Rants & Raves
November 1, 2023
What's in a Name?

As a specialist in consumer products and packaging design, I'm always on the lookout for standout brands. Based on recent visits to several supermarkets and specialty food stores, it seems emphasis these days is placed more on creatively conceived brand names.


Standout brands are the ones that distinguish themselves within their own category through innovative packaging and applied graphics that are unlike anything else on the shelf. A few of these are Califia Farms (dairy), Pom Wonderful (juice), Steven Smith (tea), Siete Foods (salty snacks) and Vital Farms (dairy). While not a grocery brand, the engineering and minimalist design of Apple's packaging deserves recognition as well.

When it comes to brand names, cleverly conceived nomenclature has been commonplace for wine (i.e., Hot to Trot, Goats do Roam, Bread & Butter, French Maid, Our Daily Red) and beer (i.e., Horny Devil, Voodoo Ranger, Dragon's Milk, Kooky Koala, Morning Wood). I was amazed, however, by the sheer number of brand names throughout the store, beyond the wine and beer aisles, that incorporated puns, qualitative references and plain ol' silliness (i.e., Tru Fru, Mightylicious, Swoon, NutZo, Lesser Evil, Devour, Gimme, Skinny Dipped).

While I have no doubt they provoke smiles, it feels as if these witty brands are simply begging for attention without delivering value. Will a little humor at the point of sale be enough to provoke trial, compel repeat purchase and build brand loyalty? Or will these products be passed over and quickly forgotten?

As a brand strategist, I understand that packaging and brand imagery must be distinctive and memorable. From a strategic perspective, it must also communicate clearly and resonate with those individuals most likely to purchase. If the overall design of the product (packaging, labelling, brand imagery) and value proposition are strategically and creatively conceived, then a little humor is a welcome addition.

I also understand that, as a Baby Boomer, I may not be the target audience for many of these brands, hence my finding them less than relevant. This being said, if a touch of humor in the grocery store can brighten my day and make my shopping experience that much more enjoyable, I'm all for it.

Jeffrey Spear has been writing about food, creating culinary brands, developing recipes and producing cookbooks for more than 40 years. If you're looking to enhance the impact of your culinary brand, or simply need someone to tell your story in ways that are visually and emotionally appealing, give Jeff a call: 866 787 8761 - or shoot him an email: jeff@studiospear.com