Don’t get us wrong, we love working with all types of businesses, but we’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for children’s brands. Maybe it’s because we’re mums. Maybe it’s because we also run a small children’s brand ourselves. Or maybe it’s just because it brings out the little kid in us. Whatever it is, we love following what’s going on in the world of baby and child branding. So we thought we’d share our thoughts about the brands we love, and why they are successfully winning hearts, minds and market share.
We love Mini Boden. Yes, it’s an extension of the Boden parent brand, but given the strength of its position within the kids’ market, we think it still counts for inclusion on this list. As an example of a fully considered, clearly defined, strategically focused brand, it’s a real corker. Every single detail of the Boden customer experience is considered from a brand perspective. From the carefully personalised e-shots to the beautifully cultivated Instagram feed, everything is just so. Bold, fun, warm, witty, and above all, quintessentially British, the Boden brand knows exactly what it’s doing. The brand identity is a seamless extension of the product itself, with a distinctive yet (miraculously) flexible colour palette and an unmistakably recognisable tone of voice. And the best thing? It’s getting better all the time. The launch of Boden’s ‘New British’ positioning last year clearly marked Boden’s intention to make the brand relevant to a new generation of customer, and we’re looking forward to seeing the brand come to life on the high street as its multi-channel plan evolves during 2017.
If you haven’t come across this brand before, it’s our pleasure to introduce it to you. Corby Tindersticks is the brainchild of illustrator and children’s wear designer Carly Gledhill. We adore the playfulness and character of the illustrated brand identity, which perfectly reflects the style of the products (perhaps unsurprising, as Gladhill is behind both). The feel of the brand is unconventional, quirky and beautifully considered. For us, it sits in its own little space in the market, able to cleverly amble into more commercial areas (such as the recent collaboration with Mamas & Papas), whilst retaining its integrity as a design-led brand for people seeking the unconventional. And as for the name? It’s one of our all time favourites.
Fronted by Jools Oliver in partnership with Mothercare, the Little Bird brand is synonymous with traditional family values. Inspired by 70s fashion and culture, it’s a vintage brand with a modern twist. This is a brand with very clear positioning and a well-defined proposition. It is bright, fun and we love the brand’s unisex philosophy, which harks back to a time when hand-me-downs took no heed of gender. We particularly like the brand’s photography and video content, which beautifully portray the freedom and joy of childhood, with lovely retro references to emphasize the nostalgic qualities of the brand, and take us all back to the hazy days of our own childhood.
We are a bit obsessed with words. And we get a bit cross when brands don’t speak with a consistent tone of voice, or don’t place value on the way they say things. So when we come across brilliantly written brand copy, we tend not to forget it. As well as selling exquisitely crafted and packaged wooden blocks, Uncle Goose does a great job with words too. Take this web copy as an example ‘Uh oh. You lost a block. Or a roving pack of feral St Bernard puppies decided to use a few as chew toys. We won’t judge or scold. We offer replacement blocks for those “just in case” situations’. Brilliant. But they aren’t just nice words for the sake of it. Crucially, the way the brand looks and talks reflects the ethos behind the brand, which is grounded in creativity, playfulness and care. That’s what we like to see.
Jojo Maman Bebe
As consumers, we expect more from brands than ever before. We seek brands that stand for something; that share our values; that make a real connection with our own sense of self. Many companies are responding to this by upping their CSR programmes, while for others, genuine social responsibility is integral to the values at the very heart of the brand. Fundamental to the Jojo Maman Bebe ethos is ‘putting people and the planet above profit’. And the work done by the brand through its own house charity, the Nema Foundation, is a wonderful example of putting values into practice. There are also countless other examples of the brand’s commitment to living and breathing its values, including staff empowerment, ethical manufacturing and initiatives to support the environment. They say on their website ‘this is not a marketing ploy; it’s who we are’. And we believe it.
Where do we start with this brand? Lego is consistently listed as one of the world’s most powerful brands. Why? Because everything the brand does is an embodiment of its core values: Imagination; Creativity; Fun; Learning; Caring; Quality. These values are the first thing Lego employees learn when they join the company, so that every business decision is value-based, from product innovation and the in-store experience, to corporate culture and the food available in the staff canteen. No detail is overlooked. Lego is an example of the power of strategic thinking when it comes to building an authentic, coherent brand proposition. The advert below from 1981 is one of the brand’s most famous (and our all-time favourite), because it’s such a simple and beautiful expression of what the brand is all about. As readers, we feel an emotional connection to the message because we sense the child’s intense pride and we understand immediately the power of the product. More recent adverts, such as those below by Blattner Brunner do an equally brilliant job of communicating the possibilities of the product, which are limited by only one thing – the child’s imagination.
The Microscooter brand has been built in the UK over the last 10 years by entrepreneurial mums Anna Gibson and Philippa Gogarty. The brand quickly gained a reputation for quality, and is regarded by many as one of the leading scooter brands in the UK. Yes, the price-point is high, but loyal customers are happy to pay the difference to join the Microscooter family, and all it represents. This is a brand people trust. The Scooter Aid and Scootsafe initiatives run by Microscooter reinforce the integrity of the brand and the care that’s so crucial to the way the business does things. On top of that, the brand has neatly built an authentic narrative around family, adventure and fun, using social media to share carefully planned content and curate opportunities to engage with customers, through campaigns such as #scootingadventures and #weekdayweekends.
So there we have it; those are our choices. What do they all have in common? Sure, they all look great. But there's a lot more to all of them than a nice-looking logo or a striking campaign. All of them are brands that are built to some extent on a strong foundation of values. And it's those values that build deep and meaningful connections with customers. It's those values that enable us to buy into what the brands stand for, as well as what they sell.
You probably have your own favourites. Perhaps we've missed your most-loved children's brand off our list. We'd love to hear what it is. And we're always keen to hear about new and exciting brands entering the market too. One thing's for sure - there's never going to be a shortage of brands vying to be the next big thing for kids. We can't wait to find out what it is.