How to pretend you’re on trend!

Today I’m at Hanbury Hall, just off the famous Brick Lane in East London, because Bluebird was selected to be a part of London’s first Pop Up Department Store.

Pop Up Department Store

London's first pop up department store

Christmas Gift Box

To be honest it’s all very trendy. The people here are all way more trendy than I’ll ever be… probably because I keep using the word ‘trendy’. But surprisingly and completely accidentally, while I may not be ‘street’ or ‘cool’ it would seem that Bluebird apparently is!

Mike + Krisi at StartUpDay

On Wednesday we were showcasing as part of Start Up Day outside the British Library where we were interviewed a lot and got to chat to Sahar the founder of Coffee Republic (who loved our Gingerbread Chai!).

The Glam Collective at Becca BoutiqueThen later that evening we were catering for The Glam Collective at the beautiful Becca Boutique in South Kensington. (OK I admit I hadn’t actually heard of Becca, but I was told by my very good, fashion obsessed, journalist friend that this was a BIG DEAL! She also offered to swap places!)

It’s like having a slightly famous or completely beautiful friend- Bluebird gets us invited to places we would never normally be allowed, meeting people who normally don’t mix with us everyday Joes off the street.

Start Up Day at the British Library

Mike at StartUp Day

What forgotten shelves? :s

I like to think I am blending in well so far at Hanbury Hall. I may have forgotten the shelves to the display unit, but I feel no one will notice after my genius camouflage attempt. (see right!)

And I may be wearing my big woolly bobble hat from hot dog day, but the painfully cool clothing designer next to me has a similar one on, so I must be doing something right. In fact, he just nodded at me in a ‘hey you’re rocking wool wear too, aren’t we ironic?’ look.

Bluebird’s image really does get a lot of attention. I’ve been doing a bit of writing for Startacus– the self start society- and they asked me to write a piece on ‘reinventing a product for a new audience’ because they were so impressed by our innovative branding.

Bluebird Cup

Until they said it, I hadn’t really thought about it like that. We did set out to do something totally innovative with tea and to show everyone, tea lover or not, that it is such a versatile  yummy little drink. Luckily we appear to have achieved it too, but we didn’t really sit down and plan a strategy for ‘reinventing a product for a new audience’.

Like always with the power of hindsight and a bit of blagging I managed to write something I hope was useful.

My 5 top tips in the article were:

1. Have a top quality product at your foundation

Sounds obvious but if you don’t spend the time and money getting your product to be the very best it can be then it won’t stand up against others. We anticipated the ‘I can get a 50p tea from Maccys why would I buy yours for so much more?’  You must be ready to answer these questions and your product must back up your claims.

2. Make sure what is unique and special about your product is clear to the customer

This is why we have big chunks of chocolate and slices of fruit in our teas and why we show them off with windowed packaging. It is obvious that there is something very special about our tea from just looking at it. Getting a packaging solution that was airtight, resealable and with a window was a pain and expensive but we knew we needed to do it so we did.

The development of Bluebird Tea Co.’s packaging: 


First attemptTesting pouches for size and feelLabel no.1

First front label

Final design - with Christmas spruce!

3. Find out what problems your customer has with products in your industry and solve them with yours

The first reason a customer buys something is because the product solves a problem for them. This reason comes above ‘want’ and ‘need’ buying but not many people realise this. One of the common problems we identified with tea was that fruit teas smell good but all taste the same- like dishwater. So we made sure our fruit teas look amazing with massive chunks of fruit and more importantly that the taste lives up to the smell.

Christmas Cake

Hot Mama Jama

Vicky's Sponge Cake

4. Identify an occasion where your product meets your customer and get out there to create that occasion

For self starters, with little or no marketing budget, you have to use creative and personal approaches to get your product into the hands of your target audience. We’ve been popping up all over the place, in all sorts of environments, at every type of event you can think of… giving out free stuff also really helps!

Sampling free stuff

Fresh Real Iced Tea

FruiTEAs + Smooches

5. Be creative and courageous with your product’s image and your brand

It’s really important that you are projecting the innovative aspects of your product, and business, through your brand.

Bluebird Stamps

First delivery

Christmas Promo Prints

Being the creative half of the Bluebird team, I have put together our brand image and done all of the designing for the website, the packaging and our promo stuff.  I do mention it quite a bit, especially during interviews or at these start up days, partly because I am really proud of myself but also because it just proves that you don’t have to have a huge budget or employ a design team to create a successful brand.

I knew I wanted our logo to embody our Bluebird philosophy, draw from the important heritage of tea and be modern at the same time. So I drew up the Bluebird and scanned it in, used a free design programme (Inkscape and Paint.NET do me just fine there is no need to pay for creative suite!) and took a photo of some wooden panels. I then chose a font that fitted with the stamp/stencil theme and used the vibrant Bluebird blue and orange like the beautiful bird.

The development of the Bluebird logo: 

First sketch of the logo idea

Second sketch - developing ideas


Bluebird drawing

Bluebird bird vector

Bluebird Logo

Final Logo

The result mirrors the stamps on the traditional tea chests but is simple and modern at the same time.  All the bags are also natural and recyclable kraft and hand stamped. The logo took 10 minutes and the rest is just attention to detail- please don’t pay a design company thousands for this! If you’re not creative ask a friend to help!

Lastly, I choose creative and fun names for the teas like Monkey Chops and Retro Ted, that catch attention and shows off how fun and innovative our brand and our teas are.  The names draw customers in and the stories tell them a bit more about the teas, it’s all about creating a personality for your product that attracts the customer.

Raspberry Beret

I admit I am lucky to be quite a creative person but I am completely computer illiterate and have never done any courses or qualifications in design or graphics or whatever. I just taught myself with books and You Tube!

Website v.1

For the website I use an ecommerce platform and customised the css, most of which I taught myself by just playing around and using w3schools as a resource. I also ask friends to proof read and test functionality for me which is so useful. (Shout out – you know who you are!)

For the printed stuff we just contacted a few printers and asked them what we needed to do. We were so impressed with the people who did our banners that we asked them to do our labels too so they got in some special paper for us which was great. They have helped us loads with how to format things, bleed lines and ratios and all sorts of other complicated things that I always do wrong! Print day is always a manic time of emails and attachments being pinged back and forth with amendments!

First delivery of Bluebird Cups

Bluebird Cup

Last thing I have to say is don’t be afraid to just ask people questions or for advice. You will be surprised to find how willing and helpful people will be!

Hope you are all having a Bluebird weekend!

Love + Tea




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