A gelato business might not sound like a particularly groundbreaking idea, but an emphasis on branding has proven a lifeline for Melbourne-based company Trampoline.
As the name suggests, Trampoline positions itself as a fun concept aimed at young people, namely young families, teenagers and 20-somethings. It has 11 stores, predominately in Victoria, but also in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
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Trampoline was founded in 2004 by brothers Will and Grant Crothers, who hail from a family of dairy farmers.
Armed with plenty of experience and a dairy factory already in operation, Grant’s partner Amanda Walton, now Trampoline’s chief executive, was brought into the business to add her extensive background in brand strategy to the mix.
Walton says she and her partner identified a hole in the market for premium ice cream and gelato, eventually deciding to concentrate on gelato for the health conscious, with an emphasis on natural ingredients.
Now with four company-owned stores and seven franchised-owned stores, the business is built on brand awareness. Trampoline’s trademark is the business name in bright, primary colours.
This is carried through to the store concept, consisting of equally bright colours set against a white backdrop. But as Trampoline found out, investing in impressive store fit-outs for brand impact has its drawbacks.
Walton says Trampoline is continually faced with the challenge of designing stores that look good but also communicate the product range.
“We have a somewhat minimal aesthetic so as we broadened our range, we found it difficult to convey our full product range within our stores without over-cluttering them. One way we got around this was by introducing photos on the menu board and reducing the amount of text,” she says.
Walton says heavily-branded businesses run the risk of either overwhelming their consumer with brand saturation, or boring them.
“Our brand is six years old now – it was really high impact at the time [we launched] but there is a general immunity to concepts that build up over time,” she says.
Walton says the business is restricted in the sense that it cannot deviate too far from its initial branding, but needs to remain refreshing and relevant to retain the interest of its young market.
“Generations X, Y and Z – they’re always trying to find the newest thing, so we want to appeal to them,” she says.
Despite the challenges Trampoline faces with regard to reinventing its brand, Walton says branding offers the business a huge layer of security, particularly as more competitors start to emerge in the market.
“The market has become a little bit more cluttered since we entered it – more businesses are starting to sell gelato and are promoting the fact that it is healthier than ice cream,” she says.
“But without branding, many have found it difficult to remain viable – they’ve come and gone a bit. The category has had some recent entrants but that’s not to say they will actually succeed.”
“It’s difficult for people to actually compete in the space without a strong brand behind them – you have to be the desired or preferred brand to win in this kind of business.”
“It’s important for us to claim the market by being the preferred brand in that space, which is what our intention is, because there won’t be room for every operator in that market.”