Rocky Mountain High Brands (RMHB) is a publicly traded company based in Dallas, TX, with an innovative line of clean label energy drinks, infused with hempseed, guarana, ginseng, beet sugar, and other simple ingredients. Their healthier, more natural take on a flavorful energizing beverage came at a time when large energy drink brands were grappling with massive lawsuits and negative PR, giving Rocky Mountain High a prime opportunity to win market share, and to expand the reach of the brand. But they had to act fast.
Formerly branded as Totally Hemp Crazy, the company decided to change the name to Rocky Mountain High, and after an unsuccessful launch by another agency, they called on Upstart Food Brands to oversee the development of the new brand. With plans to send newly branded can artwork for all 5 initial beverage varieties (Citrus Energy, Coconut Lime Energy, Mango Energy, Lemonade, and Black Tea) to the printer on an unfathomably aggressive timeline of about a week, we immediately went to work developing the new identity. From there, rapid packaging design iterations (and several very late nights) began. While a significant rebranding and packaging development process is not something we would ever recommend condensing into such a tight window, the opportunity required it, and Upstart Food Brands rose to the occasion.
STABILIZING THE BRAND FOUNDATION
In the wake of the initial rush, while the cans were being produced, we took a step back to shore up the foundation of the brand. We conducted research on the energy drink market, consumer trends, competitive brands, and target retailers in order to retroactively define a unique and defensible brand position, and to establish an engaging narrative. From this insight, we produced a 50-page brand strategy report, which guided further development.
We documented identity standards, which included logo usage specifications, color palette, type styling, and other brand essentials, and wrapped up the initial engagement with professional photography of the newly developed cans for marketing use.
CORPORATE BRANDING & LAUNCH CAMPAIGN
Our attention quickly turned to further brand development and a formal launch campaign, as the new brand identity and packaging precipitated an urgent need for a variety of other services.
With aspirations to introduce other products, and a need to engage with retailers, investors, and other stakeholders in a very different way than the consumer target, the decision was made to create a separate, corporate version of the brand. This not only meant creating a separate (yet aligned) set of identity standards, and a more B2B-focused engagement strategy, it required the development of a separate corporate website (rockymountainhighbrands.com), identity materials, sales tools (folder, sell sheets, a retail presentation, etc.), press releases, and support for some anticipated trade show exhibitions.
For the consumer brand, a robust brand launch campaign included additional photography, a new consumer website (liverockymountainhigh.com) with all new copy that aligned with the newly-developed brand story, social media support, POS materials (cooler graphics, window clings, etc.), consumer engagement strategy (blogger campaign, social media strategy, SEM campaign, etc.), merchandise strategy and design, and efficient coordination of all printing and communications to ensure a smooth launch.
ONGOING MARKETING SUPPORT
After the initial push, Upstart Food Brands became the primary branding and marketing partner for the company, providing ongoing support for the Rocky Mountain High consumer and corporate brands, and working directly with the CEO and other high-level executives, as well as their marketing and sales teams.
We developed new packaging designs as they expanded the Rocky Mountain High line, which included a brownie product, energy shots, and updates to the energy drink line, as well as contributions to the development of the naturally high alkaline Eagle Spirit Spring Water brand, and a few other product lines which never made it to market.
Ongoing needs included business card development, website maintenance, photography, POS and event support (barrel graphics, cooler graphics, banners, tents, vehicle graphics, aisle violators, posters, stickers, channel strips, window clings, displays, signs, coupons, cocktail recipe development), merchandise (hats, shirts, coozies), press releases, presentations (for retailers like 7-Eleven and brands like Coca-Cola, as well as distributors and shareholders), and implementation of large-scale promotional campaigns.
ROCK THE ROAD TRIP
Management at Rocky Mountain High felt that music was core to connecting with its target audience, and set out to address it in a big way with the launch of the Rock the Road Trip campaign. The regional music competition was designed to invite bands from Dallas, TX, and 4 surrounding states to compete for a 3 song recording package with producer Alex Gerst at Empire Sound Studio, an opening gig at a major Dallas venue, free Rocky Mountain High product, a professional photo shoot, and some promotional materials co-branded with Rocky Mountain High. They would take the road trip concept to other markets across the US, as it sought to bring attention to new music talent (and Rocky Mountain High).
Upstart Food Brands developed the entire campaign. In addition to naming the campaign and creating its identity, we developed all of the supporting materials, including photography, copy, social media assets, merchandise, promotional items, and a website where over 700 bands submitted their material for review. A panel of esteemed judges paired down the initial submissions to the top 12 entrants. Fans could visit the website, listen to music, and vote for their favorites. The 4 finalists played a showcase with SMG Records recording artist Hillbilly Vegas, and the winners were announced.
While it can be difficult to accurately quantify the impact that a variety of individual branding and marketing services can have on the success of an overall business, one measure that stands out for a publicly traded company is share price. When Upstart Food Brands began working with Rock Mountain High Brands, the stock price was at around 3 cents per share. The majority shares sold to an investor who felt that having marketing resources physically located in Dallas was a priority, so when our contract was up, so was our business relationship. At that time, however, the share price had climbed to more than 15 cents per share. While there are certainly numerous contributors to the success of a rising stock price, as the primary resource responsible for helping to rebuild the company’s brand over this period of time, it’s a safe assumption that our contributions made a meaningful difference.