Heaps Normal: Raising the bar for beer and brand

18.8.2022
Written with:
Tim Snape
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We want as much from our parties as ever, but less of us want the painful hangover that often hangs around after these events (been there). We won’t compromise on experience, and we certainly won’t compromise on taste with Heaps Normal, the brand that’s setting the benchmark for non-alcoholic beer that tastes like, well, the alcoholic variety. Except better, we reckon!

A brand that breaks through the crowd, and is always ready to party

We sat down with Tim Snape, Marketing Director at Heaps Normal, to talk all things brand. From finding the most outrageous 90s Jetski for a campaign, to organising Heaps Normal’s first techno rave, Tim answered our burning questions on building a brand that’s got everyone watching. He also shares some learnings along the way and the advice he has for up and coming marketers who are aspiring to land a role that’s just as coveted as his. 

How would you describe the Heaps Normal brand? 

It's difficult to describe any brand without rattling off a bunch of adjectives, and the Heaps Normal brand is certainly more than that. We're that friend who still parties with the best of them, but is trying to balance that out with a healthy head in the morning. We love music, we love art and sports and maybe we even have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak as well (without talking about it constantly). We're inclusive, diverse and open-minded - and believe in taking care of ourselves, each other and the planet. Overall we like to be a fun brand to be around, one that doesn't take itself too seriously and isn't afraid to take the mickey out of ourselves. 

Heaps Normal beer cans

Why is brand important in FMCG? 

It's probably the most important thing in FMCG. In a market dominated by ever-expanding choice, consumers are not only looking for products that function and taste how they want, but that reflect their own personal brands and values. We're increasingly making decisions on what we purchase based on what those companies stand for, who they stand with, who is already consuming them and what associations and personalities they possess. Brand is the glue that binds all of this together. 

Check out how FMCG brand All Good is measuring their marketing activity on Tracksuit to shift the dial on key brand health metrics.

How have you helped grow the brand? 

As a team, we've focused our efforts over the past 6 to 12 months on continuing to expand the Heaps Normal brand beyond being one of the best tasting non-alcoholic beer products in Australia and into a complete lifestyle offering. One that defines what mindful drinking means to our audiences, driven by our vision to evolve Australian drinking culture. That means we've focused more on creating content and experiences that bring the personality of our brand to life and that provide colour to what it means to be Heaps Normal – like our Dennis short film and our first Heaps Normal Presents party – a full blown techno rave. 

Man pouring Heaps Normal beer into a glass

What's your approach to marketing and striking the balance between the long and short? 

There's no magic formula to striking the balance between the short and long term. It should all come back to what your objectives are as an organisation and how you marry that to what your audience wants. Be where your customers are. It could be Instagram or TikTok, or it could be Accountants Quarterly Magazine. The most important thing is that your selection of channels and the messages you communicate on them are customer led. 

In terms of priority, it should all come back to your vision and strategy. Use your strategy as the litmus test for – and way of prioritising – any new idea, project, campaign and initiative. 

Tracking Heaps Normal’s journey into the minds and hearts of Australasians 

Why is brand tracking a priority for you? And what are the top 2 to 3 reasons you use/are planning to use Tracksuit? 

Brand health metrics are some of the most important long-term indicators of success in marketing. There are so many ways to measure the success of digital and performance marketing, but without looking at longer-term brand metrics you run the risk of being driven entirely by short-term outcomes. These short-term outcomes tend to ignore the equity and value you're creating over longer horizons. 

We primarily use the core brand funnel metrics that Tracksuit offers. Given that we're a startup in an emerging industry, having insight into not only where we're sitting in the category, but how our awareness, consideration, preference and usage (which we use as a proxy for market share) are tracking over time, is incredibly useful to understanding in setting our strategies and objectives.

The highs, the wins and the learnings

As a well-respected marketer, can you share the hardest lesson you’ve learnt and what you took away from it?

One of my biggest failures was when I was at Sydney Opera House and invested a considerable amount of time and effort investing in a new technology that was quite hyped at the time in the marketing sphere only to realise, once it was launched, that we'd probably gone a bit (at least a couple of years) too early. My learning from that is that you should never be driven by what anyone else is doing, and least of all by hype. Let brands with deep pockets test new technologies before they reach market saturation. 

What’s your favourite Heaps Normal campaign you've pulled off?

It would have to be our Do Your Best Dry July campaign this year. Trawling through Gumtree, looking for the wildest 90s Jetski that I could find felt like a rare point in my career where I was working in a business that I truly felt connected to. Given that I try to not take myself too seriously, working with a brand that doesn't either is incredibly liberating, and just plain fun, as well. 

Do you have a piece of advice for marketers gunning for a unique, coveted marketing role like Marketing Director at Heaps Normal? 

In my career I've jumped from a bank to a not-for-profit, to a government agency, then a huge private property company, and now a startup. The key to getting good at anything is experiencing as much as possible and not being pulled into the trap of staying in your comfort zone.

And finally, do you have any podcasts/websites/books that help you stay at the forefront of business and marketing? 

I'm a sucker for a good newsletter. My holy trifecta for daily morning reading is The Hustle, Morning Brew and Refind. As for podcasts, it's gotta be our mates at Funny Business. 

We’d like to thank Tim Snape and Heaps Normal for chatting to us, and for allowing us to play a supporting role in their brand’s growth.

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