By Tamsin Oxford - August 16th, 2015

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In this case study, we meet the social minds behind Wheyhey, a UK brand that has grown from zero to hero in just three years thanks to a focused brand identity online.

Social media is a rich tool that’s capable of refining a brand’s message, reinforcing its credibility and engaging with its users. In a recent article, we examined how brands need to find the right spaces in which their voices resonate and define their identity within them in order to succeed and in this piece we meet the social minds behind Wheyhey, a UK brand that has grown from zero to hero in just three years thanks to a focused brand identity online.

As a healthy, sugar-free protein ice-cream company that was founded just over three years ago they built the brand entirely from social media for the first year. They respond to over 98% of all social media interactions and have a 24-hour response time policy. We speak to Tom Ovenden, social media manager at Wheyhey, to find out more about how this small brand became a big one.

Use the home advantage

“I think that the biggest advantage to using social media to build a brand is that you are using a combination of all these different platforms that basically let you tailor-make what you want your brand to be. It lets you customize and create, not only a unique online presence, but also that original voice that you want your brand to have. And this is something that we have adopted here at Wheyhey.”

Wheyhey is competing against a strong market of protein-based products with a significant number of companies using the same imagery to communicate with their consumers. With a different brand identity and message, the company had to come up with a solution that would reach the right people without diluting the brand message.

“It’s always these huge muscle-bound guys and it is always very aggressive and macho, whereas we are sitting in this market with a brand image that doesn’t fit into that so being able to create a unique voice through social media has been a very strong part of building our platform and our brand.”

The company has used a combination of different social media solutions with the primary three being Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The social media team also uses key words to find what people are talking about.

“We find people who are speaking about the sort of topics that we’re all about, whether it is sugar-free or protein, healthy or gym-related. We target people who are already there and introduce our product to them because they understand it, and then we push past that to new markets and use this as leverage to explain who we are and what we are doing.”

Create a unique style

“There are hundreds of different social media platforms popping up every day and it is about being able to use a combination of whichever platforms you like to create your brand. I think that being able to use a custom blend of platforms is an affordable means of raising awareness. It is a very accessible form of interaction and communication that is being used by almost everyone now.”

For Ovenden, the strategy driving Wheyhey is to not just push the products that they are selling, but rather to engage on the topic and with the sector. The company used the various social media to engage with their audience and avoided cluttering the news feeds with adverts and pushy marketing messages.

“It is about walking that fine line between engaging with your audience and throwing information in their face. When it comes to adverts on TV and print, consumers will sit through them, but with social they have a lot more control. They can go to your page and Unlike it if they get annoyed. The business has to create engaging content that the user wants to see, that almost goes unseen as an advert.”

Currently Wheyhey is building a YouTube channel with video content designed to engage their specific market in their product. The company has focused on short and entertaining videos that grab attention while carrying the brand message.

“We’ve recently released one for BodyPower that ran for a total of 30 seconds and highlighted some of the products we have and things we are doing. The success of the video has shown us that this is definitely something we are going to be doing more of over the coming year.”

Understand the platforms

“I think that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram represent the three distinct areas of the social media world. Facebook is the day to day diary now, it’s about knowing what’s going on this weekend and it can’t be ignored as it is just so big. Twitter is quick fire back and forward interactions and this is one we place a heavy focus on as it gets people interacting with you.”

Wheyhey is also investigating other platforms, including new ones such as Periscope and Snapchat, to see how they can add value to the brand strategy and support building its identity online.  In addition to utilizing new spaces and solutions, Ovenden is focused on keeping brand communication as clean as possible and ensuring that Wheyhey sticks to all the right rules.

“It is a big NO to talk from a personal perspective on social media. You see it a lot on Twitter where the person representing the brand talks as ‘I’ when it should always be referred to as ‘We’. There is obviously someone controlling it and they’re speaking from a personal point of view rather than from the brand’s point of view.”

He also recommends never engaging with the negative voices or ‘trolls’ when standing as part of the brand online.

“I think that while you shouldn’t ignore these people, you have to engage them to a certain point, but it is often about diffusing that situation. Having the right tone of voice will ensure that you keep a level head and uphold the integrity of the brand.”

For Wheyhey social media has seen them gain a strong foothold in the market through the use of innovative campaigns and a robust brand identity. In November 2015, they teamed up with the Movember charity and launched a new flavor of ice-cream with the Movember logo on it. 

“Then 15% of our sales went directly to the charity and we used a massive push across all social media on both sides. It went extremely well and we had a fantastic reception to both the flavor and the idea, so we thought we should top it off with something really different. The end result was us sending a tub of our banoffee ice-cream and an M moustache into space.”

The team spoke to a physicist, used a weather balloon and sent their new flavor of ice-cream into space. It was a huge success that resulted in plenty of brand traction and was spot on in terms of the brand’s identity, voice and sense of fun.

“We’re selling an ice-cream at the end of the day, but it is positive and beneficial and we are focused on embracing that and not taking ourselves too seriously. We don’t sell guilt or health by blackmail, we are about living life the best way possible and enjoying every minute, and it is working.”

For more in-depth insight from brands on how to flourish in a rapidly changing marketing environment, check out the Incite Summit, taking place in NYC in November - and featuring senior speakers from companies like Mondelez, Dell, Cisco and HSBC.

The Incite Summit East 2015

November 2015, The Marriott Brooklyn Bridge

The USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Featuring CMOs, SVPs and marketing leaders from Dell, Citi, Chobani, Activision, HSBC, Mondelez and many more.

Brochure Programme
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