Simple steps to improve your brand for the year ahead
Even the most successful businesses are always trying to up their game but, given the year we’ve all had, there hasn’t been much time for reflection. FFD sought out both experts and businesses that have recently overhauled their own brands, to get some advice on the areas that producers can improve in.
Food communications consultant & co-founder of SIZL Spices
Food producers often invest in developing their brand’s look and feel, and they create beautiful images and videos to showcase it. The bit that falls by the wayside is the storytelling to support the brand and make a connection with consumers.
Who are you? What are you passionate about? What problem do you solve? What are your struggles or bits of inspiration? These are all important elements of your narrative that help set you apart from your peers.
My advice to any producer would be to develop the story that brings the brand to life and stick to it when you communicate with customers. That’s how you get positioning in their minds, i.e. they remember you for something. And that, in turn, builds repeat purchase and brand loyalty.
Build a brand for your target consumer rather than building a brand that you like. Whether you personally like it is sort of irrelevant, it’s about the customer you’re trying to target. Start with the end consumer in mind, and work backwards, rather than from what you like as a founder and working forward.
We were always trying to be an ethical alternative to everyday foods – we didn’t want to be overtly vegan. That was important when it came to designing our packaging and our branding.
We wanted to appeal to anyone who cared about what they ate from an environmental and animal-welfare perspective – everyday people, who care about authenticity.
Initially, we had an agency do our branding and it ended up being very stylised and very ‘cool’, and it just wasn’t us. So, we brought the branding in-house and decided to be accessible, authentic and use everyday language – they were the core ideas that we wanted to convey.
Food entrepreneur and co-founder of Bread & Jam Festival
Buyers love a great brand story and an awesome product because, more often than not, they are food lovers. But at the end of the day, brand owners need to think much, much deeper than that. They need to get inside the buyer’s head, and they need to see the store shelves and categories from their perspective. They need to work out the ‘problem’ that the buyer has – where there’s a gap is in their range or a customer not being catered to – and how is their product is going to ‘solve’ it.
As a producer, if that means tweaking your product or your messaging then that is what you need to do – whether it’s the packaging, size, nutritional claim or price point. But beware, there is a balance here. While you must be willing to adapt to appeal to the buyer, you also have to understand what your red lines are (whether it’s sustainable packaging or maybe an ‘all-natural’ claim) and make sure that any changes you make are going to be worth it financially and not just for a vanity listing.
Founder, Gattertop Drinks Co.
We decided to rebrand [Gattertop has recently rebranded from Damson Tree] because, to date, we hadn’t really told our story or done the brand justice.
The products are made on an ancient farm in Herefordshire called Gattertop and for years it’s been this haven where we’ve sourced the fruit and made the drinks, but we realised we have this amazing story that we had to tell. On top of that, we had expanded from the original damson vodka so wanted our brand to reflect that.
We went back to the orchard and historical nature of the farm and then pushed the boundaries in terms of the brand. We have heritage, but we wanted to be pioneering as well – we didn’t want to do something safe, generic and on-trend. We decided to do something a little bit disruptive, and that’s reflected in the shape of the bottle, the label and the design.
We looked at the sort of beautiful botanical imagery, which is popular, but we wanted something with more longevity. You can see that in the circular elements that we’ve created, reflecting the changing seasons on the farm and the time put into the products.
Chief marketing officer, Small Giants
Small Giants is a rebrand of Crické which was launched in the UK in 2019 to disrupt the EU’s healthy snacks market with insect-based products.
In 2020, we decided to revamp the brand with a new identity to open consumers’ minds to the benefits of bugs with fantastic new flavours. So, wanting to smash a very stubborn taboo, the only way for us was to go bold!
The new brand needed to be both visually and verbally striking to make people sit up and listen. By creating some giant cricket-based characters entirely covering the front of the pack, it’s very difficult not to grab people’s attention.
We wanted to make the weird wonderful and the brand had to communicate exactly this: something quirky could also be amazing.
Product-wise, we had a completely different approach, we want people to be reassured by the familiar shape, texture and taste of our snacks.
We think the only way to tackle the ‘yuck factor’ is by giving edible insects a familiar form that can help anyone to try them a first time and understand that they are very tasty and extremely nutritious.
Strategy Director, Smith &+ Village
Shelf impact for fine food and drink has always been about delivering the delicious anticipation of high quality, good taste and high enjoyment.
In store, you have a close physical relationship with the product and all those cues that you get through colour, type, materials and design are much more immediate. But online, you need to make a first impression with a tiny cut-out picture of however many pixels, plus you need to be able to differentiate between different products in a range without the guidance of helpful staff.
The qualities that make an item irresistible to share in the digital environment differ from those that capture attention in the physical store. The brand world you’re creating needs to be thrilling, coherent, utterly unique and, most importantly, completely seductive and desirable. In the mass of tiny low-pixel images of products that your customers are scrolling through, it has to stand out and sing. Conjuring the must-have factor online requires a strong sense of who you are as a brand, presented clearly and compellingly with sophisticated visual codes and arresting storytelling that speak of who you are and what you are about.