Grahams Milk

By The Drum | Administrator

July 27, 2006 | 5 min read

It is an old adage to say that it’s best to keep family business ‘in the family’ but the Graham family has decided to adopt this policy not only in the running of its long established dairy, but in its marketing philosophy as well. The dairy, with the aid of Three Brand Design, has recently rebranded – from product packaging to newsletters – with even the family’s business cards undergoing the rigorous process, now displaying a picture of each member of the Graham clan in black and white, as a child, enjoying happy times on the family farm – a family theme that reoccurs throughout the work.

Following the rebrand, Graham's Dairies Ltd is now known as ‘Graham’s – The Family Dairy.’

Established by Robert Graham in 1939 at Kerse Farm in Bridge of Allan, the dairy started producing and delivering milk, cream and eggs to homes in the area by horse and cart. But, over the years, the family business has grown into what is now one of the most recognisable dairy suppliers in the UK, with a daily output of 260,000 pints.

The grandchildren now run the business, with managing director Robert Graham Jnr and marketing manager Carol Graham alongside their father Robert Graham Snr.

“Focussing on the core values, what we’re about as a business is our heritage,” explains Carol Graham. “We’re based in the Bridge of Allan where my grandfather started the business so, locally people always knew of our heritage and values. However, we’ve now grown and expanded into different areas. The old brand didn’t necessarily reflect our proposition, and customers didn’t realise we were a family business. Our packaging and our labelling didn’t really differentiate the fact that we are a Scottish family business. The aim now is to convey that message.”

Following a period of discussions, the process of designing the new branding began in January this year, with all products undergoing a change of image.

Three Brand Design’s MD Campbell Laird met Robert Graham (Jnr) while on business in Copenhagen. And, following a frank conversation over the dairy’s then current branding, the Edinburgh-based design team was hired to overhaul the company’s image.

“I told him that, by developing the branding, there was potential for more opportunities,” explains Laird.

“At present there are Graham’s Dairies, Wiseman’s Dairies, Arla Dairies and Express Dairies. And there is, perhaps, a lack of any real, distinctive personality... Although Wiseman’s black and white cow does stand out,” he concedes.

“The old branding was, perhaps, a bit tired. The company had developed in leaps and bounds over the last ten years but the branding was still ten years back. It was in need of a more modern look while reflecting the company’s distinctive positioning. Essentially it was selling a product rather than a brand.

“Graham Dairies sells great quality products, it has a great reputation and, as a company, is doing exceptionally well, but was more functional and product driven rather than brand driven or market-led.”

Over the period of the exercise, Laird and the team at Three Brand, became such an integral part of the ‘family’ that many of the presentations even took place in the kitchen on the farm.

“We had to identify the story behind Graham’s,” says Laird. “This was an interesting task as what reoccurred, from the very earliest stage, was the whole theme of the family. The business still operates from a family farm, three generations on, and there are a lot of stories and a lot of photographs, lots of memories and a lot of awards.

“We identified a number of brand values, but the core value was very much that this is the family dairy as opposed to Graham’s dairy or just another dairy.

“As in any brand,” continues Laird, “there are certain things you should keep and there are certain things you should evolve. There are certain things too that you would lose. It was felt that the Graham’s name would be more personal as a signature. We didn’t want to lose the Splash completely, but wanted to make it more modern – a photographic take on the original cartoon-like sketch. We also wanted to introduce the Scottishness, but not in-your-face – more subtle. There’s a balance.”

The last time the Graham’s brand was upgraded was as far back as 1992 – over 14 years ago – so there was certainly a job to be done to keep the branding as fresh as the products that the dairy sold.

“It was a big jump for the business to make,” says Laird. “Brands constantly evolve by two or three steps, but since Graham’s hadn’t changed for quite a long period of time, it needed a bigger jump. It’s quite rare to make such a big jump while still keeping some parts of the brand which are instantly recognisable to the core customer.”

An organic range of branding has also been created with a separate identity to the conventional milk packaging, using a picture of Wellington boots rather than the milk splash. All of these products are also differentiated with a personal message, with a member of the family each endorsing the different products, adding a personal touch to reach out to customers.

The family has been delighted with the response, claims Carol Graham, however, while there have been many changes made already, Graham’s have no plans to simply rest with what they now have, but will review the response at the end of the year and see how to continue to develop the new brand and packaging.


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +