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How important is branding in the food and drink industry?

First impressions are everything and if “the first bite is taken with the eye”, then regardless of how amazing, unique or delicious your product, the packaging will need to work hard to be successful in the food and drink market. Packaging will often be the first point of contact a customer has with you and your goods, and when it’s sat on a crowded shelf or market stall, it needs to excite, entice and engage in a matter of seconds. 

The power of food and drink branding

In 2016, a top 4 UK supermarket started to rebrand some of its food and drink produce under the names of nine, made up farms. They discovered that customers were attracted to these as an alternative to some of the well-known, branded products they were used to, because the packaging led them to believe that the farms were real and the products were made in the UK. In fact, it was an inventive branding exercise to increase sales of products produced in large factories or shipped in from overseas. Although, we don’t condone this type of marketing, it does demonstrate the power of product packaging and how it can influence sales.

Customer behaviour and what influences the choices they make at the checkout, has been researched in depth. While there are some less controllable factors that affect purchases (such as hunger and mood), there are also plenty which can be manipulated. Elements such as quality, colour and texture of packaging, convenience, cooking time, ethical credentials and cost are amongst the most important to consider when branding a product for market. 

Stand out (for the right reasons)

As supermarkets now stock up to 40,000 more food and drink products than they did in the 90s, standing out from the competitors on the shelf is essential to the success of your product. And it’s not just about being eye catching. Customers need to notice your product, get an instantly good first impression, believe in your product and your business!

  • Wear your rosette with pride
    If your product is award-winning, make sure you incorporate this in your branding. If you haven’t won any, what are you waiting for? Get entering! Research shows that customers are far more likely to choose products which they see to be deemed category winners, especially if they’re buying a product they know little about. 
  • Keep it simple
    In this time-pressed world we live in, few customers have the patience to compare notes about why one product is better than another. Be confident and bold with your design. Look for a few choice words that you think will make your product feel more desirable in its category. Spotlight ingredients that will attract customers (especially if they’re currently on trend). Highlight the flavour profiles of your food in the description: using words like citrus, ‘zesty’ or ‘tangy’ opposed to simply ‘lemon flavour’, adds dimension and appeal. 
  • Share you story
    Make sure you share your story. Let customers get to know you and what you and your company stand for. Your point of sale can flaunt this: perhaps it could feature a picture of you, or your team, on the label. Use your website and additional point of sale to share further information with customers. 
  • Share your ratings
    If you have rave reviews of products, or your company has stars of excellence, make sure you share it. This can be done via your website, as well as social media platforms. 

Create an identity, rather than a series of products

Initially, you may only be bringing one product to market. However, by thinking one step ahead, you can make sure you future-proof your business. Think about how your branding would follow through to feature on additional products in the range:

  • Logo
    Make sure your logo is visually memorable and is used (consistently) on all your products. Your product ‘family’ will  then be easily recognisable. 
  • Colour
    A simple palette of colours that complement each other (and stand out from competitors), is preferable to a visually confusing ‘car crash’ of colour. Consider the colour of your food and drink product, especially if you are using glass or see through packaging, and how this may look in contrast to different coloured labels and packaging. 
  • Graphics
    Make sure any supporting graphics or images are professionally drawn and high resolution, so that they can be scaled up and applied to differently sized products and point of sale.
  • Text
    Use a clean and clear font for label or packaging information, the last thing you want is a product description that’s difficult to read.

Get professional

The phrase “you get what you pay for” could not be truer when applied to product branding. You may well have a friend, colleague, or next door neighbour who occasionally uses Adobe InDesign, or Illustrator, but DO NOT be tempted to put the future success of your food and drink product in their hands, just to save a few pounds. Consumers want to buy products that taste homemade and are full of flavour, but as we have discovered, they make impulse decisions based on the packaging. The only way to make something look professional, is to have it created by professionals, such as Cognique – a Design & Marketing Agency with a passion for the Food and Drink Industry.

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Nigel ReeceManaging Director

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