5 brand lessons we can learn from Greggs

5 brand lessons we can learn from Greggs

Greggs had an epic 2018 and began 2019 in a victorious Twitter spat with Piers Morgan. They’re pretty much winning at life. Here are five brand lessons we can learn from the baker. 

If you’re a brand, communications or marketing professional, you’ve wanted to work for Greggs sometime in the last year. Am I right?

The Newcastle-based bakery smashed it throughout 2018 when it came to headline-hitting campaigns and social media content that reached far beyond the newsfeeds.

Greggs was one of my favourite brands to watch last year and it looks like they’ve got no plans to sit on their laurels in 2019, after last week’s pitch-perfect launch of their new vegan sausage roll.

I think there are five key things we can learn from Greggs’ recent brand-building activity.

1. Take opportunities

Timing matters and it’s vital that we see opportunities and act on them.

Greggs has a store opposite Fenwick’s on Northumberland Street, Newcastle’s busiest retail location. Every Christmas, Fenwick’s decks its huge window display in a Christmas scene that hundreds of people flock to see during the festive period.

The clever communications bods decided to invert the store’s signage so that the logo appeared the right way round when reflected in the much-photographed Fenwick’s window.

It was an easy, low-cost idea that resulted in a tonne of media coverage, loads of social content and a huge increase in positive brand sentiment from consumers who loved the playful stunt.

Be prepared

January saw Greggs release its vegan sausage roll into the world. The launch in itself was pretty standard but stood out because of the perfect handling of the reaction on social media.

The team did their horizon scanning, anticipated where the conversation might go and prepared. Top of the hit list was full-time snowflake-shamer, Piers Morgan.

When the Good Morning Britain grump criticised Greggs for being “PC-ravaged clowns”, the brand responded with the now infamous “Oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you”.

People loved it. Everyone was talking about it. Thousands of retweets, comments and posts in defense of the baker were fired out from smartphones across the country.

Taking the time to think about how your campaign might land with your stakeholders pays dividends when you can respond with the precision that makes you a national topic of conversation. “Owning” Piers Morgan on Twitter was also a lovely added bonus.

Have a voice

Greggs knows who it is and what its brand stands for.

Tone of voice should never be underestimated. Putting in the effort to define who you are, what your brand personality is and how you want to talk to your stakeholders pays off time and time again.

Be brave

Greggs is not afraid to play in controversial spaces.

Remember 2017’s Jesus sausage roll? Yep, they went there. Placing a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene sparked outrage and admiration in equal measure.

This type of activity must be handled carefully, of course. Courting controversy can lead to the complete demise of your brand or the making of your reputation – navigating that narrow precipice is the preserve of only the most talented and steely-nerved marketers.

Keep at it

The key to Greggs’ success is consistency. It doesn’t do these things as one-off stunts. It invests in well-planned, brilliantly executed campaigns that get it noticed time and time again.

Your marketing and PR activity needs to support your brand identity. It’s no good launching an isolated humourous stunt if you’re a serious brand. Again, Greggs knows who it is and plans incremental campaigns that grow its brand reputation for the right things.

And why does this matter?

Twitter spats, religious rolls and swiveled signage might not sound like strategic business decisions but they have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

Only this week, it was reported that Greggs has bucked the high street retailer trend by actually making a profit – and that is down in no small way to the marketers keeping the brand relevant, front of mind and nestled warmly in the hearts of consumers.

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