that started by asking an important, customer-centred question: what do small business owners really need when it comes to accounting tools? This led Rod Drury and his team to pay close attention to their prospective customers and gave way to the concept that underpinned their product, to create ‘beautiful accounting software’. And this software changed everything. It has completely transformed how thousands of small business owners work.

2. Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is a brand loved by many. For two years in a row, the Kiwi national carrier has even taken out the number one position as the most reputable company… in Australia. I love Air Zealand because of the brand’s relentless attention to customer experience. From inspiring your next holiday, to online bookings, stepping into the lounge and ordering your coffee from the app, to the world-beating in-flight service. Air New Zealand is customer-obsessed and it has paid off, big time.

3. Fletcher Design

Fletcher Design was founded in 1999 by acclaimed New Zealand designer, Fletcher Vaughan. His studio has become recognised globally for the design and supply of thought-provoking, yet functional, commercial furniture solutions. Fletch has collaborated with some of the country's best designers, and is passionate about nurturing New Zealand design. There's a big emphasis on keeping things local - all furniture is New Zealand designed and made. There’s a focus on original design and creative excellence at the core of the brand. This spirit and commitment to quality is the driving force that creates demand for the company’s products, domestically and abroad.

4. Better Burger

Nick McCaw and the team behind Better Burger started with a powerfully simple philosophy: that traditional QSR burger chains produced low quality, homogenous products, and there had to be a better way to bring quality, fresh burgers to consumers at the same price. They commissioned local artist and award-winning designer, James Showler, to develop the brand identity and packaging. The focus on making things fresh from scratch has been applied to their unique look and feel in the form of hand-drawn illustrations and typography in black and white, reminiscent of Jean-Michel Basquiat's street art. And now they’re taking on the global fast food chains at their own game, offering freshly made ‘better burger’ meals for the same price as a Mc-whatever combo. 

5. Zespri

New Zealand's kiwifruit export brand, Zespri, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, marking two decades of joint effort between growers, packers and marketers to safeguard the value of fruit grown in both New Zealand and under license around the world. Zespri now accounts for around a third of the global trade in kiwifruit and has built its strong reputation through a focus on health marketing, developing products, innovation and brand awareness. My Dad spent most of his career as plant pathologist working on the green and gold beauties. What’s not to love?

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