What Beyoncé and Steve Jobs can teach food & drink start-ups
My colleague Dave and I recently visited the ‘Food Matters’ show in London. It was a great event with tons of really innovative brands in the health-conscious food & drink market. We drank, we ate and talked to many passionate people.
As we walked through the stands sipping on 5 different types of coconut water, the first question we were asked whenever we ‘revealed’ that we were in fact branding & packaging designers was: “OK, so what would you do differently about our pack?”
As the day went by we noticed some patterns amongst the numerous exciting start-ups at the show. Most of the time they were not short of great product and marketing ideas, but some of their branding could use some polishing. So here they are, our 4 top branding tips for food & drink start-ups:
- Story is key. Food & drink markets are extremely competitive; whatever you are doing, the chances are that someone else is already doing it or about to do the same. This is why your story is key. In a world where you could drink a different brand of birch water every week of the year, it is ultimately the brand story & personality that will win people over. But having a story is only a small part of the success: You still have to make sure that your branding and packaging tells that story.
- This brings me to our next tip: Make sure your message is clear. We’ve seen a few products with beautifully designed packaging, but which told us absolutely nothing about what we were about to eat or drink. And I’m not talking about that exciting feeling of intrigue but just plain confusion. That is not to say that you have to spell out every bit of information on the front of the pack but rather consider what the product and main benefit is.
- Package your idea properly: If your idea is good you shouldn’t need to use gimmicks and complicated print techniques to bring it across. However, there are very few things as disappointing as a great idea with execution that sucks – especially when it comes to food & drink packaging where there is nowhere to hide. A cheap label, unpolished visuals or font that just doesn’t work can put your whole idea at risk of being dismissed as cheap or untrustworthy. Consider what everything – pack format, name, logo, typography, colours, and print quality – communicates about your brand.
- Follow through with your idea: At Food Matters we saw many brands with some great design elements that simply did not follow through across their marketing media. Consistency is such an important part of creating a recognizable, ownable brand. Why do you think Steve Jobs always wore black turtlenecks and those horrendous New Balance 407’s? The lack of consistency is often a challenge when it comes to start-ups, as you are still in the process of figuring out who you are. Even Beyoncé had a few hiccups (yes, that satin & fur combo really happened) on the road to becoming Beyoncé. There are many people capable of coming up with a good idea; a cool logo, catchy slogan or brand icon but it’s about developing that idea and applying it consistently throughout your communication that will set you apart.