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The Well-Lazy, Piss-Easy Way to Build a Food brand

A sea of blokes in Yellow Ralph Lauren shirts, Barbour Jackets and Penny Loafers.

Girlfriends called Lauren, dogs called Ralph, Mum called Penny, needs to go the Barber to sort scruffy barnet.

The Alma, Wandsworth.

Rugby World Cup Quarter finals.

Full of rugger buggers.

Full of ‘em.

All probably “Emotional Intelligence Coaches” from Ealing.

E tattooed on left arse cheek

Q tattooed on right arse cheek

Motto for life is very, very simple - EQ + IQ x (GUINESSS + BANTER) = SUCCESS

Loquacious laddish chinwag laced-littered-loitered in their air.

Chat so god-awfully head-poundingly repugnantly-bad, my head curdled like the rancid jelly in a pork pie.

I sat in the corner, feeling insecure and out of place, in a pair of oversized Sainsbury’s trousers my Mum bought me.

I sat observing.

A lightening bolt of clarity struck

Every rugger bloke in the pub was trying to STAND OUT.

“I’m HUGO, and my signet ring is shinier than yours, MATE harhahahrhahrhrhraha”

Every rugger bloke in the pub was trying to FLEX their USP.

“Monty, you old mucka…MATE, should’ve seen me on the back 9… poetry in motion MATE… I’ve got a PHAT table at MADDOX tonight ”

Every rugger bloke in the pub was trying to BE DIFFERENT.

“Tarquin MATE, Did you like, know mate, my salmon pink trousers are the ACTUAL colour of Scottish Smoked salmon”

Everyone was trying to STAND OUT Ironically, they all LOOKED the SAME.

Just like a crowded category.

A great lesson in brand building.

Two ways to build a brand:

  1. The Common Hard way (everyone picks)

  2. The Well-Lazy, Piss-Easy way (no one picks)

The common hard way:

  • pick a category that’s on trend and growing

  • find a USP

  • create quirky packaging

  • keep persisting until you get a listing

The harsh reality?

The world doesn’t really need another healthy snack or functional drink.

Unique Selling Points are overrated, especially in crowded categories.

Being MORE prebiotic.


Being MORE Keto

Is just like Hugo saying his signet ring is shinier.


Consumers and buyers can’t REALLY spot the difference.

Am I saying, don’t do this?

Absolutely NOT.

There’s tonnes of examples of this working, but it’ll just take longer.

The Well Lazy and Piss-Easy Way to Build a Brand:

First, we must DITCH USPs. They’re overrated and outdated.

We must replace USPs with UCPs.

Unique Selling Points are OVER RATED.

Unique Category Play are UNDER RATED.

Unique Category Perspective

  • Find a dead category that hasn’t been touched in years

  • Where there are LITERALLY no brands playing

  • Create a vibrant fun brand there


  • You’re in a category of one.

  • Buyers in that category are GAGGING for innovation

  • You’ve got tonnes of case studies of other categories

  • So easy to drive accretive cash margin and incrementality.

Unique Selling Point definition: find a unique point of difference that makes you STAND out in your category.

Unique Category Play definition - find a category that absolutely no one is playing in, create a brand there.

Jolly Hog did it with Bacon

Liquid Death with Water

Bold Bean Co. with Pulses Beans

Crosta Mollica with Pizza

Little Moons with Ice Cream

Unique Category Play > Unique Selling Point.

10x easier to inject fun and newness to a dead, untouched category vs. trying to STAND out in a crowded, growing on trend category.

At Islands, buyers are perplexed when we say PLEASE DON’T PUT US IN CONFECTIONARY.


It’s super crowded.

Our USP would get TOTALLY lost.


We’re going after Home Baking.

A category LITERALLY no one thinks about.


A category that’s CRYING for innovation.

Range is WAY behind home baking trend post-Covid + Great British Bake Off

Granted less people walk down that aisle.

But how many people walked down the tinned beans and pulses aisle pre Bold Bean Co?

Unique Category Play > Unique Selling Point.

Unique Category Play > Unique Selling Point.

Unique Category Play > Unique Selling Point.

What if I’ve already launched in a crowded category?

What if I’ve already launched a healthy snack?

Or functional drink?

What if I’ve already done the production run?

What if I’ve all the branding is done?

I TOTALLY get it.

You may have already launched.

Good news…

There’s some Unique Category Play magic up your sleeve.

Reframe your brand to a different category.

booch in a champange bottle, now that’s smart

Kombucha is crowded.

Like the Alma pub. Full of rugger bugters.

LA Brewery are doing a marvellous job of positioning Kombucha in the Lo to No booze category.

Like the bloke in Barbour, suddenly going to a squat rave in Hackney. Guess what? They STAND OUT (like a soar fucking thumb).

Repositioning your brand AWAY from it’s native category is EASIER.

Unique Category Play > Unique Selling Point.

Let’s go deeper…

I did some consultancy for an amazing Healthy Nuts brand, called HEARTFULL.

Divya is an amazing, super hard working founder.

The issues Divya faced:

  • Trying to position HEARTFULL in an incredibly crowded healthy-snacking category.

  • Trying to make HEARTFULL all things to all people. The nuts brands for yogis and couples and cocktail drinkers and snackers.

  • Too many undifferentiated USP’s - HEARTFULL is gourmet and healthy and keto and flavourful and low carb

  • Going after the distribution EVERYONE else is going after: Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic, Selfridges etc.

Some questions we explored to unearth Divya’s Unique Category Play

  1. “What channel is NO ONE else playing in?”

  2. “If you could only pick ONE word to sum up HEARTFULL, what would it be and why?”

  3. “If you could only spend 2 hours a week on your business to move the needle where would you spend it?”

  4. “What would this look like if it were EASY?”

  5. “How can we reframe HEARTFULL to a new category?”

Unique Category Play is magic to transform your brand.

The Unique Category Play Reframe:

  1. We realised Hotels spend a fortune on great ingredients to make the best cocktails but completely neglect how nuts and snacking ADD to the experience.

  2. We took inspiration from Honest Burgers, how they focused on the chips as well as the burger.

  3. We took inspiration from Fever Tree’s famous: If ¾ of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best

    The Unique Category Play Reframe:

    HEARTFULL are THE Gourmet snacking brand made for Premium Cocktail bars and hotels.

  • HEARTFULL think of creating nuts and sourcing ingredients just like the mixologists at The Savoy, The Ritz and The Wolsey.

  • HEARTFULL ENHANCE your customers cocktail drinking experience, meaning they’ll spend more, come back for more and tell all their friends.

  • HEARTFULL are not going after Planet Organic, Whole Foods (just yet). Instead, we’re laser focused on Premium Hotels.

At HEARTFULL, we’re not selling healthy nuts.

We’re selling a better cocktail or beer drinking experience.

Now, that’s a much easier sell.

Unique Category Play is magic to transform your brand.

Unique Selling points hard.

Unique Category Plays are psychological magic.

The annoying-advert bit… don’t go and make a cuppa

Introducing our WONDERFUL agency partner HC Consulting

Harry Clarke and Lili Wiranatha are doing EPIC work with EPIC brands -Holy Moly Dips, The Gut Stuff, Savyll Drinks, REMEO Gelato

  • Struggling to unlock distribution?

  • Sales pitch not landing?

  • Don’t want to hire a full time sales director - but need the advice and guidance?

  • Need a helping handing with account management to keep your beloved listing?

    Please do yourself a favour.

    Reach out to my boi, Harry Clarke, Harry may be able to help!

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