top of page

How creating a new startup-up alcohol free brand had to be fun.

You may have seen our start-up client DRYNKS Unlimited appear on the latest series of BBC2's Dragons Den where they were successful in gaining backing from Dragon Sara Davies and received great feedback from all the Dragons. But this was only the latest big step for the start-up brand that we have helped create and become such a success.

Creating a brand for a start-up drinks brand

Drynks Unlimited appeared on BBC2's Dragons Den


Way back in 2018 when the client first came to us with the idea of producing a quality brewed, great tasting alcohol free range of drinks, we proposed a bigger thought - the creation of an umbrella brand that would allow an alcohol free portfolio to be developed that could expand and grow to include not only lagers and ciders, but wines, spirits and more, all alcohol free.

This would mean our client wasn't just creating great liquids, they were creating a brand that could compete in a very challenging category and allow them to really own their alcohol free space, becoming the 'go to' brewer of premium quality alcohol free drinks. We needed to do what we do so well, create a brand defining idea that could make this start-up business a successful brand.

Our first step was looking at the current alcohol free category and finding a gap that wasn't being filled by anyone. While there were plenty of new, independent startup alcohol free brands, they were all quite similar following quite traditional alcohol cues across their packaging and their tone of voice, but the brands were also quite restricted to only one or two SKUs - think Big Drop, Lucky Saint, Seedlip to name just a few.

Alongside these new brands there were also the established global brewers, Heineken, Budweiser etc, again following traditional alcohol cues across their packaging and wider comms. Where was the fun! Nothing seemed to stand out, nothing seemed to bridge the gap between alcohol free and adult soft drinks. We proposed something different. Something that made people really think about what they drank, who made it, how it was made, the quality of the ingredients and the brewing process and we really didn't want to be serious and follow any traditional alcohol cues. We wanted to make not drinking an enjoyable and fun experience.


Creating a brand, from scratch to challenge both the consumers and the trades expectations and pre-conceived ideas about alcohol free, in an extremely competitive growth category needed a clear proposition. Without a clear brand defining idea at its core, the brand was likely to go unnoticed by both the trade and consumers. We created the proposition ‘Rethinking Drinking’ that could become the brand’s mantra. From this proposition a clear strategy meant that everything else from packaging design, drinks formats, drink styles, tone of voice would all be as effective as possible to achieve stand-out both on shelf and in the eyes of the consumer. The brands name Drynks Unlimited, a portmanteau (now there’s a fancy new word!) of the words ‘Dry Drinks’, meaning alcohol free, and Unlimited helps communicate the no limits mantra of always producing the very best drinks, however complex the process is.


So we had a clear proposition and an umbrella brand created. Now we could have fun creating a cut-through tone of voice, getting people to really buy into 'Rethinking Drinking' alcohol free can and should be fun. From product messaging through to brand messaging we were able to create a unique tone of voice for Drynks. We worked developed ones such as:



Now we had created the brand defining idea we then started work on the packaging design for Drynks first range of alcohol free drinks called 'Smashed'. This launch range consisted of Smashed Lager, Smashed Berry, Smashed Citrus and Smashed IPA. All brewed using a process called cool distillation, a complex and slow process that makes for a truly great tasting liquid that is a truly 0% alcohol (not 0.5%).

The Smashed range was to launch in both can and bottle formats and across various pack options, from consumer friendly 4 can fridge packs through to trade packs. We knew from developing the brand we needed to make sure we created a look that would have strong cut-through on shelf and didn't follow any traditional alcohol packaging cues. We developed a strong typography approach to the label design for Smashed along with a strong colour palette to help differentiate the range. Both helping bridge the gap between alcohol free and adult set drinks.

Smashed fridge pack


Next, we created a strong suite of advertising assets, social content and photography, all built around the brand defining idea and strategy that we have developed. All this was then gathered together in clear brand guidelines and a brand manifesto. This gave the client all the tools they needed to sell the brand into major mults and to also make sure the brand was effective in getting further investment for growth.

We worked closely with the client to bring on board an experienced food & drinks PR agency and a trusted media agency to make sure the brand was seen by the right people. NorthPR and Media Performance, both specialists and two of Fun Agency's highly experienced partners, quickly achieved nationwide effective coverage in trade and consumer press and across digital channels.

Working alongside NorthPR we then made sure the brand was effectively communicated across various trade and consumer activations for shows such as the Mindful Drinking Festival at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, London and a wonderful festival set up by Club Soda, the leading Mindful Drinking movement.

Drynks Unlimited at Club Sodas Mindful Drinking Festival

Smashed has been extremely well received by the trade and the consumer and consistently coming top in taste reviews. Key influential listings with bars such as London's redemption bars, major multi such as Booth’s Food stores and UK wide distribution through Matthew Clarke have all been achieved in a relatively short timescale. Direct to consumer sales online have also exceeded sales forecasts.

"Smashed really stood out from the crowd for its quality drinking experience, pioneering dealcoholisation process. The no/lo category is really starting to boom and our customers are on the hunt for something new and exciting which we're sure smashed will deliver"

Peter Newton, Beer and Spirits Buyer at Booths Food Stores.

Are you Rethinking Drinking?


Working with a start-up entrepreneur in such a fast paced, growing category meant that we had to react quickly, evolve ideas and be extremely reactionary. We worked extremely closely with our client with clear and honest discussions, and our role developed into an ongoing consultancy role. We brought on board our agency partners in areas such as PR and media buying to support the growth of the brand. Budgets were tight and we had to make sure we delivered the most effective work to extremely tight deadlines. Advising the client to help them understand the importance of selling direct to consumer and developing a shopify e-commerce site in just a few days was in hindsight an incredibly fortuitous move with Coronavirus (unbeknown to everyone) just around the corner!


Having achieved key UK distribution and on and off trade listings, Drynks now has its sights set for the huge opportunities in the American, Canadian and Australian markets. Fun are busy working on NPD (New product development) to expand and grow the Drynks portfolio. Exploring new liquids, naming and developing clear propositions and look and feel for new products.


" Paul & Sarah I must take the opportunity to thank you for your amazing creativity both conceptually & from an implementation perspective during the first 2 years of the Drynks’ company & the Smashed brand life cycle... Fun Agency responded to the brief, you challenged when appropriate you delivered as a good team player when consensus was achieved . The work on the brand book, the packaging & the activation material is there for all to see - world class . These are not my words but those of the buyers at Matthew Clark , Booths & The Restaurant Group. I look forward to continue to work with you & develop the brand’s platform both in the UK , US, Canada & Australia."

Richard Clark, Founder of Drynks Unlimited

Drynks successful appearance on BBC2's Dragons Den

News Coverage here:

We will be sharing a blog about our insights in the growing No/Lo category soon. So watch this space.


bottom of page