Can Your Produce Brand Work Harder at the Shelf?

Written by David Edmundson

When speaking with produce marketers regarding what they want out of their brand and packaging, you hear things like, “We want it to pop”, “It needs to feel high quality”, “Make it look fresh”, “We want to look like a category leader”. While the intentions are good, without a more strategic approach most brands end up over packaged and uninspired, lacking the emotional appeal needed to engage shoppers and ultimately increase market share. Before embarking on your next brand creation or redesign initiative, consider the following points to help ensure a fresh and successful outcome:

1) Does Your Brand Tell an Authentic Story?
We’re not talking about the 8 lines of text on the back of your bag but about your brand’s visual expression and whether it communicates the true you in a unique way. In the produce sector many companies fail to share a compelling and genuine story. This leads to generic looking packs with large logos, graphic color bars and redundant product photography that lack ownability. Developing a visually distinctive brand language that tells an authentic story will engage shoppers and help set your brand apart.
2) Does Your Brand Appear Fresh?
In produce, freshness is communicated by the product itself. Unlike frozen dinners or cereal boxes, a picture is not worth a thousand words. The product should be the hero, with the brand and graphics serving a supporting role to help differentiate and communicate things like trust and quality. Finding the right balance between product visibility and brand impact is a crucial consideration when you want to stand out without sacrificing freshness perceptions.
3) Is Your Messaging Meaningful?
Product description, quality/quantity statements, health benefits, flavor profiles, sustainability messages, etc.… That’s a lot to communicate on a clamshell or bag, especially when you are trying to minimize the graphics. It’s critical that your messaging is simplified down to two key points– what makes your product different and why a shopper should buy it. By reducing content and focusing on what matters most to your audience your package will be less cluttered and more engaging.
4) Is Your Brand Versatile?
Given the many production techniques, substrates, sizes, and structures in the industry, it is important to consider how your brand voice reproduces in different scenarios– such as a spot color box vs. a 4-color bag or the size limitations of a PLU tag vs. a large display box. Quality perceptions are at stake, a strong brand will reproduce flawlessly across any medium for maximum consistency and increased brand equity.
5) Is Your Brand Tired?
All brands need to revitalize their packaging to stay relevant. Many brands in the produce sector are outdated, opening the door for competition and loss of market share. Keeping your brand current is a great way to differentiate and provide new meaning. Is there a new benefit or characteristic that can be leveraged for more consumer relevance? Being current is not about looking trendy or being different just to be different, it’s about creating a better bond between your brand and consumers.
6) Is Your Packaging Unified?
The best brands speak with one distinctive voice across all touch points, both visually and verbally. Consistency fosters trust and loyalty. Clamshell labels, PLU stickers, display boxes, handle bags, and POP displays should all speak with the same dynamic brand voice. By engaging consumers with a unified appearance and message across your entire product line, you can maximize brand recognition and relevance where it matters most… at the shelf.

The produce sector is a largely untapped and underdeveloped category with its own set of challenges and special considerations when it comes to branding and packaging. Some would say that in produce, brands don’t have the same influence as in other categories, but there is certainly opportunity to act buying decisions for those willing to take a strategic, shopper focused approach.

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