We launch a new weekend series of interviews with entrepreneurs, scientists and interesting individuals who manage their intellectual property with savvy and success. Our aim is to show our readers how this complex task is done in Poland. Presenting examples of people who create, do business, use their intellectual potential and achieve their goals.

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From the company: “Puffins (https://puffins.co/) is the first, one of a kind, light, tasteful and nutritious, low calorie fruit snack. The fruit is puffed – processed through a method called puffing. The end product is unique – with all of the natural nutrients, remains good and crunchy.

Our purpose is creating an alternative to salty, high calorie, fatty snacks available on the market. We multiply flavors and thus culinary possibilities, which gives permanent pleasure of crunching, biting, chewing, gnawing and tasting. We want to show that puffins can make a perfect element of complex dishes – cooked or roasted. Soon puffins will be in every house!”

We spoke to Ms. Katarzyna Barczyk, Puffins CMO

Q 1. The characteristic logo helps to recognize Puffins. How was it created?

Frankly, I joined the company when the idea was more or less clear. We flipped through many designs and most of it seemed more adequate to toys than to our puffed fruit. We chose a puffin because it reminds of the puffing process that we use; it happens to be also a cute bird which “puffs” while landing on the ground. The logo, a combination of a puffin and fruit, was drawn by our friend who is a professional designer. When we saw the design, we knew we had it!

Q 2. So the logo was inspired by the world of animals. It seems that animals are present in your activities (for example, in your blog article about bats or in support for organizations helping pets). Is it a good idea to create a brand with reference to the hobbies of the company’s founders? And why?

It is true that in our activities we try to focus on animals. Recently, we introduced a brand hero – the Puffin (Maskonur) which acts as the central figure of our graphic designs and inspires our actions on social media. As a company, we engage in various health-related activities – running, tournaments, conferences about healthy foods but we do not forget about animals. A bird is used as our logo so we could not forget about his four legged friends.

Q 3. The process of creating a brand – was there a plan for it from the beginning? Was your intention to build the brand in a consistent and detailed manner?

Yet, it was. We had a vision for creating a brand from the very beginning. When I decided to devote all of my working time to the family business, I also saw the need for more knowledge and professional training. I got a degree in something completely different and lacked experience. Thanks to a course organized by Socjomania (a company providing trainings in marketing) – highly recommended! – I learned not only how to behave on social media but also met many people from the industry. It is great network I still benefit from.

Q 4. Were you aware from the beginning of your brand’s power and the need for IP protection? Was the registration of trademark an obvious move or on the contrary – the decision making process was long and turbulent?

Such a decision was made at the beginning. It was agreed from the start that we were going to protect our IP. We knew it was important to register a trademark so that our products are recognized under a unique brand. We did not have to discuss this, it was rather obvious.

Q 5. Would you say that the process of building a brand is a one-off activity? When does it intensify?

It is a never-ending process. Look at, say, Coca-Cola and the small but visible changes to its image and particular products. For me, a brand strategy is – most of all – a principled and honest customer service, as well as social media activities informing the customer about the brand. We are not at the stage of TV ads yet so we maximize our opportunities of the Internet. Are there any problems? I think that, actually, there may be a difficult moment now; many customers have already trusted us, we try not to spoil that trust and provide the extra healthy product that will not let them down. We made a promise and now it is our duty to keep it!

Q 6. What – in your opinion – are the most important elements of a brand identity? Which elements would you recommend to invest in from the beginning?

The most important element is the packaging. It will make the customer notice the product, facilitate the first communication and explain what is inside. An operative and friendly website is very important to let the customer find out more. To get closer to our customers, we have been counting on free tasting – it is great way to learn if the product tastes good and how we can improve it.

Q 7. Would you say it is a good idea to think early about entering foreign markets? Is it difficult for a Polish family business to export?

We planned on going into foreign markets from the beginning. When we launched sales in 2012, we knew that we would find customers outside Poland. Here, the heathy food industry was still at an early stage. It is a laborious – but also rewarding – task to acquire a customer abroad. A way of doing it is participating in food fairs, showing your product and growing your network. It will not always work straight away but positive surprises do happen. I must admit that if not for the EU funding such as “Measure 6.1 Passport to Export” organized by PARP (the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development), our reach to foreign customers would have been much weaker. It makes sense to sign up for the PARP newsletter to be kept up to date with opportunities, be able to actively participate in the Enterprise Europe Network meetings. The Network acts within the framework of the European Commission with the aim of building relationships between European businesses and organizing B2B meetings.

Q 8. What advice would you give young entrepreneurs who dream about their own business?

We were lucky, we had our family support for the project and we did not have to look for an investor. Very often I see how even the best ideas do not get through the first difficult months, not having the financial backup. I would recommend finding an investor, convincing someone with sufficient funds at their disposal by showing them your product. I also recommend EU funding, start-up loans; it is also essential to have an experienced accountant and advisor who knows how to prepare the reports. It is a good idea to consult experienced professionals in these areas. Although after some time, most of these activities can be done without help. The most important things are patience and determination – one can be sure that there will be mistakes, mishaps and difficult moments because that is the way it goes in every industry! We are also walking that way… and we keep smiling!

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photo: Mateusz Antkowiak Wizaż-online