January 2, 2014

Capture Food Brand Loyalty with 3 Easy Steps

Capture Food Brand Loyalty with 3 Easy Steps

Do you want your food product brand to stand the test of time? Well, for just five easy payments of $99.99, we can deliver the three crucial branding and labeling components that will guarantee product success and global brand domination! Cash only, please.

Totally kidding (unless you want to send us the money anyway; we won’t complain)!  Brand loyalty is a fickle mistress. Very few products have achieved the slavish customer loyalty that Heinz, for example, has. There might be loads of fantastically delicious ketchups on the market, but we’ve all decided that we like Heinz, we’re used to Heinz, and Heinz is what we’re going to buy. Organic Valley be damned.

Food label design is deceptively multi-faceted and difficult – it isn’t merely a matter of giving the brand name folksy typography or a supple color scheme. Not only are there hundreds of FDA regulations to contend with, there is also the small matter of making the food product appear delicious. A trans-fat free canola oil spray that was manufactured near milk and tree nuts? Yum!

What can we do to try and capture a similar level of brand loyalty that Heinz has? How can we secure a customer base that will stay with us throughout the life of our brand? For one, you could increase your public exposure by marrying a future presidential candidate, but other than that, here are a few other things to try:

Give the Customers what They Want, but Can’t Find Elsewhere

Unless your company is cynically jumping on a food-trend bandwagon, there must be some reason your product is different from or better than the competition’s. What does your brand of whole fruit jam have that other brands don’t? Even if the answer is merely “love,” make sure you make that clear.

It is all too obvious, and yet so rarely done. Executives are so timid about differentiating their products from other successful brands; it’s almost as though they want their product to be accidentally purchased in place of another’s. Don’t rely on customer misidentification — if people are looking for gluten-free alternatives to commonly available foods, make sure your gluten-free product has this feature clearly displayed.


There are so many food products glutting the market that it isn’t necessity that draws us to them anymore, it is largely what the products say about us as people that draw us in. Food isn’t just nutrition; it’s a lifestyle.

Unless you’ve invented a food item (and sometimes even this isn’t enough. Cronuts, anyone?), you have to give the consumer the impression that your product will give the buyer a status they wouldn’t achieve with any other brand. And we’re not merely talking about wealth, either. We’re talking about a different kind of snobbery, and sometimes people can get snobby about how little they spend on a product.

For a boutique brand, a successful product is often a product for the discriminating consumer. The contemporary foodie hipster wants their clique to believe that they only accept a certain quality of food product into their home – a food product that only people who know better would consume. High quality and supreme good taste are features a burgeoning brand must have.


Yes, the customer must be able to read the product label – even a toddler could have told you that. But it isn’t as easy as making the font bold – label materials and package shape must be taken into account. If the store lighting hits a certain glossy material in a certain way, it can obscure the lettering, making it impossible to read quickly. Believe us, customers aren’t going to sway from side to side trying to find the optimum lighting scheme that will render your label legible.

Don’t let graphics play too heavily into your labeling decision, either. Yes, pictures of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables are great tools for conveying the freshness of a product, but if they obscure a major selling point (no preservatives, no corn syrup, extra bold, etc.), they’ve done you more harm than good.

Your food label designer must be sensitive to not only the needs of your product, but the needs and tastes of the consumer. Food label design can make or break a product. The label isn’t just the customer’s introduction to your particular product, but oftentimes to your entire brand, and that message must communicate both product worthiness and brand stability.


by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

Purposefully selective, we work with brands that want to stand out and also stand for something.

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