How Anya Hindmarch and Primark Highlighted the Power of Brand-to-Customer Connections

Plenty of brands can claim to have a strong, recognisable identity in their respectivefields like Apple, Nike, Tiffany & Co, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, to name a few.

But what’s more interesting are the brands that can jump category and interpret that identity in a different way to offer something recognisable but new. That’s because to do that successfully you don’t just need to be a strong brand, you need strong consumer connections.

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Reinventing Grocery Favourites

Over the last 10 years, UK fashion brand Anya Hindmarch has reinvented classic branding from grocery staples like Kellogg’s cereals into different bags and fashion accessories.

Fans have gone crazy over the designs as Hindmarch works to transform everyday items customers see on store shelves into something different and unique.

Hindmarch has also pushed into other – more unusual – product categories in the last few years. This includes the company’s pop-up Ice Cream Project, which has been a summer staple for the last two years due to demand.

Customers who visited the pop-up could buy tubs of ice cream with flavours inspired by well-known products like Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Birds Eye peas. The tub packaging reflected the existing packaging of these household names.

Meanwhile, Anya Hindmarch’s most recent supermarket themed pop-up – Anya Mart –offered scented candles that smelt like the products of its chosen partner brands, including Heinz, Imperial Leather, and Kellogg’s. Again, the candle jars and boxes drew from the packaging designs of the selected products.

These design collaborations show how strong branding can carry over into new areas if treated with care and attention. For example, the Ice Cream Project was successful because the ice cream was designed to be good rather than a gimmick.

Novelty certainly plays a part in Anya Hindmarch’s collaboration success, but the primary factor is the role these brands play in consumers’ lives and their feelings towards them.

Brands like Heinz and Kellogg’s have a long heritage and most consumers are very familiar with them. They’re brands that conjure up feelings of home and security and comfort. And these are powerful emotions for creating a long-term customer connection.

From Bakery to Fashion

Successful category jumping isn’t just something that happens at a luxury level as seen with Anya Hindmarch. There are also brands who doing the same thing at the high street level.

One great example is the collaboration between fast fashion giant Primark and British bakery chain Greggs in 2022. This reimagined the brand logo and colours of Greggs in a fashion collection that spanned everything from hoodies and t-shirts to hats and socks.

Part of the motivation behind the collaboration is a strong crossover between Primark and Greggs’ customer bases, with both known for their affordability. Several Primark stores now even host Greggs bakery spaces.

But again, the strong customer response to this different usage of Greggs’ brand has been testament to the customer love that the company has. Consumers won’t just wear any company logo on their clothes, especially not for a bakery chain. There has to be a strong emotional connection.

In the case of Greggs, many customers associate the company with a comforting feeling. But the brand has also taken on a cultural position among British consumers, where the love one person has for it is immediately recognisable and understood by another. This combination of public and personal consumer love makes Greggs an ideal candidate for exploring new brand interpretations.

The Right Kind of Customer Love

Not every brand can be successful in product categories that are completely different to the ones they’re known for. In fact, there may be an argument to say that brands that are too ‘cool’ may struggle more than others.

This is because cross-category success often relies on a certain kind of customer love – a nostalgic, comfort-driven, universal love. The brand has to be recognisable to all – not just by its packaging or logo, but by what it represents to customers and how it makes them feel. And as these examples show, a brand doesn’t have to be flashy to connect with customers.

by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs, Head Trends Writer & Researcher, Insider Trends