Smokey Joe case study

We’ve asked Joe and Nicola Knight, the founders of The Smokey Joe Sauce Company, to talk about what it is like working with us.

Who is The Smokey Joe Sauce Company?

The Smokey Joe Sauce Company grew from a passion for Caribbean food. What started as a bit of hobby grew into a ‘real’ business when Joe and Nicola realized there was a market for their authentic Caribbean cooking sauces. “We wanted to recreate the tastes and flavours we’d discovered on our travels around the Caribbean,” says Joe. “After about 18 months we realized it could be more than just a hobby, so we decided to take the next step.” We started working with them in 2011.

Why choose Alder and Alder?

“I came along to one of your seminars,” says Nicola. “It said it was for ‘ambitious businesses’, which sounded like us! It was perfect timing, because we knew we needed more experience to take the next step.”

“We liked the fact that you are like us; a husband and wife team,” Nicola continues. “We felt you would understand us. But when we looked at your website you had big clients, as well as small ones like us. That gave us confidence.” But there was more, says Nicola. “At the first meeting, the questions you asked us made us feel really envigorated. It made us think, ‘Yeah, we run a business that’s fun and a bit different.’

What did you need?

“When we started the project the questionnaire you gave us was really useful,” says Nicola. “We had all the answers, but that process gave us focus. It helped us to understand that we did know where we wanted to go. We felt you knew where we were going, but you were good at getting it out of us. It was reassuring. You had a clear understanding of what we wanted to get. That’s what it felt like.

“We wanted to get into bigger shops; shops that would make bigger orders. But we knew our packaging wasn’t good enough. Our products wouldn’t look right on those shelves. We knew that if we wanted to be in the bigger shops we needed to look the part.”

What did we do?

We work on a new brand development for The Smokey Joe Sauce Company, that is built around the Caribbean roots of the company. At the heart of the brand is the packaging. Each sauce has it’s own personality, capturing the authentic flavour of a specific Caribbean island. We wanted the packaging to reflect that individuality, so every label is different, but there’s a distinctive style to the brand. We wanted to create a style that has the flexibility to grow, as knew products are added.

“Having a clear brief for the project was really useful,” says Nicola. “I referred to it as we were working, to make sure we were sticking to the process and what was agreed. The design we chose had the quirkiness we wanted. And you’d got the balance between our logo, the product name and the island where it came from. We wanted that… but I don’t think we’d really articulated it.”

The visual identity has been applied to The Smokey Joe Sauce Company stand that they take to festivals and markets and their website (, as well as the packaging.

Does it work?

“The rebranding process has definitely made a difference to the business,” says Joe. “There were other changes we made within the business too, but changing the way we look, through the packaging has made a big difference. We’re confident to phone anyone now, so it’s creating lots of new opportunities with retailers. Simple things like having a barcode on our packaging now means we can get stocked by larger retailers, which is a great step up for us. But our online sales have improved too, with a big increase at Christmas. The new brand is creating more opportunities for the catering side of the business too, at events and festivals, which is another route to raising our profile.” Joe sums it all up like this. “Rebranding has given the company a personality, which it’s always had, but we struggled to get across. Now people can see it. We stand out.”