LET'S TALK ABOUT...

Creating a disruptive business with Alan Barratt

#btconversations #expandingabusiness #launchingabusiness #promotingabusiness

‘Let’s Talk About’ is our series of videos offering practical digital skills advice to help you grow. ​

Alan Barratt, founder and CEO of Grenade, share with us his tips on how to create a disruptive business.

Alan built a globally recognised brand over the last 10 years, Grenade, which has helped millions of people reach their health and fitness goals. Grenade’s famous Carb Killa bar is the second best-selling chocolate bar in the UK, making Grenade one of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses.​

Alan has offered to share with us some of his key learnings.​

Connect with your customers with impactful messaging

Make your product stand out

Identify what makes your brand unique

Find inspiration outside your category

Make your product meaningful

Focus on the people who love your product

Find the things only you can do

Be consistent in the long run

Follow your gut instinct

Alan Barratt:

Do you want me to come back and walk in, looking very knowledgeable when I sit down.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible 00:00:10].

Alan Barratt:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

Four [inaudible 00:00:13] three.

Alan Barratt:

My name's Alan Barratt, co-creator of Grenade. Let's talk about creating a disruptive business.

Alan Barratt:

So, over the last 10 years, we've gone from being a £500 startup, with myself and my wife trading from our spare bedroom at home, to being a business worth hundreds of millions, to employing nearly a hundred people all over the world, and having the number one selling chocolate bar in the UK. We didn't invent protein bars, but we invented good ones. I was selling protein bars twenty years ago with my distribution business, but they tasted like protein bars. They were chewy and it was like a jaw workout eating one, and they had no personality. I'll give you an example. When I was a personal trainer, my clients were saying, "I'm struggling to lose weight." And I was saying, "Yeah, you should try products A-B-C, whatever." And they couldn't remember the names. So I'd see them the following week, and I'd say, "Did you get that product?" They’d say "No, no, I couldn't remember what it was you said, so I just bought this one. Is that the right one?" And I was like, "No."

Alan Barratt:

There were just too many products that looked and sounded the same. So we decided to create our own, and I didn't want to be some generic white bottle, sat on the shelf of a pharmacy, like everything else. I wanted something that stood out, was impactful. Most importantly, memorable. You've got a very limited amount of customer attention nowadays because consumers are getting bombarded from all angles. We're seeing tens of thousands of bits of advertising a day. So it's really important for a brand to connect with consumers, every chance you get, whether it's online, on a supermarket shelf. If consumers see you, you've got a split second to grab their attention, and actually convey all of your brand messaging in a split second as they glance across those shelves. That's your opportunity to make that difference and make a statement that consumers will remember.

Alan Barratt:

See, if I had a product and I wanted to put it on a shelf, I would go to the section of the store, for instance, where my product would be, or I would like it to be. I'd look at everything else on there, and I'd experiment with putting my product in between everyone else's and checking for contrasting colours, contrasting designs, maybe a different shape of bottle, for instance, to really make that product stand out. The worst thing you can do is make your product look like everybody else's. Because they'll just go for the brand that they know, and you will just blend into insignificance. It's really important that a brand identifies quickly what makes them 'them.' What do they have that competitors don't have? What's going to make a consumer come to them? In our case, we try and make consumers smile. If you can do something that actually makes them smile and just invoke that reaction, that's probably quite a good reaction. Because we probably all need to smile more.

Alan Barratt:

Just a vanilla protein bar doesn't sound that captivating, does it? But put sprinkles on it and call it ‘Birthday Cake’ and again, you've got a personality. Same, we do with peanut butter flavour bar, but again, we call it 'Peanut Nutter.' That's what consumers remember. Just comes back to giving that bar an identity. There's absolutely nothing wrong from getting inspiration from other brands. But what you don't want to do is just end up becoming them. So I've always tried to take inspiration from brands that I look up to who are outside of the health and fitness industry. One of my favorite brands I look up to is Ben and Jerry's, so that's where we get inspiration from there as well. It's also worth remembering that things that have worked in other industries, may well work in yours. They also may not, but they may work in yours.

Alan Barratt:

In the early part of any brand or new company, you have to find a group of people, let's say, that you can become meaningful to, and it can be a very small group, but it's got to be probably a scalable group, and in our case, it was the military. So we made products specifically for military personnel, really. I guess the point here is if you're not meaningful to someone, you can end up being meaningless to everyone. Build something people want to be a part of. If you can make everyone an ambassador for you, even subconsciously, because you've made something that's been superb, and they've found it superb, they will talk to people, and that's how you ultimately scale a brand.

Alan Barratt:

People become, I think, quite hung up on the fact that everyone has to love their brand. People don't have to love your brand. They just have to have an opinion on your brand. It's better if people love it, don't get me wrong, but if 50% love it and 50% hate it, fine, focus on the 50% that love it. That's still a lot of people. So at some point you just have to stop listening to people, listen to people that perhaps don't like your product, and then actually focus on the people that do. If you can't find anyone that likes your product, you've got a problem. The worst thing you can have, I think, is a product, brand, or service that people have no opinion on because then, who cares? I think we've just really focused on stuff that we've enjoyed doing and that we want to do, and we don't necessarily have a tangible return on investment around it.

Alan Barratt:

Like, there was no real call to action for driving the tank through London. Other than the fact it's a good stunt. People talk about it, people share it. We've enjoyed doing it. We haven't always done that with Grenade. We've done events in the past, which have been brilliantly run events, and they've been very successful, but they haven't quite been us. I think it's really important for a brand to have their own identity, figure out what works for them, and what they can get away with, and what other brands can't. We try and do stuff that probably only we could do. So to a certain extent, if you saw that tank drive through London, and it didn't have Grenade on the barrel, you'd know it was us. Anyone can give away products, anyone can sponsor stuff. That's just really about, who's got the most money and who's got the most money wins. We don't have the most money. We'll never have the most money. So we have to really think outside the box.

Alan Barratt:

People think that probably disruption has to be expensive. It doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to be disruptive. So anytime you can do something perhaps cheaper than no one else has thought of, that's quite powerful, and it's very often the simplest of things. I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple. Generally, because if we don't, I don't understand it, and if I don't understand it, then we're in trouble.

Alan Barratt:

So I get asked all the time, what's the number one thing that people should do, a startup should do, businesses should do, when it comes to building a brand or building something that's successful? And there's twenty answers to this. Obviously, there's risk. Obviously, there's hard work. These are all things that we could all write a list, and we would all agree on, but something people don't talk about is having that consistent approach. Because yes, you'd work hard, but how long for? I've worked hard for thirty years. It's no good working hard for a month, and then, seeing where that gets you because it's not going to get you very far. Business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Alan Barratt:

Initially, the best person to start with is you. If you think it's a good idea, you should go for it. It's great to get encouragement from family and friends and people around you, but you must also not let that dissuade you, because you've got people that want to see you do well, that care about you and don't want you to get hurt or lose something along the way. Therefore, might discourage you, and again, you've got people potentially around you that don't want to see you do well. Because you're following your dream and they're not following their dream, and they don't want to see you do that, in the nicest possible way.

Alan Barratt:

So talk to people and get opinions and get feedback, but more people told me not to launch Grenade than to launch Grenade. I actually can't think of anyone who said to me, "That's a good idea." But my wife thought it was a good idea, and that was enough, and I thought it was a good idea. So we did it. But don't listen to the small voice. If you want to do it, you do it, because ultimately, you're the one doing the work.

‘Let’s Talk About’ is our series of videos offering practical digital skills advice to help you grow. ​

Alan Barratt, founder and CEO of Grenade, share with us his tips on how to create a disruptive business.

Alan built a globally recognised brand over the last 10 years, Grenade, which has helped millions of people reach their health and fitness goals. Grenade’s famous Carb Killa bar is the second best-selling chocolate bar in the UK, making Grenade one of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses.​

Alan has offered to share with us some of his key learnings.​

Connect with your customers with impactful messaging

Make your product stand out

Identify what makes your brand unique

Find inspiration outside your category

Make your product meaningful

Focus on the people who love your product

Find the things only you can do

Be consistent in the long run

Follow your gut instinct

Alan Barratt:

Do you want me to come back and walk in, looking very knowledgeable when I sit down.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible 00:00:10].

Alan Barratt:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

Four [inaudible 00:00:13] three.

Alan Barratt:

My name's Alan Barratt, co-creator of Grenade. Let's talk about creating a disruptive business.

Alan Barratt:

So, over the last 10 years, we've gone from being a £500 startup, with myself and my wife trading from our spare bedroom at home, to being a business worth hundreds of millions, to employing nearly a hundred people all over the world, and having the number one selling chocolate bar in the UK. We didn't invent protein bars, but we invented good ones. I was selling protein bars twenty years ago with my distribution business, but they tasted like protein bars. They were chewy and it was like a jaw workout eating one, and they had no personality. I'll give you an example. When I was a personal trainer, my clients were saying, "I'm struggling to lose weight." And I was saying, "Yeah, you should try products A-B-C, whatever." And they couldn't remember the names. So I'd see them the following week, and I'd say, "Did you get that product?" They’d say "No, no, I couldn't remember what it was you said, so I just bought this one. Is that the right one?" And I was like, "No."

Alan Barratt:

There were just too many products that looked and sounded the same. So we decided to create our own, and I didn't want to be some generic white bottle, sat on the shelf of a pharmacy, like everything else. I wanted something that stood out, was impactful. Most importantly, memorable. You've got a very limited amount of customer attention nowadays because consumers are getting bombarded from all angles. We're seeing tens of thousands of bits of advertising a day. So it's really important for a brand to connect with consumers, every chance you get, whether it's online, on a supermarket shelf. If consumers see you, you've got a split second to grab their attention, and actually convey all of your brand messaging in a split second as they glance across those shelves. That's your opportunity to make that difference and make a statement that consumers will remember.

Alan Barratt:

See, if I had a product and I wanted to put it on a shelf, I would go to the section of the store, for instance, where my product would be, or I would like it to be. I'd look at everything else on there, and I'd experiment with putting my product in between everyone else's and checking for contrasting colours, contrasting designs, maybe a different shape of bottle, for instance, to really make that product stand out. The worst thing you can do is make your product look like everybody else's. Because they'll just go for the brand that they know, and you will just blend into insignificance. It's really important that a brand identifies quickly what makes them 'them.' What do they have that competitors don't have? What's going to make a consumer come to them? In our case, we try and make consumers smile. If you can do something that actually makes them smile and just invoke that reaction, that's probably quite a good reaction. Because we probably all need to smile more.

Alan Barratt:

Just a vanilla protein bar doesn't sound that captivating, does it? But put sprinkles on it and call it ‘Birthday Cake’ and again, you've got a personality. Same, we do with peanut butter flavour bar, but again, we call it 'Peanut Nutter.' That's what consumers remember. Just comes back to giving that bar an identity. There's absolutely nothing wrong from getting inspiration from other brands. But what you don't want to do is just end up becoming them. So I've always tried to take inspiration from brands that I look up to who are outside of the health and fitness industry. One of my favorite brands I look up to is Ben and Jerry's, so that's where we get inspiration from there as well. It's also worth remembering that things that have worked in other industries, may well work in yours. They also may not, but they may work in yours.

Alan Barratt:

In the early part of any brand or new company, you have to find a group of people, let's say, that you can become meaningful to, and it can be a very small group, but it's got to be probably a scalable group, and in our case, it was the military. So we made products specifically for military personnel, really. I guess the point here is if you're not meaningful to someone, you can end up being meaningless to everyone. Build something people want to be a part of. If you can make everyone an ambassador for you, even subconsciously, because you've made something that's been superb, and they've found it superb, they will talk to people, and that's how you ultimately scale a brand.

Alan Barratt:

People become, I think, quite hung up on the fact that everyone has to love their brand. People don't have to love your brand. They just have to have an opinion on your brand. It's better if people love it, don't get me wrong, but if 50% love it and 50% hate it, fine, focus on the 50% that love it. That's still a lot of people. So at some point you just have to stop listening to people, listen to people that perhaps don't like your product, and then actually focus on the people that do. If you can't find anyone that likes your product, you've got a problem. The worst thing you can have, I think, is a product, brand, or service that people have no opinion on because then, who cares? I think we've just really focused on stuff that we've enjoyed doing and that we want to do, and we don't necessarily have a tangible return on investment around it.

Alan Barratt:

Like, there was no real call to action for driving the tank through London. Other than the fact it's a good stunt. People talk about it, people share it. We've enjoyed doing it. We haven't always done that with Grenade. We've done events in the past, which have been brilliantly run events, and they've been very successful, but they haven't quite been us. I think it's really important for a brand to have their own identity, figure out what works for them, and what they can get away with, and what other brands can't. We try and do stuff that probably only we could do. So to a certain extent, if you saw that tank drive through London, and it didn't have Grenade on the barrel, you'd know it was us. Anyone can give away products, anyone can sponsor stuff. That's just really about, who's got the most money and who's got the most money wins. We don't have the most money. We'll never have the most money. So we have to really think outside the box.

Alan Barratt:

People think that probably disruption has to be expensive. It doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to be disruptive. So anytime you can do something perhaps cheaper than no one else has thought of, that's quite powerful, and it's very often the simplest of things. I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple. Generally, because if we don't, I don't understand it, and if I don't understand it, then we're in trouble.

Alan Barratt:

So I get asked all the time, what's the number one thing that people should do, a startup should do, businesses should do, when it comes to building a brand or building something that's successful? And there's twenty answers to this. Obviously, there's risk. Obviously, there's hard work. These are all things that we could all write a list, and we would all agree on, but something people don't talk about is having that consistent approach. Because yes, you'd work hard, but how long for? I've worked hard for thirty years. It's no good working hard for a month, and then, seeing where that gets you because it's not going to get you very far. Business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Alan Barratt:

Initially, the best person to start with is you. If you think it's a good idea, you should go for it. It's great to get encouragement from family and friends and people around you, but you must also not let that dissuade you, because you've got people that want to see you do well, that care about you and don't want you to get hurt or lose something along the way. Therefore, might discourage you, and again, you've got people potentially around you that don't want to see you do well. Because you're following your dream and they're not following their dream, and they don't want to see you do that, in the nicest possible way.

Alan Barratt:

So talk to people and get opinions and get feedback, but more people told me not to launch Grenade than to launch Grenade. I actually can't think of anyone who said to me, "That's a good idea." But my wife thought it was a good idea, and that was enough, and I thought it was a good idea. So we did it. But don't listen to the small voice. If you want to do it, you do it, because ultimately, you're the one doing the work.