When is the best time to rebrand your food packaging?

The food packaging industry has evolved massively over the last couple of decades. Gone are the days when packaging was produced as cheaply as possible, with the sole purpose of simply holding a product (and in some cases to extend its’ shelf life a little). Now, the expectation is that packaging needs to work much harder for its money.

Today, the fact that packaging makes food products look desirable, keeps them well protected and in perfect condition just isn’t enough. Consumers want it to convey the product values and company philosophy, to detail ingredient, nutritional and allergen information, as well as offer advice about health claims, how best to consume the product, how the product’s been made and by who!

Food packaging now conveys so many messages that it’s not surprising that many customers (once they have found a product they like) require something new, exciting and impactful to catch their eye and influence their purchasing habits.

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today

Spending time continually rebranding is a risky, money draining exercise, that can make it look like you’re struggling with your brand identity. This can generate a lack of retailer confidence and a loss of customers, because they are no longer able recognise your products. However, nobody wants their products to look stale (excuse the pun), because they just won’t sell.

So, why rebrand your food packaging at all?

  • Keep up with the times
    Is your packaging looking outdated in a fast-paced market? Perhaps new materials are available that will help improve product freshness, or be friendlier to the environment? If you are about to change how your packaging is made, then it may also be an ideal opportunity to rebrand.
  • Keep up with the Jones’s
    Your rivals may have changed their packaging designs, bringing them in-line with current trends and customer preferences. Can you afford to let them erode your market share?
  • Stand out amongst the crowd
    When you entered the market, there may only have been a handful of companies selling similar products. You may now find that your trying to hold your corner in an increasingly saturated market. If that’s the case, it’s definitely time to use your USP to maximum effect.

Things to consider when choosing new food packaging…

Since many of the messages we want to convey in our food packaging are done in a subtle way, it’s important to consider every aspect of your packaging design. This will help make sure you are sending customers the correct buying signals.


Texture can be hugely important. For example, if you’re positioning product as ‘high quality’, a matt finish can feel tactile, luxurious and expensive. Whereas a high gloss surface, could be perceived as ‘wipe-clean’ and cheaper.


Choosing colours that stand out from the competition will help differentiate. It’s also worth considering the colours of the core ingredient(s) – when used on the packaging they may compliment the product.


If your food product is intended to be eaten out of the packaging, think about how it can be designed to help orchestrate this.


This can say a lot about the ethos of the company. If you’re trying to convey a wholesome, ethical feeling, then recyclable, natural-looking packaging will help.

Product logo

The logo is potentially the only consistent element across an entire product range, so making sure it stands out and is easily recognisable is essential. When designing new product labels, place them next to rival prodcuts and ask for feedback from existing customers, friends and family.

Starbucks are a good example of rebranding done well. In recent polls, they were voted one of the most iconic brands of our decade. Since starting in Seattle in 1971, they have been through several rebranding exercises. Their first evolution of the logo (in 1987) involved dramatic changes. They changed colours, modified the image of the mermaid, chose a new font and reviewed the words written on the logo itself. In 1992 the changes were far more subtle; opting to give the mermaid a slightly bolder design. However, in 2011 they made the bold move of removing all the text from the logo, having created something so iconic, it could now be easily recognised unaccompanied by any other elements.

When is the best time to rebrand your food packaging? - Starbucks

The evolution of the Starbucks logo.

By comparison Just Eat are a young brand, but they quickly indentified the value of moving with the times. After listening to their customers, and in reaction to ongoing changes in the market, they decided to upgrade and modify their food packaging. They are trialing sauce sachets made from seaweed, have banned single-use plastics and are operating an “opt in” rule for receiving plastic cutlery. These innovations are helping Just Eat improve their company image, demonstrating that although they are in the fast food industry, they are certainly not part of a ‘throw-away’ culture.

When is the best time to rebrand your food packaging - Just Eat

Just Eat trial the world’s first seaweed based sauce sachets to reduce the impact of plastics in a ‘throw-away’ culture.

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James PattenTechnical Director

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