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Uncovering brand stories: Wilhelmina Pepermunt

Is there a brand that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside? One that reminds you of home, or your childhood – a brand that is a true national treasure?

When DB London’s Alice visited Amsterdam recently, her first impression of the Wilhelmina Pepermunt brand was one of indifference. But first looks can often be deceiving, and we decided to dig a little deeper into the story of Wilhelmina Pepermunt with the help of Bas from DB Amsterdam, who has a special fondness for this much-loved Dutch brand.

This was originally published on Marketing Tribune.

Discovering a new favourite – Alice Dall, Senior Brand Strategist at DB London
Having spent a few childhood years living in the South of Holland, visiting our Amsterdam Studio is a trip down memory lane (and an opportunity to stock up on old favourites like Stroopwafels from Albert Heijn).

On a recent trip to DB Amsterdam, and after a particularly garlicky working lunch, I was subtly offered a Wilhelmina Pepermunt. They didn’t look like a trustworthy product. In fact, beyond the descriptor ‘Pepermunt’ there were more cues from the world of industrial cleaning chemicals than there were peppermints. The paper felt flimsy, the print reminiscent of the old Tesco Value range, and the rosette and gold crown old-fashioned and unsubstantiated.

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I politely took a mint, turned it over in my fingers and realised that it was possibly the most beautiful piece of confectionery I’d ever seen. It was glossy and perfect, reminiscent of a new pound coin with a de-bossed portrait of Wilhelmina on one face.

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Having accidentally stumbled across a new favourite– I realised that here was a brand full of assumptions and missing opportunities. From the wrapper, the makers assume that you know who Wilhelmina is, her story, and that inside is a surprise akin to the Love Hearts or Kinder Eggs I remember from my childhood.

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A mint of fortune – Bas van Herten, Client Business Director at DB Amsterdam
At face value the Wilhelmina pepermunt you get served with your bill in many Dutch restaurants may easily come across as a low budget piece of confectionery. The packaging appears not very considered, the branding lacks craft and care, and the mint itself – whilst beautiful – is, well, just a mint, right?

Well, appearances may be a bit deceptive. If we take a closer look at some of the equity of this piece of Royal memorabilia there’s a lot of storytelling going on.

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The name links this sweet to the ‘mother of the people’, Queen Wilhelmina, who guided the country through WWII and still remains one of the most popular Royals in Dutch history. Her profile on the Wilhelmina Pepermunt is suitably wrapped in a ribbon carrying the national colours.

The crown is an official seal, highlighting the ‘By Appointment to the Court of the Netherlands’ accreditation. This highest level of appreciation was given to confectioner Willem Hendrik Fortuin when he sent a box of the new mints to the Royal family in 1892 – a gift for the young princess Wilhelmina – an idea that had come to him when he was planning his bakery’s 50th anniversary.

And then there is the mint itself. Perfectly round, shiny and proud. The detail of the embossing is crisp and reminiscent of Dutch coins before the introduction of the Euro.

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So, whilst time has eroded some of the beautiful inspiration behind the brand, smile and appreciate this 124-year old story when you next unwrap your Wilhelmina. And share my love for this icon that (thankfully) is still present in our lives today.

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Find out more: www.wilhelminapepermunt.nl

If there’s a brand close to your heart that you want to share with us – let us know!

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