Drink Maple is making its branding a little simpler.
The Vermont-based maker of maple and watermelon water products is rebranding as Drink Simple, introducing at Natural Products Expo West 2018 a new look for its product portfolio. The products will maintain the same formulation and come in the same 12 oz. bottle, but the new name allows the company to better expand its identity to include non-maple based products.
“The soul of the brand is not based on maple,” co-founder Kate Weiler told BevNET. “[The name change] enables us to move toward a broader platform and creates a brand that stands for who we are.”
Drink Maple launched in 2014 with a single SKU of 100 percent pure organic maple water. Since then, the company has added new flavors including Grapefruit Maple Water, Raspberry Melon Maple Water, and Watermelon Water. According to Weiler, although the original maple water remains the company’s top selling SKU, the new platform will allow the company to further innovate beyond maple-based products, including a potential future food play.
In addition to the name change, the redesigned packaging is meant to simplify messaging, Weiler said, clarifying the product is not syrup.
Initially positioned as an alternative to sports drink, Weiler added that the move also includes a pivot toward encompassing a plant-based hydration message aimed at consumers seeking better-for-you beverage alternatives.
“The growth is in people seeking out better-for-you, not athletes,” she said. “They make the jump over [to maple water] from coconut water due to the sugar content. Or it’s people who are bored with water but don’t want a drink with erythritol or stevia.”
The formal company name will remain DRINKmaple, in part to maintain the norm and reduce confusion with buyers.
The rebrand comes at a time of growth for the company. Last year, Drink Maple brought in $4.35 million in a Series A round led by venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue, with participation from Vermont-based FreshTracks Capital. The company also added a number of retailers including Hannaford, New Seasons, Earthfare, Sprouts, Market Basket, Safeway, Fairway Market, Hyvee, Spartan Nash, and Whole Foods’ Midwest and Florida regions.
Speaking to BevNET, CMO Joel Idelson said while retail sales are performing well, the fastest growth is in ecommerce. The company switched its direct-to-consumer online store over to the Shopify platform, Amazon remains a high-selling retailer, and is seeking other platforms.
As well, the brand has partnered with influencers including Instagram stars and athletes from professional sports teams like the New York Rangers. The company does not pay for influencers, but will partner with those who are true fans of the brand and provide product.
“Every conversation with influencers is the same — if you don’t like it, we can’t talk,” Idelson said.
Though maple water is still developing as a category, according to Weiler, the company is working to build consumer awareness and grow its 85 percent market share. As Drink Simple, the company will launch pop up stores and work form better relationships with stores and consumers via promotions and demos.
“We have a desire to evolve,” Weiler said. “And you want whatever you put out there to grow with you.”