When Brands Re-Brand!

Who remembers when Opal Fruits crossed the picket line and became Starburst? When Marathon Bars left the track and became Snickers? Or when Oil of Ulay shocked us all by becoming Olay? Brands rebrand all the time. Sometimes it’s a simple refresh to remain relevant or signal a slight change in direction and sometimes it’s a complete departure from the name and the established brand. I’m sure that none of these decisions were made lightly and I’m sure every concept and subtle nuance were focus-grouped to within an inch of their life – it’s a big deal right. Businesses can spend vast sums of money building brand assets and equity so it’s not an easy decision to go back to the drawing board; however sometimes it may be absolutely necessary.

This post takes me back to the theme of brand building for food businesses. I’m not going to talk about the food itself (although it is awesome) because I’ve written a number of posts in the past about my love of jerky and biltong; instead this post is going critique the decisions on rebranding that Meat Snacks Group recently implement across their range…enjoy!

Wild West Jerky & Cruga Biltong

northernmunkeebites.wildwestjerkyoldWhat was wrong with the old branding?

Well, nothing really. It has good shelf impact. It’s simple. It has traditional and trusted cues that are relevant to the food. It has a window to allow the shopper to see the food. The brand has been careful to call out important nutritional information: protein and no nasties. So, what’s the big deal? My criticism of this platform is that it’s a bit brash, bold and dated. Although it does a lot of good things a brand needs to remain relevant to its audience and if there’s a shift in who that is then the brand needs to address that.

Was there a need to rebrand?

Yes. The meat snacking market in the UK has moved on significantly in the last three years and the target audience has shifted. When I was still active and playing sport I was the typical jerky and biltong consumer: a gym junky with a need for a high protein (yet tasty) snack. Although this consumer still exists there is a swell of early-adopting foodies that are coming to the table. So if the paradigm has moved brands need to move too.

What’s so good about the new branding?

Well, firstly it’s being considerate of the new paradigm with dialled down but still northernmunkeebites.jerkyrebrandappropriate imagery and colour palette. Big tick. Secondly, it’s kept all the good parts of the old branding and it’s managed to maintain a sufficient number of the old brand assets that it won’t completely alienate the brand’s existing fan base. Finally, the branding has morphed subtly into being more appropriate; what was ‘solid strips of marinated smoked beef’ has become ‘beef silverside marinated, smoked and cooked’. Lovely stuff!

Could they have done anything differently?

No, I don’t think they could. If the aim was to develop a brand that didn’t completely alienate existing users but would excite and intrigue new users then: job done!

Verdict – in a word, boom! If you’re Meat Snacks Group you’ve got to be really chuffed with this. It’s been a bit under the radar (much like the new imagery) but it has reacted to competition in the marketplace and stolen a march at the front again. Well played!

Northern Munkee.


My Real (ale) Friend

Product Review: Cleaver and Keg

So, here I am reviewing another meat snack – it’s a hard life being a Food Adventurer!

I now consider myself somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to meat snacking having reviewed a number of different biltongs and jerkies and understood the subtle nuances of the process that have a huge impact on the flavour delivery. The meat snacks market has now left the likes of Pepparami in its dust and matured to cater for a more sophisticated and premium palate.

I have previously referenced how far behind the UK market is in comparison to our European counterparts but we’re catching up and (thankfully) we’re going our own way. Europe’s meat lust sways towards high salt and pork products which hasn’t translated well in the UK other than in specialist outlets. The UK foodie seems to have picked up South African and American meat snacking habits and run with them with sales on jerky alone growing by 52.9% YOY according to The Grocer magazine. As with all booming trends diversification is high which has lead to the development of meat snacking products using meat other than beef.

So what’s driving the trend? Well it seems as though it’s the fitness movement. Meat snacks have a fantastic protein to fat ratio and also easily lend themselves to countless free-froms making meat snacks a very permissible treat. For the same reason the category, quite uniquely, transcends any gender preference with a good proportion of females also buying into the new trend.

This perfect storm of health and flavour has spiked interest amongst the hipster communities who are searching for something different to accompany their newfound love of hoppy IPAs. So we can see a decline in the urine-clad bowls of peanuts and garish bags of Mr Porky’s replaced in real ale pubs by olive wood platters of well-seasoned meat snacks. Which leads, nicely, into my review…

Rating: 9.5/10

Appeals to: free-from revolutionaries, hipsters, protein-junkies and beer lovers!


I’m a big fan of this packaging. It’s bang on trend and is very well positioned to sit beside a bottle of premium, real ale. The wax paper bag and old-world imagery conjures up quality and premium connotations with is complimented well by a characterful narrative on the back of pack. I think this is possibly the best example I’ve seen from a meat snacks company in terms of communicating the brand personality on pack; it’s quirky, it’s personable, it’s friendly, it’s brilliant.


£2.50 (45g bag) – you could argue that this is a little steep but if you compare it to the premium jerky option in a mainstream supermarket which retails for £2 then it’s not so bad. Plus in this category you really do get what you pay for. I’d be questioning any ‘meat’ snack that sold for much less than £1.50.


The whole Cleaver and Keg brand ethos is about complimenting drinks, with their tag line being ‘Meaty Morsels for the Modern Drinker’, so, naturally, I had to oblige and enjoy these snacks with a 7.4% dry cider…

Chorizo Cuts

Just wow! These little bites are beautifully chewy, well-seasoned with a creamy opening that gave way to a soft but deep paprika note that lingers on the tongue.

Strips O Beef

I’ll be honest, I went into this bag expecting jerky or biltong – I was wrong to do that! These are beautiful strips of chewy, tender and creamy beef that just melt with each bite.

Hot Strips O Beef

Now, imagine the flavour above but intensified with heat. I can handle my spice well but what started off as a warming hug quickly developed into a slap to the chops as I devoured the bag. I think I’m in love!

Salami Bites

Here is the snack that is most akin to the European trend in terms of flavour profile, however it couldn’t be more detached in delivery. It’s light, salty, herby and not greasy at all. A brilliant snack!

Verdict – in a word, amorous! Cleaver and Keg have produced something different to anything else on the market that I’ve seen and I love it. It is the perfect partner to a pale ale or dry cider and I think I’ve found friends for life. I think you’ve just found yourself a new best customer!

Details: http://www.cleaverandkeg.co.uk/

Northern Munkee.