Brand says 'cheese'

Date of release: May 2012
Northumberland Cheese Company
caption: Neil Wilson (left) with Mark Robertson

A North East company is bidding to become one of the UK’s leading producers of farmhouse cheeses after redesigning its brand and packaging.

(A Design Network North story: visit the project website

The Northumberland Cheese Company currently sells a range of farmhouse cheeses, accompaniments and hampers and has recently finished a year-long brand development project with Newcastle based company Neil Wilson Design in a drive to boost sales outside the North East.

Stocked in Farm shops and Delicatessens across the Region, the launch of their new website in November 2011, the firm has seen an increase in orders from outside the North East.

Produced using locally sourced single farm milk, the company promotes 16 varieties of cheese all handmade and packaged at the cheese farm on Blagdon Estate, South Northumberland.

Founder and owner Mark Robertson first produced ‘Redesdale’ cheese made from milk from his own flock of sheep and sold to locals. It was such a success that the original range expanded to include fine cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses. He said:
“The growth of the business over the past 25 years primarily reflects the quality of our product and the growing trade in supplying mail order customers outside of the region has prompted us to make a concerted effort to tackle the market in the South of England.

“At the same time it has been an opportunity to reinvigorate the brand and packaging by bringing in some external expertise and we are really excited to be in a strong position to take the brand to the next level.”

The design project was funded by RTC North’s Design Network North (DNN) service, set up to help companies benefit from the intervention of professional design experts.  
Neil Wilson Design(NWD) is an award winning creative led design consultancy based in Newcastle, specialising in brand design and interior design. Neil added:

“Originally my brief was to design packaging for a new cheese that was in development, but when we began the project we saw it as a great opportunity to refresh the brand as a whole.

“The renewed brief was to develop a solution that would help turn the company from an artisan cottage business in to a modern easily recognisable quality food brand – one that would compete as effectively on supermarket shelves as in independent stores or on market stalls.

“We wanted to retain a strong colour element on the packaging to help attract costumers’ attention at the point of purchase, while incorporating materials such as waxed paper and uncoated paper that helped reflect the essence of the brand.”

Today the company is run from a re-furbished 19th Century granary on the Blagdon Estate, where the company marries traditional cheese making craftsmanship with modern best practices. 

Employing 17 people, last year the firm sold over 40,000 kilos of cheese across its range of 16 cheeses including its newest product, ‘Blagdon Blue’.

Run by technology and innovation consultancy, RTC North, Design Network North has helped add over £7m to the North East economy since it was launched in March 2009 and focuses on building better links between the North East design community and industry.

Gordon Ollivere MBE is RTC North CEO, he said:

“The value of bringing good designers and design thinking in to any business can not be underestimated as a significant differentiator for any brand and over the 30 projects that have benefited from help from Design Network North, all have gone on to become stronger businesses.

“I am sure Northumberland Cheese will continue this trend and as a result of Neil’s work be able to make in roads across the country.”

Design Network North is a business collaboration network, part of the Solutions for Business portfolio, and forms part of the Inspire Gateshead Project.

The Inspire Gateshead Project is part financed by the European Unions ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, securing £500,675 ERDF investment through regional development agency One North East. The ERDF Programme is bringing over £300M into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

For more information on Design Network North visit  


Media contacts: Jamie Ollivere at RTC North on 01915164400 or Mob 07950566182

Notes to editor:

1. RTC North: is an independent innovation company committed to helping business and society manage change. Excelling in the areas of technology transfer, business growth and innovation management, RTC North has worked with thousands of organisations since 1989 to create jobs, wealth and a better quality of life for the people of Northern England. Today the company employs over 50 people and has offices in Sunderland, Liverpool and Leeds.

2. Solutions for Business: funded by government is a package of business support products and services to help companies start and grow.  The Government has streamlined the thousands of publicly-funded support products, into the readily identifiable Solutions for Business package to make access easier for business. The Solutions for Business products will help businesses with common problems such as accessing finance, innovation, skills, exporting and resource efficiency.  Products in the Solutions for Business portfolio will be reviewed regularly to make sure they are delivering for business, and added to and replaced as necessary.  Research estimates that the better targeted assistance that the Solutions for Business package provides will add up to £1.4bn per year of value for businesses in England

3. ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13

• The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 for North East England is managed by One North East on behalf of the European Commission, national government and regional partners.

• The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 is focusing on: 

o Innovation – promoting science technology and innovation in businesses and institutions across the region.

o Enterprise and business support – encouraging more people to start up in business, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, and helping established businesses develop, grow and innovate.

• Over £300m ERDF is available for the region from 2007-13. ERDF investment is limited to 50% of total eligible cost and must be matched by other public and private sources. For every pound of ERDF investment, we lever another pound for the key priorities of innovation, enterprise and business support.

• The Programme is underpinned by the three important cross cutting themes of environmental sustainability, equality of opportunity and sustainable communities.

Author: Jamie Ollivere at RTC North

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