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Case Study — Vamvalis' owned brands

Branding for one of Europe’s oldest specialists in nuts, seeds and superfoods processing experts: brand refresh for its oldest brand and the articulation of two new brands.


Established in 1970, Vamvalis was a pioneer in sourcing and processing all of those superfoods that have become part of a contemporary health-conscious dietary canon: nuts, seeds, dried fruits and spices. Located in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest container port, their business has roughly two strands. One involves large-quantity wholesale to the global Food & Beverage industry, another the production of their owned health bar brands well as a substantial white-labelling business for bars and other products to some of the EU’s largest supermarket chains.

The Project

Following on from an earlier project, the new CEO asked PROJECTile to work on refreshing an existing owned brand range of ready-to-eat nuts, healthy snack bars and peanut butter . This brand, Pellito, has strong traction in Vamvalis’ home territory of Greece as well as in the EU and Australia.

We were also asked to work directly with the CEO on an exciting concept-to-launch project for an entirely new range. PROJECTile worked on everything from underlying propositions and concepts to branding, naming and brand terminology, to copy and content.

This new brand—which effectively later became two brands—was a project close to the heart of the CEO. Drawing on her own experience as a mother, she was eager to offer an appetising range of healthier snacks that would appeal to health conscious mothers—and their children’s taste buds—with a contemporary look and feel.

The Challenge

Pellito presented less of a challenge. With strong traction in key markets, this was a brand refresh: giving the tone of voice and visual identity a more contemporary feel without losing its 50-year heritage and loyal B2B and B2C customers.

The new brand, however, was a different matter. For a start, the new CEO would have to convince the board that there was a solid business argument for an entirely new owned brand launch—it would be the first in many decades, so why not just focus on the solidly established Pellito brand?

The CEO secured the support of the board in principle. There were definite opportunities for the company to exploit its longstanding expertise in ingredients that had once been “supporting actors” in the market—quinoa, cranberries or seeds—that had seen massive growth in demand in the last decade, that had become trendy superfoods.

But, what would this new brand look like? What would its product offer be? And, what would make them stand out? The CEO was still working furiously backstage with Vamvalis’ experts to develop and test recipes that would hold the answer when PROJECTile as engaged.

Furthermore, there were other important factors to consider. While a cornerstone of the new brand was that it would have parent-to-chiild market appeal, the well known growing incidence of serious nut allergies in children presented a challenge. On one hand nut-based products undoubtedly represented massive market share for Vamvalis, on the other, a new child-friendly proposition while parents managed their children’s nut allergies…

The Concept

The concept effectively diversified into two concepts.

Working with the CEO and a core team, it seemed prudent to first test the waters with a “capsule collection”. What became the Terrabite range focussed purely on seed-based snack bars, thereby taking the issue of children with nut allergies out of the equation.

In evolving this brand’s tone of voice, visual identity and messaging hierarchies, PROJECTile’s copy also leveraged additional storytelling opportunities. Since these seed-based snacks offered a range of new, interesting combinations—alongside highly traditional versions—it was important to connect it to the tradition of pasteli (Παστέλι), the sesame snack that dates all the way back to Ancient Greece. This link with heritage had appeal to both international markets and local national pride.

Terrabites was rolled out with a “soft launch” model. It was never expected that this would be a “showrunner” product range. Rather, it proved particularly useful as a product range to test hypotheses.

The second concept was Instabar. This new brand was intended to channel Vamvalis’ heritage as a company known in the FMCG industry for its top-quality nut snacks above all else. With a bolder, more directional brand identity—design, tone of voice, messaging and brand neologisms—the intention here was to retain the parent-to-child appeal of these healthy snacks, but also to tap into millennial and zennial markets.

Thus, messaging such as “gastronomy” would retain its appeal to target parent consumers—think “yummy mummy”—but, combined with "extensive choice", have direct appeal to young(er) adult consumers from generations who ascribe to healthy, plant-based eating. Furthermore, by ensuring the range’s gluten and lactose-free recipes, it also aimed to appeal to retailers known for their consumer offer serving these dietary requirements.

The story so far…

Pelitto has retained its strong B2B market and also seen growth both within the EU and further afield. Nonetheless, the positive reception of the refreshed brand by some of its oldest (dare we say "most cautious and conservative"?) wholesale customers is exactly its intended outcome.

Terrabites, as planned, remains a niche proposition. But, Inbstabar, since launch, has proven a rapid-growth product range, securing relevant physical and online retail outlets both within the EU and far further afield.


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