Clif Bar - staying true, rediscovering growth


The Challenge

In 1999 Clif Bar Founder Gary Erickson read Eating the Big Fish on the advice of Mars President Bob Gamgort. It helped his little fish grow. In 2013, new Clif CEO, Kevin Cleary, tapped us to help him keep that challenger spirit alive, as CB&C had become the big fish in the $4.5 billion snack bar category.

We would define a vision for growth that was sensitive to the needs of a purpose-driven organisation with strong values. Kevin wanted to re-fresh the way he told this many-layered story, to make it clear which aspects were more relevant than ever in today’s market, and assess the implications to internal practices as well as external behaviours. And he needed his team and the wider organisation to participate in this, to create a collective sense of how CB&C could drive growth in the right way.


The Strategy

We designed a program of top-down and bottom-up ideation to engage nearly a third of CB&C employees in Emeryville HQ. We led workshops with the leadership team at CB&C that re-examined the recent past through a challenger lens, and interrogated the new competitive and cultural dynamics around food and sustainability to identify new opportunities. We replicated this program with employees and identified main areas of overlap and divergence. From there we create a refreshed understanding of the master narrative of the company that helped further define sourcing and sustainability principles going forward, along with a clear food philosophy, and roles for each brand in the portfolio; Clif, Z Bar and Luna. The purpose of CB&C: To feed and inspire the adventure in all of us.


The Results

  • Company-wide roll-out by leadership and founders in 2014.

  • Presented to the world in 2014 All Aspirations Annual Report.

  • In 2015 Clif Bar grew 14.7% year on year.

  • Positive impact on CB&C culture.


eatbigfish’s work is rigorous, creative, and collaborative, and they challenged us in a way that got the best out of both the leadership team and sessions we ran company-wide. The work we did together will be foundational to our on‑going success.
— Kevin Cleary, CEO