Rebrand Elevates Deeside Mineral Water to New Heights
Everyone talks about the downturn in the oil and gas industry and what impact that has had on their own company in the North East. But what happens when you rebrand your product during that downturn?
Family-owned, Deeside Water Company celebrates its 21st birthday this year and is the only mineral water in the area. We asked managing director Martin Simpson to share the secrets of the company’s success following their rebrand last year.
How did you start the company over 20 years ago?
My father, George, was in Ballater on business and visited Pannanich Wells. He saw the water flowing from the springs and into the River Dee. He thought there might be a business opportunity so we undertook some background research. We discovered that Ballater had become a spa town because of the springs at Pannanich Wells, which were known for their ‘healing’ qualities back in 1760. It had a fantastic rich history, including Queen Victoria visiting the springs when she stayed at Balmoral.
There was no other bottled water company in the area and we felt there was a market for a water with active health benefits, so we set up the company together. I gave up my job to go full-time at Deeside Water. We undertook clinical research at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to prove the health benefits, developed the original branding and set up the business. We started hand bottling from a small room near the springs and delivering the water out of the back of the car. We used to produce 480 bottles per day. Now we can produce 80 bottles per minute.
What was the turning point for the company?
A lot has happened over the last 20 years and there have been many significant events, as opposed to a single turning point. The first successful clinical trial at ARI gave Deeside Water a lot of credibility and generated publicity to help get the business started. Local restaurants, hotels and shops were really supportive and the supermarkets became big customers. Subsequent clinical research studies between 2003 and 2009 also added evidence to support the healthy properties in the water, leading to further publicity and growth.
Building the new warehouse and installing a bigger bottling line in 2006 and 2007 added significant production capacity, making operations much easier and more efficient. The rebranding has made a big difference recently and new research has opened up interesting possibilities in markets we had not considered before, which I hope will become the next major milestone.
What made you decide to rebrand the bottles for Deeside Mineral Water last year?
We felt the previous labels did not reflect the quality of the water, the history or the area the water comes from. It wasn’t ‘Scottish’ enough, did not look premium and was rather generic. We knew it was not a true reflection of how one of the purest, healthiest waters in the world should look, so we decided to change it.
Paul Lawrie launched the rebrand last year. How did that collaboration come about?
We were contacted about bottled water initially and I met Paul to discuss the possibilities. The Paul Lawrie Foundation does a lot of great work for youngsters in the area and we were keen to support this. We like to encourage people to take care of themselves in terms of what they eat, drink and by taking exercise. There were common values and we are delighted to be associated with the great work that they do.
What difference has the rebrand made to the company?
It’s made a huge difference in every way. People seem to really love the new labels and we launched a lighter-weight plastic bottle too with a new design. We’ve had positive feedback from the hotels and restaurants that stock our glass bottles to say it looks more like a premium brand now, which is what we wanted to portray. We’re 15% up year on year for sales and will produce around 3.5 million bottles this year. The new image gives a more positive impression of the brand and the company, and it has been well received.
What does the future hold?
The aim is to continue growing sales of Deeside Mineral Water in the UK and export markets, while developing new opportunities with novel product applications. We’ve got some exciting new product developments happening that aren’t so mainstream and will open up new markets for us. We’ve also taken on a commercial manager to develop and grow the business and invested in our team at the factory. All of this increases our capacity and we aim to double the business in the next three years