Nothing will get your attention like a free cookie that’s warm from the oven. Fortunately, Dereck Lewis of Thelma’s and Brian Sauer of Saturday Mfg. gave attendees more reasons to listen to their Recipe for Building an Iconic Brand at the AMA Iowa luncheon on November 2.
Lewis and Sauer explained how the successful client/agency relationship between the two companies has helped Thelma’s grow from a small warm cookie delivery start up into a growing regional business that’s also famous for its ice cream cookie sandwiches and operates a retail store in Des Moines’ East Village.
Thelma’s is born
Lewis originally worked with a cookie delivery franchise that resisted his idea to expand the line into ice cream sandwiches to help lagging warm cookie sales in the summer.
Having no experience in creating a brand, along with a very small budget, he teamed with Saturday Mfg. When the agency recommended he invest in a branding/positioning exercise, he reluctantly took the leap. Looking back, he realizes how important it was to establish his brand positioning early and gain an understanding of his direct and indirect competition, while finding an audience that would pay for a premium product.
Recommending “joy” as the brand promise, Saturday Mfg. went to work on the new company’s identity. While Lewis was certain he wanted to name the company Thelma’s, after his 108-year-old Great Grandmother whose snickerdoodle recipe he uses, he did due diligence by considering other names and putting the name through Saturday Mfg.’s naming criteria.
Add in a sophisticated, yet warm logo and Lewis soon realized he needed to merge the warm cookie delivery and ice cream sandwich businesses into one new brand.
Getting the brand off the ground and out of the oven
What do you do when you have a great identity, a premium product and almost no budget to promote it? Thelma’s and Saturday Mfg. started by making sure the product got as much exposure as possible at local events.
Then when they hit on the idea of making the cookie delivery box look like an oven, they didn’t stop until they figured out how to produce the box on a budget. By making a larger box that held two dozen cookies at a time and moving the expense into the marketing budget, they were able to produce a piece that became a word of mouth sensation. Kudos from around the world continue to pour in and several people have asked for just the box with no cookies.
Relationship is the key
Lewis mentioned that the first few projects the companies worked on were winners, which increased his trust in Saturday Mfg. to help him make some unconventional moves. In additional, the agency amortized some costs to prove that they were willing to take some of the risk.