How Molson Coors and BrandOpus Have Grown a Relationship of Trust

A GDUSA Interview

Caroline Winnington is Business Director, BrandOpus and Stewart Yepes is Marketing Lead on Value/Canada Brands & Marketing Operations, Molson Coors


GDUSA: Molson Coors Beverage Company has been working with BrandOpus for many years. How have you been able to grow your relationship into a place of trust?

Caroline Winnington: Communication is so important in the success of our partnerships. Through various successful project deliveries and launches, we have developed a level of respect and understanding for how we approach obstacles and opportunities together. We challenge each other on briefs and ensure we talk regularly about the end goal and what success looks like. We both keep this vision in mind and that is what enables us to create really meaningful work that has an impact in the world.

Stewart Yepes: It’s rooted in the commitment to deep dive and invest the time and effort into building a healthy and authentic relationship with the broader team. This means holding each other accountable and keeping the Brand purpose, our consumers and consumer behaviour as the source of truth. With this unified approach, knowing we share the same objectives, and a track record of the meaningful and impact work, the trust naturally flows.

GDUSA: What lessons did you learn from the process? Did you face any hurdles along the way? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Stewart Yepes: It takes a while to get to this place, and we built this relationship and trust with time. It was and still is important to challenge each other’s thinking vs being at a place where we blindly trust each other, as there will always be blind spots for different reasons. Healthy conversation is always important and we need to challenge each other to deliver better outputs.

Caroline Winnington: We’ve learnt that together, we can deliver fantastic and meaningful work for the consumers. But we have to scrutinize and challenge ourselves on aspects of the briefs as we receive them. We recognize that we can sometimes have differing opinions on projects, but the key is talking these through as soon as we see them. Jumping on quick calls or spending time face-to-face, working from the Molson Coors offices in Toronto, has been integral to growing our relationship and helping ensure we’re on the same page as projects evolve.

GDUSA: You have introduced many new-to-world brands over your time working together. How do you move from the ideation stage to creative execution?

Stewart Yepes: Well thought out ideas are rooted in rich insights, and these nuggets spark excitement and believability, which then leads to disruptive proposal built as ONE team. With this foundation in place and a business case assessment to validate, we are off to the races. The creative process follows the same formula for the most part, however each journey is unique and it’s something that can’t be rushed. We need to leave enough space to fully digest and come at it from different angles, we also need to be careful not to grow too attached to any one element, as there are domino effects to tweaks and pivots. Although the shift can be on one part, we need to ensure cohesively it all works and, if not, then more pivots can be required; this is the art portion of design and execution.

Caroline Winnington: We’ve learnt that to really get under the skin of the brand, we have to dive deep into the immersion phase of a project. By visiting the homes of the brands and speaking with the brand teams who live and breathe the brand each day, we’re able to really understand each brand we work on. From this we can form solid foundations for our creative briefs that go into the studio. We all get excited when we see the first ideas start to come to life from a strong and exciting brief!

We’ve seen the success of this play out in our recent re-design of Granville Island last year. The team spent a few days at Granville Island, in British Colombia. These learnings really gave us the richness to create a bold and dynamic brand identity that reflects Granville and the surrounding area.

GDUSA: Maintaining a strong brand is crucial to stay afloat in a changeable marketplace. How has the work resulting from your partnership had direct, positive impact across your brands?

Stewart Yepes: Our collaboration into the strategy, design and execution has been instrumental to building on the key memory structure to the category and the brand. This means we agree upon the mandatory consistency and DNA of our Brands, to know where to re-evolve, where to build new or where to remove an element. The net outcome is to continue to fuel brand building, consistency and keeping the memory structure associated to our Brand in a healthy state. This means we keep adding chapters to our storytelling and brand and it’s a natural evolution to what our consumers expect from us, and at times it a reminder of our past, to rekindle why they choose us in the first place. Additionally, it needs to resonate beyond our base, so that we can give others new reason to think of us and hang with us.

Caroline Winnington: With each project we work on with Molson Canada, we always want to deliver a connected and meaningful brand world, creating distinctive assets that can be used across the full brand eco-system. When we’re able to deliver this, we see the standout and cohesion of the brand really come to life in market. Consumers interact with brands in such a fragmented way nowadays, going way beyond the shelf and packaging. So, ensuring the brand shows up with consistency is vital to having a lasting impact with consumers.