Startup To Scale

149. What It Means to Build a CPG Brand

December 04, 2023 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 149
149. What It Means to Build a CPG Brand
Startup To Scale
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Startup To Scale
149. What It Means to Build a CPG Brand
Dec 04, 2023 Season 1 Episode 149

Branding is more than just your logo or packaging design. Branding is how you and your company show up in the world, and how people view your actions, your values, your products, your mission, and your vision. Your visual identity just becomes a shorthand for customers to easily identify all the other more meaningful things.

Join me for one of my favorite recent conversations with Leonard Grape, founder of The Vineyard, a branding firm for CPG brands to share his insights.

*For content creation services, choose Happy Copy and use code Foodbevy20 to enjoy a 14-day free trial along with a 20% discount! 🌟

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Show Notes Transcript

Branding is more than just your logo or packaging design. Branding is how you and your company show up in the world, and how people view your actions, your values, your products, your mission, and your vision. Your visual identity just becomes a shorthand for customers to easily identify all the other more meaningful things.

Join me for one of my favorite recent conversations with Leonard Grape, founder of The Vineyard, a branding firm for CPG brands to share his insights.

*For content creation services, choose Happy Copy and use code Foodbevy20 to enjoy a 14-day free trial along with a 20% discount! 🌟

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

What It Means to Build a CPG Brand

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Branding is more than just your logo or packaging design. Branding is how you and your company show up in the world and how people view your actions, your values, your products, your mission, your vision, all these things all wrapped together. And then like your visual identity just becomes a shorthand for customers to , easily identify all the other meaningful things that you're doing in the world.

So I want to dive into this topic a little bit more to help give you some perspective on how to approach building your brand and what you're known for. So I've invited on Leonard Grape, who is the founder of The Vineyard branding firm for CPG brands to really share his insights. Welcome to the podcast.

Leonard Grape: Thank you so much, Jordan, for having me. I'm so excited to be on the other side of the microphone this time.

Jordan Buckner: I know. I'm excited to we're going to be recording a podcast episode on yours as well soon. But I am excited to talk with you about this because, you know, first off, you know, I would love for you to give me like your introduction or definition on [00:01:00] branding.

I kind of gave a little bit of mine like , in the intro, but I love to hear your thoughts because you Work with brands on this all day in the companies on this all day long. How do you view just like an overview, like what a brand is? And what does it stand for? 

Leonard Grape: Yeah, , that's a great question. And I thought when you were doing the introduction, you've cited a lot of important key insights on what a brand means. I'd like to tackle this in sort of two ways. First is going back on the etymology of brand and in the literal sense, when you say brand, it's actually like putting a stamp on something.

It's like in the old days, it's where if you own a cow, you have to brand it. So you like put the stamp , on your cows to make sure that it's yours and people would identify it as something that belongs to you. There have been so many definitions of branding. From different firms, from different specialists, but throughout my years of working with different companies at different levels and different industries, I've sort of like created my own definition of branding Jordan, and it goes this way.

Brand for [00:02:00] me is the overlap between the science of emotional buying and the hierarchy of man's needs. I like that. , yeah, tell me a little bit more. Yeah. Because if you take a look at it at the end of the day, there's actually this research that says 95 percent of consumers buy not based on logic, but based on emotions.

And the only way that you can really cut across and relate to your customers on an emotional level, if, if you go beyond the product, beyond the service and your tool to do that would be. The brand. So the brand in its sense is how you personify a product, a service, or a business so that you'll have the ability to connect emotionally to the consumers.

So , that's really focusing on the emotional buying side of any industry. The other point, as I mentioned, would really be the overlap with the man's hierarchy of needs. At the end of the day, every consumer, no matter what segment, no matter what Industry, as I mentioned, would be focused on how a certain brand solves or provides value to his needs.

And [00:03:00] hierarchy of needs is a truth among everyone already, right? So it's whether your basic physiological needs. If you're hungry or thirsty, and then you probably need like food and beverage. But there's also like a sense of belongingness. There's also a sense of fulfillment. There's also a sense of security that you want as a person.

So to me, brand is really a tactic and a strategy where you Bring your business into a level that can connect emotionally to the consumer so that you can influence their buying behavior. And you do that if you understand how to really appeal to certain levels of the needs of your target market. Is that making sense, Jordan?

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I love that. You know, it actually brings up a conversation that I had with a friend. A few years ago who was talking about like, wanting to buy a Tesla electric car. Right? And they were saying like, Oh, no, it's a really like logical decision on why I want to buy this car. You know, it's the best electric car for all these reasons.

I said, no, like, really, they have this emotional connection to the car and then justify it with. [00:04:00] Logical explanation, but if you're the take the company brand name out of it and just look at like the specifications of the car, the mileage and all those things, then you know, other cards might actually be better on paper by specifications.

But people justify buying a certain brand, because they have that emotional connection to it and it plays into food as well. You know, one thing I love about and love and hate about the food industry is that. Literally everyone in the planet eats, and so everyone has a opinion on food, right? Like, if you're selling construction equipment for high rise buildings, like, most people have no idea about it and don't care.

But if you're talking about food, like a bag of chips, a candy bar, like, everyone can have an opinion because everyone , can eat that product. And what it does is it kind of create these opportunities to create a fan base, create something that like is meaningful beyond just the commodity of the food.

And that's where a lot of our listeners are really playing in that space. So in thinking about those two areas, how do you then start to like, as a founder of a company, start , [00:05:00] to really manifest those things, or to think about them when you're crafting your story, your products, your communication about it.

Leonard Grape: I have what I call the four quadrants of brand development. In the past few years, I've really focused now on CPG, but I'd like to answer in a more general context first. And then maybe down the line, Jordan, I could like also give my perspective on, as you mentioned in the food and beverage space, right?

But the way it turns out , for every company, I take a look at four. Quadrants, the first quadrant being the audience at the end of the day, , you build a brand, you build a company, you build a business to solve a consumer problem or need or address a consumer need. And so the very first thing that we typically take a look at, and I'd recommend other founders to take a look at would really be your audience.

Who exactly is your audience? The very base ones would be their demographics and psychographics, but there are now a lot of other market subsets that you need to be taking a look at. Like what are their beliefs? What are their mindsets? Is this like geographically influenced? So [00:06:00] understanding who your specific target market is really the foundation on everything that you'd have to do.

Like if I put in the context of how I did it with my firm, previously we're working with. all types of businesses in different industries, right? And then we zeroed in now on the better for you food and beverage CPG space. So that's our audience. So now once we're clear in that, and we've identified, how can we add value into this segment?

What are their problems? What are their pain points? And what can we bring in really , to help them out? And then we go to the second quadrant, which is possessioning, which I think , is right at the heart of success of. Probably most, if not of successful companies around the world.

Right. And when we talk about possessioning, it has two major components. The first one being the unique selling proposition, which answers the question, why should your customers choose you? The second one would be the value proposition statement, which now gives more reason to your customers to really like affiliate with you.

And become a loyal fan base of what you're [00:07:00] trying to offer. And the tactical point of view, this is probably where you'd see Jordan, people like doing competitive scan, doing analysis in terms of their service design offering. And in the CPG space, I have like what I call the hierarchy of product differentiation, essentially just identifying if you belong in this certain category and you're addressing the certain market, however, you make sure that you're standing out.

So , that's the possessioning. Once that's clear, if you say like, okay, this is how I'm going to possession my product or brand, then you go now to the third quadrant, which is the character. Earlier, our premise really is like addressing that emotional connection that you want to be able to achieve.

The character helps you do that by being clear on your character. What I mean by this would be. What's your personality going to be like? Are you a fun brand? Are you a timid brand? Are you like a rebellious brand? And if that's going to be your direction, you have to understand what's your brand archetype, like what's going to be your tone of voice.

I love to say that we're in the era now, Jordan, where businesses are being personified by brands and people are becoming [00:08:00] businesses through personal brands. So you see like a good overlap of what I mean here when I talk about. Character. So , that's really like, what's going to be your story, what's going to be your character.

And then when you have these all three, you now go to the final item, which is your identity. And you've touched on this. You say, you mentioned earlier that your brand becomes a shorthand for people to really familiarize yourself with. And I think that's because once you have clarity on those three components, you build up your visual identity.

And we talk about visual identity, not just with your logo. Because your logo is essentially your visual identifier. Whether you have an icon, a wordmark, or whatever you have, that's your identifier. But your whole identity would really be all about how you show up, how your marketing collaterals would look like, what's gonna be your consistency across your different marketing touchpoints.

So in a nutshell, those four quadrants, I would say, would be critical in building a really, really strong brand. So you've got audience, you've got positioning, you've got character, and then you've got identity. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that how you break those down, because I think it's [00:09:00] really important to have a framework for thinking about how you show up in the world and how your company exists.

I think for some of our listeners, that's like, yep, I got it. That makes ton of sense. I love those different areas. I think there's other listeners who are thinking like, oh, that sounds very Like too intellectual for like my brand. Like I'm just making some gluten free crackers and it's a great product.

I just want to get that out in the world. And one thing that I see and experiences or talk to founders about is right. Like you have a thousand, probably 10, 000 touch points in the world through the website that you make. Maybe you're selling at a farmer's market. You're talking to a retail buyer, right?

Like as a person, as a company. You have so many people that you're interacting with on a daily basis and how do you shorten all that down into what you want people to think and feel about you, right? Like, if you think about a friend or a person that, you know, you really talk about them and saying like, oh, they're really like a really smart person.

That's great at this or so and so is like [00:10:00] really beautiful and they're doing. You know, pageants like you just have like an identity that you describe people with, even though they're much more complex person. And it's similar with your business. And do you want to control some of that narrative?

Or do you want to just like be as you are like, let that exist in the world. And I think what you're kind of referencing is to be just more thoughtful on how you're showing up in the world really codifying the things that are important to you to make sure that You're putting your best foot forward and that people are thinking about you, your company and your products , in a certain light that is resonating and building the community that can have some sense of like shared identity.

Leonard Grape: That's an interesting one, and I think that's a very difficult question, Jordan, but I think it's a fair perspective to take a look at and you're right, putting this into a more tactical and a more simplified manner, I'll try, because I used to say that CPG branding or branding in general is complex, but it doesn't have to be complicated, so I get you when you've mentioned, like, if someone's listening to this, like, [00:11:00] What's going to be my main takeaway.

This is a challenge , for everyone who wants to delve into branding. I would say you have to really figure out what's that one thing that you want to be remembered by. I'll give a specific example, like on, on cross industries. When you talk about Coca Cola, you'd probably think about happiness. That's it.

That's going to be their general sense, right? When you talk about Nike, the first thing that comes to my mind would be greatness. When you talk about Apple and this is like a commodity and Nike is also like commodity, they sell shoes for, the heck's sake, right? And they're selling so much Apple.

I'd probably think about how you become different. that's why they became so famous when they ran that commercial featuring You know, global icons who think differently, like Einstein and all of those things. And they've got this memorable line where they said, crazy are the ones who think they can change the world, but usually they're the ones who actually do.

So what I mean by this is you try to figure out what's that one thing. If you're a [00:12:00] service provider, there's a good formula that I typically use to help, like LinkedIn content creators or other service providers. And , it's like the X, Y, Z formula. So you have to say like, we help X, which is your target market, do or achieve Y, which is going to be your desired results that you want to offer without Z or which is the pain point that you're trying to remove because of your service.

So two, two components. Yeah. Because it's going to be difficult to really like pinpoint. One thing, but I hope that's making sense on the food and beverage standpoint, though, Jordan, what I love to say would be you can never win with the losing product, but even a great product would lose without a winning brand.

That's probably my key takeaway in the way I do branding , for CPGs, for the food and beverage industry. And how you do that now is really, again, figuring out what's one thing that you want to offer in the market. Like I was just talking , to The founder of a brand that I was saying they made olive snacks sexier , in the market.

So , the way they differentiated their, their [00:13:00] brand is basically just by saying, we want to give you a much more convenient and enjoyable way of eating olives as a snack. That's it. So that's their one thing and that's what their brand stands for. That's what their marketing , would really focus on.

And that's how you zero in on that one thing using the power of brand 

Jordan Buckner: Jordan. Yeah. I love those liners. And I think those are great , examples. One of my favorites recently, I'm curious, do you think it's, the company liquid death, who is selling water, right? Like the most commoditized of any product, like you can't get more basic than taking water out the ground and then putting in a bottle and selling it.

Right. Like it's the most basic thing, but what I love about them is they've identified this pain point, I think, especially in the U S where it costs raw, if this like people who. Don't have any identifiers with water, right? , there's, I think, maybe in, like, the 90s, like, Fiji water was, like, the Starbucks of water, whereas, like, you know, the most expensive water you can buy is artisanal water from Fiji, right?

Like, that was a certain type of consumer who was buying that. [00:14:00] And liquid death what they said is there's so many people who don't care about water. Let's give them something fun and entertaining to care about, like, the rebels and people, or, you know, the, like, machinists who are just, like, working blue collar workers and they're, like, want something to care about and it's created , this cult following of just, like, a really fun, exciting brand.

You see their can that has, like, a skull on it and it's nothing special about the water other than the fact that It invites you to be part of this, like, rebellious community that's like, Hey, look, like, I'm cool now. Right? It looks like a tall boy can of beer or something, but it's water. And so, right?

Like, people who don't drink water don't like, there's a lot of people I know who like. Drink like Mountain Dew or like, you know, sodas or things like that. And they like, wouldn't want just like a flimsy bottle of water, right? As long as it's really hot. And so they've been able to capture this personality and put it into a canned water beverage, which is taken off, right?

There's nothing special about the product [00:15:00] other than , the brand itself. 

Leonard Grape: Yeah, that's a perfect example and I've been following liquid that in such a crazy, you know, it's just a crazy journey and a crazy example of the power of brand, right? So, but I think they've done a lot of really great tactical points on the brand standpoint.

Now it reminds me of what I call the hierarchy of product differentiation for the food and beverage space. And usually. For the past year, I've been trying to like pattern , this framework that I have, and then take a look at the certain markets. So let's take, for example, liquid death, the hierarchy of product differentiation tells you that there are certain levels on how you can better differentiate your brand or product.

The very first one would be product offering. You take a look at, do you really have something very innovative, or do you really have something so unique as a product offer? And typically. It's not going to be that because like in the case of liquid that they're essentially just offering water. So there's nothing so unique about that.

So you can differentiate yourself there, right? Unless you're probably offering, you know, like a new discovery of of a functional water, whatever it is. The second one really be your product [00:16:00] feature. If you can't compete at a product offering level. Are there any other values or benefits or features that your product would have?

In the case of the olive example, it's the only product in the market that's, you know, in a pouch. So typically olives would really be like, you know, in a bottle and then there's water so you can really like eat it on the go in the case of liquid death I think it's really , the packaging.

So as you mentioned, it's like an exciting water just because it's within like a packaging that doesn't seem like water. The third one though, which is right in the middle would be what I call the tribal market. And I think this is really where Liquid Death took off. They saw this and I remember I read this article where the founder was in a concert and they saw like the band, a rock star drinking water I think in an energy drink.

Like can, but it's actually just water, right? And so he thought , there's gotta be like a better way of offering a certain product in this market. And so you're right. Like, these are the rebels. These are like, you know, the misfits, these are like the rock stars. And now they address that market. The fourth, and then the last one would be the most [00:17:00] important ones, the position in perception.

So now when you buy water, when you think about liquid death, you see this rebellious brand, you see this brand that doesn't care. So people perceive it as more fun than your typical water. it's more exciting. It understands me. So you perceive it as the brand for yourself. The final one. Which takes a long time to happen is when you be able to get to the level and you have an emotional registry with your consumers.

So now, like now you'd see like people would actually vouch for liquid death. You'd see like when they go to concert, they feel something about the brand now. And it didn't like take like, you know, a few years, you know, they've been trying to build it up consistently. So you're right. It's a perfect example.

And typically that's what we'll do to. Help CPG brands also take a look at their product differentiation. So , those five hierarchy, Jordan. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that hierarchy because I think it really helps to enter in the space and know what challenge you really need to solve and how you differentiate. And, and it's important, right?

Like, you never hear liquid death talking about [00:18:00] really, like, they don't even talk about, like, hydration, right? There's some companies who, like, talk about hydration. There's some water companies that talk about electrolytes, right? Like, they don't actually talk about any of that stuff. It's really just about that, as you mentioned, like, tribalism and the phantom of vile misfits, right?

That's what they talk about. And I think this is what's important to our listeners. Like, what's going to be that thing that you talk about that's missing from the category that's going to make you stand out because you can't talk about everything. If you do, then you'll mean little to everyone, , and they will really think about you.

Mm-Hmm, , you'll, you'll be forgotten. And so what are those things that you want to just repeat over and over again? And the one thing that I love also about. Most brands is that brands really take off based on time and like number of touch points, right? So like the more time someone hears about you or experiences you or has an interaction or sees your product on the show, then the more you begin to accumulate the sense of like who this company is or who the brand is.

And it's something that you can direct, but it also [00:19:00] kind of takes time. I'm curious to your thoughts just in terms of like, as you're like, there's some of the. Strategic things that you can start to do, but then how do you kind of incorporate the number of touch points or time into , that equation?

Leonard Grape: That's interesting. And the last one that I've seen, you probably need about like seven to 10 touch points before you really get to convince the consumer to trust your product. It's a tough game. I think across industries. The number one challenge in terms of how you build a brand and awareness would really be consumer education and the way you strategize and like really approach it would be two things for me.

It goes back to the basic essence of brand strategy. The way I simplify the definition of strategy is really just finding a position of advantage so you can hopefully win. And then you just use brand as a tool, right? On a tactical point of view, it goes back to like, what are you going to target first?

If you're targeting like a younger generation, you probably need to like, focus your effort at the beginning in a social platform like TikTok. Although now we know that TikTok is not just a platform for Gen Zs. So how you [00:20:00] integrate that across your touchpoints is again, you go back to that brand strategy and be clear about who you're targeting, what you're offering, and who are you competing with, and then figure out what are the primary and secondary marketing platforms that you're going to focus on, especially if you're just starting out.

Because one mistake that I've been seeing across industries is, and this was the same mistake that I've done in my own firm, because you need to be Present for your customers in the most. possible number of ways you try not to think that you need to be everywhere at once. And I think that's a mistake.

Touch point is really like how much time you spend on a certain marketing platform to make sure that you can be as present as possible. So what I'd recommend is focus on your Primary and secondary platform in terms of your marketing, and then have like a third and fourth support platform, meaning you got to get so good at one thing first in this first platform.

And then you get better in your secondary platform and then the third and fourth one would be if you have extra time, if you have enough bandwidth and then you take a look at it. [00:21:00] So, for example in the CPG space, what I've seen so far is a really good approach is you focus on direct to consumer first.

And again, that's a whole independent business on its own. But if you don't have enough capital to go into retail, you focus on that one. And you probably like identify two platforms that can drive traffic to your website, whether that's one social platform. Like Midday Squares did a great job with Jake Carl's, you know, making a drama out of a chocolate bar.

And they leveraged TikTok in the first couple of years, and then they've grown so much from there. And now they're in retail. Now they have like OOH, , other marketing touch points. But if you can zero in on one thing, I think that's going to be a strategic way to do it. One, it's going to help you really get good at one thing.

Second, it's going to help you really maximize every penny that you have, especially if you're in the CPG space, wherein we know that margin is really the name of the game. And then third, I think it helps you not be as stressed, you know, when you try to do many things at once at certain times. Is that making sense, Jordan?

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, it does. And , there's two things I think that's [00:22:00] really smart to do. And I see, you know, I've made that mistake of myself or a lot of different ways. And there's something that's hard to do and it's still learning. So two things I want to touch on in your share. One thing you mentioned is that.

You know, when you talk about education for consumers and hitting those touch points and really understanding what people are looking for one mistake that I made with my CPG brand Teasquares is that we were entering a market that we're trying to change a consumer behavior. We're talking about energy and focus and using Tea and like an edible energy bar format.

When most people think of energy in terms of liquid coffee or liquid like energy drink or even a liquid tea and that was like a really hard conversation to change. And 1 thing I found is that the more you have to educate a consumer on what you are and how they use it. The more expensive it is to run your business and to grow and will run you out of money faster versus if someone can understand what you are in three seconds, then it's much easier.

And I think that plays into, as you mentioned, like that whole idea of focusing on [00:23:00] reaching. A smaller number of consumers a lot of times versus kind of reaching a lot of potential customers one time. And it's really hard. And I know you've probably seen this as well. He's for me with business when you're starting out.

It's like, you don't have any existing customers to really. Focus on so you're out there trying to find as many people as possible and identify who those customers could could be and using those demographics and psychographics. But then it kind of feels like you want to be everywhere at once, but then you're spread so thin, it feels like nothing's really working.

And then you have to try that in and say, okay, where do I see that light? Like, what's that 1 or 2, like you said, platforms or messaging strategy that are working and then almost kind of. Cut the other things out or do them minimally and like focus and double down on what's working because especially in today's environment, there's a lot of ways to waste a lot of money on meta ads and ads and all these other platforms.

If they're not driving business in.

Leonard Grape: Exactly. And I remember. [00:24:00] One more example based on what you mentioned and what we're currently discussing. There's this, I was recently talking to the founder of BTR Nation. , they're basically a protein bar. And one thing I tackled with her would be when you were planning your protein bar company, did it ever occur to you?

And I'm sure it did. Did it ever occur to you that there So many protein bar brands already in the market. And here you are thinking about building another one. And definitely it crossed her mind, but the clarity that she had would be number one, we're going to have a focused market. So we don't really try to serve those who are looking for protein bars.

Don't have allergens in them because they're a not brand, but it's going to be a better for you brand. So, and then they're only just going to focus on a couple of benefit. Number one, it's going to be no sugar and a number is going to be real ingredients. And then they want it like the, I think , the segment that they're trying to really address at the beginning would be those who love to eat in vending machines.

So what I'm trying to get at is that's, that's the main thing that they're zeroed in on. In terms of like possessioning, there's another [00:25:00] brand that I can remember I forgot the name of the brand, but the way they did their initial marketing was to just focus on specialized stores and local markets.

So at the beginning, that's all she cared about. Like I have this product idea. I don't have the money to really like, you know, do big time marketing, which you'll need down the line, but depends on what stage you're in, but how they focus on during the time. So you just get feedback and then focus on certain touch points or distribution channels.

There's another brand that did that. They were trying to enter , into the bar hospitality industry market. So that's all they cared about at the beginning. So like the way they treat their messaging from a cocktail mixer to becoming a lifestyle drink was really based because of that focus that they have early on.

So yeah, I think there's a lot of like nuggets of tactical tips that your listeners can take from that Jordan. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. I love all those examples. Ashley, who's the founder of BTR Nation, is a good friend and it's interesting because one thing I love is that she has mastered the Emotional storytelling elements [00:26:00] and showing up in front of customers all the time and lots of different platforms get email on just like in so many different ways.

And I see so many people just really attaching to her story and joining that tribe. And she has slogan being, tenacious and resilient, and they're both tenacious and resilient, and it's really great because she's really create this following of people that love the product, but then come back over and over again and support it and grow the word of mouth because of her personal story.

And I love those elements of having like a really strong product and a small focus, and then really leveraging like what you're good at. And for her is that storytelling to grow within those customers. And that's how you built the tribe as we've been mentioning. 

Leonard Grape: Exactly. And because you mentioned that, I now remember like two simple tactical tips that you can do to help with your consumer education, your consumer marketing strategy based , on this initial premise.

One would be use yourself, you're the face of the brand there are so [00:27:00] many companies now we're building in public, meaning as a face of the brand, if you have like a story to tell, if there's like a good personal connection with why or how you started your company, or if you just want to show people how you're building it, the ups and downs, the challenges that helps build an emotional connection.

The other tactical tip in terms of how you can really stand out across the sea of. So many competition in terms of getting attention. If you're just willing to do the things that are unscalable, then you probably get a better chance of standing out. So what I mean by that on a tactical note, a lot of people would probably send out.

A generic email promo, probably last Black Friday, right? Yeah. But if you want to stand out, you probably want to send out like a real customized personalized email, add it up with a shock and awe package, maybe send out a real parcel with a freebie with a, like a handwritten letter. Those are unscalable things, right?

I mean, obviously it's not going to be your bread and butter for a long time, but if you want to stand out, I think that's a good point to consider. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I love that last point because I [00:28:00] was reading this conversation with Kyle, who's the founder of wild way and they make granola and other products, but he has this phrase, which is sustainable over scale.

And the idea is that there's so much. Talk about scaling a company and I think it's this mindset of bigger is better and you want to have a big company. So you can sell it and make a lot of money 1 day. But what's more powerful and I think a lot of founders are pushing towards this as well. Now is actually creating a sustainable business.

And when you create a sustainable business, that means you could be more successful, more profitable, more sustainable at a smaller level, which allows you to do those personal things that you're mentioning. Right? And I think that, like, yes, there's. Opportunities for large companies, but yes, there's also opportunities for midsize and smaller companies to all equally have their own success.

And I love all those elements of being personal, you know, even like, you just mentioned, like, having, like, if you email, even your top. 15 customers who are buying [00:29:00] from you a lot and make that really personalized and thank them, send them like a recorded video message that's like, just for them that goes a long way into making them feel that they're really connected to you and the product and they're cared about.

Leonard Grape: Yeah, a hundred percent. I love that. And I love also that principle that you mentioned about building slow and steady and in building a sustainable business. You know, that's the same mindset that I had to shift in my own company the past few years. So I'm always gonna like, usually at this time of the year, towards the end of the year, I usually like set what's my growth tactic for next.

Yeah. How much percentage growth in revenue would I want and seeing what I've seen so far and knowing what I know now, I'm more focused on what are the most efficient initiatives that I should be focusing on next year? What are the top three things that I should just really be very good at? And how can we make sure that we like build a sustainable business?

So this year for the very first time ever, Jordan, the way I forecasted my next year would really be what's my base. If I hit this base, I'm going to be [00:30:00] happy. I can have more time with my wife and daughter. I can like create a few more projects while at the same time thinking that I'm not going to be like, you know, just lazy and laid back, but I'm not going to pressure myself to say like, I need to be.

To hit another 50 percent growth in revenue. I need to like be at a certain level of revenue. Because if you think about it, for me, entrepreneurship, and we were talking about this before we hit record, to me, entrepreneurship generally is freedom. And sometimes you think about freedom as if like having tons of money, which is great, right?

I mean, that's the end goal. Probably we can make that. Why not? But I've realized now that freedom is making. that decision on how you want to spend each day. Like if I want to wake up a little later today because my daughter wants to play with me, that's success for me. If I say like, I don't want to work tomorrow because you know, I'd rather like go out for lunch or I'd rather step out this afternoon just for a quick coffee break with my wife, that's freedom for me.

And the way I want to do that is if I build a slow and steady business where I don't burn myself [00:31:00] out, I don't stress out too much. I just try to make sure that You know, it's going to be a business that's built. Within my desired lifestyle. So I just want to put it out there. 

Jordan Buckner: I absolutely love that. And agree.

I love that mindset of setting the base where it's like, okay, if it's below this, like, yeah, some weird things to worry about things that might not be working, but it's something that you should be able to hit and then feel good about and then have. Something above that, where you're still working to grow.

Cause you're so right. Like I did this to myself and I know so many founders do is that we set these goals and then we're constantly failing to meet them because they're overly optimistic. We were never ever going to meet them as well. And when you do that a couple of times, you're like, Oh, great.

Like it's motivating me. I'll reach for the sky and. They say reach for the stars and land in the clouds, which is great. But when you are setting goals every month and 12 months out of the year, you're failing and you're not hitting your goal, it starts to weigh on you. You're like, am I not doing anything wrong?

It's like, no, like you're just setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. And so I think that weighs on a [00:32:00] lot of founders as well. Like I'm not doing anything right. And it leads to this bad cycle. So I just want to say, I love , that mindset of around setting the base. For your goal setting and then finding the freedom of time to be able to do the things that are important to you.

And it's a journey. And I think that's such a powerful place to be in. And I'm happy that you've gotten to that point. That's something that I've been really focused on and sharing with other founders as well. So I'm really happy that that you talked about that. 

Leonard Grape: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

You know, it's, it's been a crazy journey and you're right in saying that typically as founders and as entrepreneurs, as it is, we're figuring things out 90 percent of the time. So if you add like more pressure into that, just because you, we put like unrealistic goals. And this is not to say that you won't have like the right goals, right.

But you want to have to set goals that are aligned with your values and how you want to live your life. Because I've been reflecting on this a lot of past few weeks in the past few months, sometimes you'd feel like you're failing where in fact, you're not like, if you do like a couple of great decisions in one [00:33:00] quarter and you see like a couple of great results out of that, even if it's not.

essentially, you know, an impact on your top line, you're probably not failing at all. Because as you mentioned, it's going to be a journey. And my favorite entrepreneurship line comes from Reid Hoffman, co founder of LinkedIn. Building a business or becoming an entrepreneur is essentially jumping off the cliff while you figure out how to open your parachute.

Like you don't know like if you're gonna land well, if you're gonna die out of it like after some time. So if you're in that journey, you might as well try and enjoy every single day of it, Jordan.

Jordan Buckner: I love it. Let's enjoy it. And to our listeners, enjoy the journey because that's the only thing that you can really have control over in the end.

Leonard, thanks so much for being on the podcast today. I really enjoyed our conversation. 

Leonard Grape: Likewise, Jordan. And I'm really glad that I was able to do this. As you'd know, most of the time also on the other side of the microphone, as I mentioned. So thank you so much for this opportunity, Jordan.

Jordan Buckner: I'd love for you to give just a quick mention of the [00:34:00] work that you do through the vineyard in case people have listened to this conversation.

I'm like, yes, I need to be thinking about my brand more in this way. How can they get ahold of you and how can they work with you?

Leonard Grape: Yeah, thanks for this. First of all, I'm very active on LinkedIn. So my focus now is a brand development specialist particularly for the better for you food and beverage CPG space.

So plant based snacks, vegan products, functional beverages. So if you want to like get daily tips and see more of my writing, do follow and connect with me on LinkedIn. But if you're a food and beverage CPG brand who needs help leveraging brand. To differentiate your products, stand out and help boost sales.

Then you can visit our website at www. thevineyardbc. com. We've got a lot of like blogs and thought leadership articles there that you can take a look at. And as a special promo, and as my gratitude for Jordan, for having me on the show, we're actually offering a special offer. For Foodbevy community and your listeners and your subscribers, we have our unlimited copywriting service called Happy [00:35:00] Copy.

So if you're in need help in terms of boosting your content, and you don't have to write all of those blog materials, LinkedIn posts, website articles, then you can probably consider this. It's at happycopysop. co and we're offering a 14 day free trial and 20 percent discount. You can just use Foodbevy20 as discount coupon.

And finally, I have a podcast that's called brand start goes healthy. So if you're a food beverage, CPG founder, or a stakeholder in the CPG space, you'd probably enjoy listening to that podcast once again, Jordan, thanks so much for having me and I've really enjoyed our conversation. 

Jordan Buckner: Thanks so much as well.

And to our listeners, I'll link all those links in the show notes, so you can jump in, follow Leonard and check out any of the help that you need. I use HappyCopy myself to help with article writing and blog posts, and it's been really helpful. Leonard, thanks so much again. 

Leonard Grape: Yeah, it's been fun. Thank you.