Zevia CEO gives “up edgy and cool to be timeless and iconic”

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Ryan Daily
Image Credit: Ryan Daily

Related tags Zevia Stevia Clean label

Consistent branding and values can create a stronger business over time compared to chasing trends or copying the competition, which can dilute a brand's long-term impact, according to Zevia CEO Amy Taylor.

“Starting out with something that is truly differentiated from competition takes years of thought and testing and discipline and confidence, and if you have to delay your launch to get it right, I cheerlead you all the way to be brave enough to do that and to line up funding ... that understands the importance of distinction and differentiation from competition," Taylor said at BevNET Live last week.

From Red Bull to Zevia: How to create distinct brands

Taylor spent nearly 20 years helping Red Bull become one of the market leaders in the energy drink category, which it achieved by providing a consistent brand identity throughout the years and not bending to the pressure of retailers or the competition.

“There's nothing like the power of repetition over time,” Taylor said. “I took a lot of heat from my much younger cooler team when I was in this role for being consistent and not as edgy and cool. We gave up edgy and cool to be timeless and iconic. It's very hard. It takes a lot of discipline, especially when everyone else around you is younger and cooler.”

Red Bull faced competition from companies like Monster, which propelled the shift to the 16oz. can, Taylor noted. Despite the new category challenges, Red Bull maintained its position by focusing on what made it iconic and stood its ground with its branding and messaging, she added. 

Sticking to branding and logos over time can create an iconic brand, but brands sometimes need to rebrand and refocus to achieve that timeless look and feel, Taylor acknowledged. When Taylor moved to Zevia, she rolled out a new logo design and branding that was “more modern and premium but accessible” compared to the original, which was able to deliver on that timeless and iconic look, she shared in an article about the rebrand​.

“When I took the seat and said, ‘Hey, we've got to stand for something that's only and distinctly Zevia, that can be iconic, that can be timeless, that's the goal.’ So, we moved to a totally different design, and we think it has a much stronger on-shelf look and feel... Then, we're starting with a small, scrappy little budget to bring the brand to life with that consistent voice.” 

Finding opportunities, staying focused on clean-label energy, tea

In addition to the rebrand, Zevia has expanded into the energy and tea set, two categories where it believes it can win, she added.

“We see a surging opportunity in clean energy... If we stay the course and stand for clean ingredients, this is a space we believe that we can win,” Taylor said. “Then, there's a key opportunity for us with flavored zero-sugar tea with clean ingredients as well.”

In both categories, Zevia is focusing on fewer and more "well supported, stronger performance SKUs," finding opportunities to innovate with clean-label ingredients like stevia, Taylor said. Instead of looking at new flavors as an opportunity to gain retail space, Zevia is focusing on consumer demands and creating products to solve their problems, she added. 

"Each product that we introduced has performed better than the last and driven more growth than the last. Every product is tasting better, as we learn ... how to use the stevia plant," Taylor said. "Was the mission always to remove metric tons of sugar out of the diets of the communities that Zevia can serve? Not necessarily, but the mission was to make a clean product with no sugar, that was the first step."

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