hunter © vodka soda &10

Vodka Soda & / Food & Beverage From Start-Up to acquisition in five years.

Project type

Brand Start-Up

Ampersand Projects

Brand strategy, Identity, TOV, Packaging.

As Start-Up business goals go, the more obvious ones like ‘independence’ or ‘a difference in the world’ always seem to bounce around the top of the list. But when pressed, pretty much every founder on the planet will add ‘financial success’ into the mix. Be it from phenomenal growth, stock listing or selling the business for a gazillion dollars, we all want to be rewarded in some way for the hard-graft it takes to Start-Up and run a business.

Yet, when you consider 90% of Start-Ups fail, the dream of exiting with a healthy bank balance can quickly become a fantasy whilst you battle to reach year two.

“But what about those 10% success stories? What’s their secret? Their What, How and Why? Why? WHY!?!?!”

hunter © vodkasoda9

Whilst there are no blueprints for success, there are certain steps a Start-Up can take to improve its chances of reaching the promised land.

“It’s about creating value”, opines Alex Bottomley, co-founder & director of Start-Up allstars, Ampersand Projects.

“If your objective is building to sell, then everything has to be aligned to that goal. Your brand also needs to be equal in measure to your product and strategy. It’s what captures your audience in the first place”

hunter © vodkasoda&4

Left to right / Alex Bottomley, Shaun Rankins and Marcus Kellett

Naturally, having a killer idea makes all the difference, but as Alex points out, a brand needs to stand up and grab attention if it’s to achieve any sort of cut-through. In the case of the Ampersand Project’s launch, Alex and co-founders, Marcus Kellet and Shaun Rankins needed a name, strategy and identity that complimented the simple yet premium aesthetic of their first Ready-To-Drink (RTD) Vodka & Soda product.

“No agency that I have dealt with in my time understands the importance of brand more than Hunter.”
— Alex Bottomley, Co-Founder & Director.

With the resulting identity talking directly to a marketing-savvy millennial audience, the quietly sophisticated graphical language still feels refreshingly vibrant yet effortlessly cool. It’s got the heady combination of being something that looks good in your hand whilst being able to live within many different social scenes and channels.

First-to-market with their ‘Vodka Soda &’ product, the brand networked its way across the right parties, talking to the right people and Instagram accounts. Ampersand Projects quickly became the category leader. Tripling sales year on year whilst extending their portfolio of products to over thirty-two drinks, The Ampersand Project was purchased by The Australian Beer Co for an undisclosed sum in November 2023.

“Having a strong and consistent brand created a brand-equity that travelled" continues Alex. "Whilst we can attribute its impact in zeros to our bottom line, the real value to the business was intrinsic.”


Brand Scale-Up Lessons / Key Takeaways:

  • Being first to the category doesn’t always guarantee success. However, if done well, it can help establish your brand as the industry standard
  • Success comes in many forms. Beyond sales and marketing, as a Start-Up think about other ways of acknowledging your hard work. Awards such as ‘The Young Entrepreneurs of The Year’ are a good example of not only how to celebrate success, but also share your achievements amongst a wider business community
  • If your Start-Up is successful, be mindful of the cost outlays involved when scaling. In some cases, this could be the right time for founders to seek external investment

At Hunter, we can help you with:
Brand strategy, creative strategy, creative direction, art direction, copywriting, brand naming, logo design, brand identity, graphic design, packaging design, project management, production management 
and execution.

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