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BEAR; the enchanting story of a brand launched on a shoestring and sold for £70m six years later

Seeing rapid sales growth from £0 to £6.4m in 3 years, smashing sales targets by 30% and increasing stockists from fewer than 500 to 10,000, B&B Studio and BEAR’s brand winning formula packed a punch when it won the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix in 2014. 

Since then, BEAR’s presence has grown beyond that of your average healthy snack product, creating a world of adventure and energy full of inspired activities, resonating with parents and children more than anyone could have anticipated. 

1mb-bear_yoyos_groupHaving launched on a shoestring in 2009 (the founders sold their house and tasked B&B to create a family-focused dried fruit brand that made healthy, no-compromise snacking more accessible and desirable) BEAR rapidly became the fastest growing brand in healthy snacking, delivering over 30million portions of fruit in the UK in 2012.  

The BEAR brand resonated with kids so much that the brand team had to create a role within the business dedicated to responding to all the letters that children were (and still are)  sending  to ‘BEAR’. Says B&B Studio’s founder Kerry Bolt, It was 3000 letters a week within 2 years of launch.” 

BEAR is a very design led brand and B&B had to  consider  the brand world early on  as part of their work on the brand identity. The initial brand idea for  ‘BEAR’  was based on the product being nothing but naked nature. Positioning the brand as a healthy snack that would connect with people on an emotional level,  rather  than  dried fruit, was key to the design strategy.

1mb-bear_forestgames_cardsAs a character, BEAR is a larger-than-life brand ambassador. Living in a cave, deep in the woods, he has a story that transports kids to another world and quickly captures their imagination. “It’s interesting that all this depth emanates from what is, in actuality, a flat, two-dimensional logo,” says Bolt, “and that’s the secret of the BEAR brand – a simplicity of approach that gives consumers the freedom to engage and interact.” 

The bravery of the identity commands respect from both consumers and competitors alike, and kids are allowed to imagine the complete world of BEAR rather than the more usual ‘cute and cuddly’ bears they might be used to.  

1mb-bear_barcode_05The brand identity  was the springboard for the world in which BEAR lives, from the BEAR cave to the ‘BEAR code’,” reflects Bolt. The BEAR code (an on-pack barcode) became a vehicle for collecting packs and sending them off for free activity materials. We considered every touch-point  and interaction from the perspective of the BEAR brand,” Bolt says, and this definitely helped  maximise  the engagement with consumers, both the parents and kids. 

1mb-bear_book_closedIn the early years following the creation of the BEAR brand, B&B worked with the client on all of  the brand assets. “We worked very much in partnership with the  Founders, really as an extension of their team” says Bolt, with the design studio creating all the packaging and collectable-cards, as well as assets and copy for the brand world.  

The visual and verbal world did develop in the years following B&B Studio’s creation of the brand,  but the  core creative essence remained the same. It also played a big role in the look and feel of the investor deck which was fully styled and designed to bring the world of BEAR to life – even to the point of being covered in fur. We know” says Bolt, ‘that this investor deck, and its design, played a key role in BEAR being bought by Lotus Bakeries 6 years  after launch  for £70m! 

1mb-bear_book_open_1BEAR grew very quickly, and the processes  that come with managing a growing  international brand came into playThere became a need, in part due to  the branddesign-led nature, for an in-house design team to keep up with the volume of materials that needed to be created.  

B&B Studio continued to work closely on key projects with the in-house team. These may have been NPD packaging projects, or one-off initiatives,” reflects Bolt, with the agency providing strategic brand guidance on a consultative basis.  An example of one of these one-off initiatives was the design for the teams’ new office space post BEARS’s sale, creating features such as a tree-house, meeting rooms and market place – all in keeping with the BEAR brand look and feel and tone of voice. 

Kerry Bolt, Founder, B&B Studio
Kerry Bolt, Founder, B&B Studio

An instant hit with consumers, in the years since launch, BEAR has inspired thousands of kids and a host of competitors. As  B&B’s first client and new brand creation project, BEAR will always remain  close to our hearts,” says Bolt. 

B&B Studio and BEAR won the DBA Design Effectiveness Grand Prix Award in 2014. See the cracking case they put together: read the winning case study here.

DBA Design Effectiveness Awards: Open for entries

awards_01The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards 2021 is open for entries

 

Download your entry pack to evidence your success and demonstrate the results that your design delivers. The deadline for entries is 5pm GMT, Friday 27 November 2020.

 

The DBA team is here to support you through the entry process, from thinking through what might make a good case to submit, to discussing working drafts and providing feedback. Book your consultation with a member of the DBA team. For further details please contact awards@dba.org.uk.

Image credits: 

B&B Studio and BEAR

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