Earlier this year there was uproar about a change of ingredients in a certain brand of egg-shaped fondant filled confectionery. The recipe has delighted consumers for decades, but the manufacturers committed the heinous crime of tampering with a great British classic.
It is not the first time that meddling with a successful brand has backfired. Sometimes it is better to leave what already works well alone.
Decadent Vapours (DV) are pioneers in the UK e-liquid industry and have a world-wide customer base. They are renowned for their excellent flavours, with a reputation for ingredient quality and impeccable manufacturing standards.
In 2014, the mixing maestros at DV were eager to push the boundaries of flavours even further.
But rather than tinker with what they know already works, if they want a new flavour they develop it from scratch.
In the case of ‘djinni’, released in Spring 2015 after over a year of development, it wasn’t just one new flavour they invented but a whole new range of ten tantalisingly new tastes all matched with a distinctive new and separate brand.
Head mixologist Luke explains, “We wanted to create a broad range of flavours: some that you wouldn’t find elsewhere or hadn’t been perfected – Turkish Delight for instance – all different and with their own personality.”
To begin with, over 100 flavours suggestions were drawn from DV’s entire workforce, most of whom are themselves vapers. This was then reduced to a short list of 18, then painstakingly whittled down to 10.
As DV make all their flavours at their Swansea HQ, this process is a common occurrence, but they had never set out to develop 10 totally new flavours that were to be launched all at the same time.
So firstly, they search far and wide for the perfect raw ingredients, testing hundreds if necessary, to create the right flavour profile. Only then does the mixing begin.
It isn’t just taste that matters. “Our wholesalers and other customers have to be sure about the provenance of their products,” says MD Archie Powell. “We don’t make anything that we don’t vape ourselves. Everything we make has been tested and passed by external bodies and in accordance with EU regulations, and our certification is publicly available on our website.”
Flavour prototypes are created, tested, altered and refined – over and over. Internal and external testing is done. Tweaks are made, then testers are sent to e-liquid reviewers – a passionate bunch, and not easy to impress. After any further necessary tweaks, the flavours are given a final testing… and then they’re ready.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But to get it right can take many months. “Several times we were close to a final flavour, but couldn’t quite get it perfect, no matter how we tried, so it was back to the drawing board,” says Luke.
One experiment turned out not quite as some had expected. The flavour team had just returned from a trip to Iceland and challenged Luke to replicate the flavour of Hákarl, a ‘delicacy’ first devised by the Vikings – from rotting shark meat. Archie was a willing guinea pig for the new flavour. “I took a long satisfied draw… and then apparently turned green while the rest of the lab roared with laughter. It was the most disgusting flavour I have ever vaped.” Luke had replicated Hákarl’s flavour with horrifying exactness. “It’s an acquired taste,” he admits.
While flavour refining for the new range continued, work on the brand itself began. For this, DV brought in Create-a-Brand, experts who have created many national and international brands, and who had recently re-branded DV’s main brand.
“It was decided they needed another ‘younger’ brand that would complement their main one but be distinctive,” says Louise, head of Strategy at Create-a-Brand.
“For the name, we were looking for something simple, memorable and relevant. Following much research and testing of names, we came up with ‘djinni’, the thought being that it’s like the genie out of the bottle, a vapour that will grant you your flavour wishes.”
The logo followed. “We wanted to keep it simple and modern but striking, and especially versatile – it had to be adaptable for each individual flavour.” Meticulous research and consideration went into devising the flavour names, copy and package design. “The challenge was to try to encapsulate the essence of each individual flavour, while at the same time establishing an ‘umbrella’ tone for the djinni range as a whole.” To complement the packaging, Create-a-Brand produced bold and clever adverts and POS material for retailers.
Djinni arrived in Spring 2015, unleashing flavours such as Turkish Delight, Banoffee, Zingo, New York 60 and Jelloopy. It has quickly established itself as one of the hippest ranges on the e-liquid market, delighting customers old and new.
Connoisseurs of Viking cuisine may have been disappointed, though. Sadly, but understandably, ‘Hákarl’ didn’t make it onto the Djinni menu…