Suja Juice is a brand that gets It. What started out as a somewhat disorganized operation has transformed into an $18 million business in under two years. So, what has led Suja Juice to become a successful brand? Here’s our interpretation of its success, which in our eyes begins with the founding of the company.
Passion for the Product
Co-founders Eric Ethans and Annie Lawless met each other through a shared yoga center in San Diego, California. Annie, who had become accustomed to making homemade juices for nutrition due to celiac disease, noticed Eric with a bottle of his own homemade juice one day at the yoga center. We could say the rest is history, but it wasn’t that simple.
Ethans and Lawless decided to do something with their shared passion for homemade juice and began selling their product to other yoga enthusiasts. This partnership led to a chance encounter with James Brennan, a restaurant and nightclub entrepreneur, whose pregnant wife fell in love with the product. Brennan himself decided to try a ten-day cleanse and it didn’t take long for him to become hooked on the product. With Brennan’s entrepreneurial skills on their side, Ethans and Lawless were opened up to a wide new array of resources. One of those resources happened to be Jeff Church, a local entrepreneur who had previously partnered with Brennan on another project. As a favor to Brennan, Church agreed to meet with Ethans to discuss the business. A January 2014, Forbes article recounts the meeting, saying,
“A self-declared midwestern ‘meat-and-potatoes’ guy, he agreed to meet with Ethans as a mentor but warned he probably wouldn’t like the juice. ‘I tried it, and it just stopped me in my tracks,’ Church recalls.”
While Ethans, Lawless, Brennan and Church may seem like an improbable partnership, the quartet had one thing in common, a passion and belief in the juice they sought to sell.
The team began to explore ways to ramp up the business while still maintaining the authenticity of the cold-pressed juice. They discovered a new way to produce their product through high-pressure processing (HPP), which kills pathogens without heat. HPP allowed the team to bottle their juice and sell it through distributors without the product expiring before it reached consumers.
Bring it to Life Through Branding
The team had found a way to protect the integrity of their product, but they also knew branding was vital to their success. The company needed a solid brand identity to attract distributors as well as consumers.
You might be curious where the name Suja Juice comes from (we were). It’s naming is almost as happenstance as the partnership that spring boarded the business. Ethans met a woman behind a booth at a local health food store whose name was Suja, meaning “long, beautiful life.” The name and meaning behind it stuck with Ethans who brought it to a design firm to create a label and logo for the product.
The brand identity has blossomed and is now consistently applied across all brand touch points, including its labeling, packaging, website, social media pages and advertisements.
Bates Creative Art Director Darryl Sebro commented on the overall identity of Suja Juice, saying,
“As a brand they definitely have the feeling of something that’s very friendly and natural. The large use of the color palette ties into the lifestyle you find in San Diego and the many flavors they offer. While I’m not particularly a huge fan of their font choice ‘Blanch,’ it still works within their brand.”
No Signs of Slowing Down
With its identity, process and distribution capabilities fine-tuned, Suja Juice has seemed to find the perfect recipe for success. The company has quickly exploded and grown to become a force to be reckoned with in the organic juice market.
According to the same Forbes article, “Suja launched in 45 stores in Southern California in the fall of 2012, often selling out within days…The company has launched nationwide with Whole Foods and now produces 250,000 bottles each week for the food retailer, as well as for Kroger and Costco and Safeway. Nearly half of last year’s sales, $7.5 million, came in the last quarter. The company isn’t yet profitable but claims gross margins of 40% to 50%.”
What has made the cold-pressed juice so popular among consumers? It’s clear that the brand’s passion is genuine and comes from a place of good. Some of our own team members have become Suja Juice lovers. One of our employees recounts how she first heard of the brand,
“I saw they were listed on Forbes’ ‘Companies to Watch’ list and had seen their products at Whole Foods, too. The product is super healthy and I’m a sucker for good packaging so I decided to try it out.”
She also shared a story with us about the brand’s customer service that had all of us smiling (and sipping on Suja Juice).
“I bought a Suja Juice from Whole Foods. Upon opening it, it was very obvious that it had spoiled as it burst upon opening and smelled very foul. I wrote them an email recounting this experience. They profusely apologized, both a customer service rep and the CEO. They then sent me about $20 worth of coupons and an entire case of all their flavors of juice. The response I received was more than appropriate, they went above and beyond with the amount of samples they sent.”
Lucky for our team, we had all the flavors of Suja Juice to try out due to the awesome customer service provided by the brand.
It’s evident that the people behind the Suja Juice brand will continue to fight for the integrity of the brand and what it means to them. As it states on their website, “Suja Juice began from a shared dream to help people transform their lives through conscious nutrition.”
At Bates Creative we see the value in a brand that is filled with passion, understands the importance of maintaining brand consistency across all touch points, works toward growth without sacrificing the integrity of its product and strives to reach customers who will become as passionate about the product as its founders. For these reasons we believe Suja Juice is a brand that gets It.
Do you agree or disagree that Suja Juice is a brand that gets It? Let us hear your thoughts by commenting below.