What if...tinned fish was positioned as a luxury product, yet sold at an affordable price?
That's what the US, DTC-brand Fishwife has attempted to answer, and by the looks of it - they've created something that really stands out.
In an article about the brand in Vogue - the writer goes into the specifics of the initial idea for the business.
One day in May, it occurred to them (the founders) there was a gap in the American market for affordable, sustainably-caught, and well-branded tinned fish.
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So they called around to find great fish and then hired the services of a good graphic designer to craft the look-and-feel of the visual identity.
The result is a brand that really catches the eye and understandably appeals to a market that perhaps before would have overlooked eating tinned seafood on a toasted brioche.
What they are selling however...is not fish in a tin.
They're actually offering customers is something remarkable (a word that's so overused that it has sadly largely lost its meaning).
It is worthy of a remark to have canned fish packaged in a beautiful tin.
It is worthy of a remark to specifically offer fish, which is said to be sustainably caught.
It is worthy of a remark that the brand relies so heavily on great design and promotional tactics that are constantly changing and evolving.
How is Fishwife funded?
Building a brand like Fishwife takes a strong strategic vision....and money.
As far as money goes; according to Crunchbase the business has had three pre-seed funding rounds over three years and took undisclosed investments from three different funders; Redbird, Rose Street and Everywhere.
There wouldn't be massive amounts of money going into Fishwife, but enough to get them to a place where they can afford to spend money on building their brand ecosystem.
The mistake that a lot of venture-builders make
This case study is worthy of note, because it highlights a mistake that a lot of startups and venture-builders tend to make; not spending enough time, money and effort on strategically building their brand.
Founders are not necessarily natural strategists or marketers and what tends to happen with startups is that they focus a lot on the technical aspects of the product and the value chain upfront, and neglect how they intend to land the business in the minds of the marketplace.
Doing this work retroactively then becomes very expensive because by the time proper strategy is brought in - a lot of old habits and thinking are already doggedly entrenched in the business, which then needs to be adjusted over time.
Often the 'old thinking' never really gets refreshed (stubborn minds are hellava difficult things to change) and the business ends up going nowhere.
Taking the huge risk to create a venture from scratch and then achieving nominal growth as a result, is a huge fail. Ventures need to be structured and built to outperform, not tick along - otherwise what's the point?
Ideally, strategy leads.
It is the playbook on which great brands and ventures are built; as is the case with Fishwife.