Four Steps To Elevate Your Food or Beverage Brand

March 23, 2020
Zero in on flavor, product story, packaging and brand assets to get to the next level.

You’ve got a great tasting product with good virtues that launched successfully and is resonating with consumers. Yet you just can’t seem to grow to the next level, becoming a $100-million business versus a $10-million one.

Sound familiar? It’s a scenario I see played out time and again working with food producers of all sizes to elevate their brand to gain consumer attention and trust. Companies tell me their product is the best thing out there – sales are OK, but they never get to the point where it’s flying off store shelves and they can’t pinpoint why.

What I’ve found is that there are four tried-and-true steps to boost any brand by zeroing in on flavor, product story, packaging and brand assets. When all of these elements are tied together in one thematic expression, the customer experience is naturally elevated.

Step 1: Assess your product

It’s easy to think you can boost a brand simply by changing its design or creating a cool new logo. But if you’re out of touch with what consumers actually think about your product, a new look won’t entice them back.

The first step is to reach out to your target audience directly – through focus groups, surveys, in-store taste tests or man-on-the-street interviews – and find out what they like or dislike about your product. It could be time to slightly reformulate or remove an ingredient, or you may need to reposition your product from the ground up. Either way, you’ll get the clarity you need to lay the groundwork for a better brand architecture.

Step 2: Build a consistent brand story

When you take a strong position in the market, it’s important to ensure all products living under your brand ladder up to the story you’re telling. If you veer too far from your brand message, consumers become confused and lose their connection to your product as a trusted choice.

Perhaps, for example, you’re selling milk to adults with the positioning that your product is the best organic choice. You decide to launch a children’s line and your first instinct is to introduce cute new messaging and graphics that appeal to kids. It’s important to remember that the parent responsible for household shopping is looking for your organic message, not necessarily a colorful cartoon. When you stick to your brand story, your customers will reach for the new children’s milk because they already trust what’s inside.

Step 3. Structure packaging according to the brand story

Once you confirm that your overall brand story is on point and your product is delivering the right message, it’s time to look for creative ways to reinforce that story within the physical attributes of the package itself. For example, if you’re selling yogurt and the main brand message is “smooth and creamy,” consider packaging it in a smooth, curvy container.

If you decide to promote an ingredient virtue, such as "high in protein" or "low in sugar," make sure the graphic elements of the packaging deliver that message in an eye-catching way. If your taste tests showed that consumers really enjoy the subtle sweet finish of your product, consider going gentler on your packaging with the use of a lighter style font and pastel colors.

Step 4. Develop clear, unified brand assets

A common issue in the food industry is that different products within the same brand often live in different worlds. The only connection is the brand name – the logos are dissimilar and the color palettes are inconsistent, resulting in consumer confusion.

When you know your flavor is spot on and have a strong brand story that is reflected in your packaging, the final step is to take a deep dive into your overall brand architecture to guarantee that all brand assets promote a consistent message, clearly and succinctly.

A new ice cream line, for example, is turning heads for its “sleep expert and crave monster approved” messaging that communicates nighttime snacking is OK. Each flavor has a contents-related monster pictured on the container, holding a high-quality image of a real scoop of the ice cream inside. The message stays consistent, yet consumers can easily distinguish the flavors.

Following this four-step exercise will help any company build the foundational pieces needed to elevate a brand, communicate a more engaging message and ultimately boost product sales.

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