Sir Kensington’s: A Case Study in the importance of Branding

I first met Mark and Scott when Sir Kensington’s was in just a few high-end New York restaurants and boutique grocery stores. Since their early days of experimental ketchup parties at Brown University, they and their team have come a long way, capped off with the huge announcement last week that they will be become part of the Unilever family:

There have been several key differentiators in their product and process since it’s inception but one of the key components of their success is the importance that they placed on brand from the very beginning.

When the brand was first constructed, it was around the mystical character of Sir Kensington himself who purportedly travelled the orient in search of superior spices for his secretive ketchup recipe. This also gave Mark and Scott a perfect parallel story to tell of how they set out to make a better product by first understanding its history and then how they could be different.

The first thing we do with any client is try to get to the question of “Why” they’re in business. The “What” and “How” then flow easily and with Sir Kensington’s case the “Why” was because there was a gap in the market for a premium, organic and “fancy” condiment category. Let’s be honest: ketchup (and condiments in general) is a commodity product and so simply making a “better” ketchup would never have been enough to justify the extra cost. In the same way that Apple doesn’t sell computers and phones but instead a lifestyle of thoughtful, beautiful design, Sir Kensington’s had to make it about the experience as well. From that point on full design and branding consideration was applied to any packaging, displays, dispensers and so on to protect the brand and explain why it was different. Even when we were producing an investor deck together, we wanted it to be different from other decks. It needed to show that not only did they understand their market place and opportunity but that they also saw the importance of building a consistent visual and brand story.

A good brand is also a flexible brand

When Sir Kensington’s started to move beyond just ketchup and into other condiments and at a larger scale into more retailers across the country they knew their brand needed to be more consumer friendly. Knowing when to shift a brand is just as difficult as creating it in the first place, but with this shift came a new brand story, a new visualization of that brand, and a consideration for a family of products and experiences.

I couldn’t be more excited to see where the whole Sir Kensington’s team takes the brand from here and am proud to have been a (small) part of their journey so far. I’m also convinced that they will continue to ask “why” they’re in business and continue to shake up a traditionally straitlaced product category.

To learn more about Sir Kensington’s Unilever acquisition, their brand and their products follow them on twitter here:

Want to find your brand’s “Why”? Drop us a line at

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