A story of how we baked up a
modern and fresh food brand.
Our client had just successfully exited its produce business, but was interested—actually, passionate—about starting another vegetable-based operation. That’s because our client originally came from farming roots, having been raised on a farm on the outskirts of Chicago. So, produce was in his blood, you might say. And produce would be a focal point in his next business venture.
He had an idea. It was an idea borne out of innovation—and an idea tied to nascent consumer demand for vegetable-based alternative foodstuffs like pasta and veggie-based breads. Sure, others companies were testing the better-for-you food marketplace with zucchini noodles or somesuch, but no one had cracked the code for delicious, yet nutritious pizza. Until our client set his sights.
He tapped our expertise as a Chicago marketing and advertising agency specializing in brand launches and food packaging design and posed a question: Could we put our design knowhow to work with his new company’s culinary skills and bake up a better pizza pie? What’s more, could we use our food packaging design skills to build a better brand? The answer, in both cases, was a resounding yes.
First, we delved into research, because a key part of our process involves gathering insights and strategizing before putting pen to paper. So we went shopping. Looked at the offerings at one grocery store. And another. And another and another. We talked to consumers. We investigated which brands were getting on the shelves in major and small retailers. We looked at a variety of offerings. We also focused on what WASN’T there, to determine gaps in the marketplace. And, we looked at the aesthetics on shelf—what worked design-wise, as well as what to avoid. What flavor profiles did we see shoppers putting into their carts? What was the traffic like in the gluten-free/natural foods section versus the regular pizza case?
We watched. And we asked questions. Where did consumers see authenticity? What did they think was tasty? What were they willing to try for the first time?
Our research showed many avenues were open. But, for us, the best strategies are always rooted in the authentic. So we tapped the heritage of our client’s upbringing: the years he spent as a boy on a farm straddling the urban and the rural; the feel of fresh air while seeing the city lights in the distance; the good earth and its proximity to the concrete jungle. In essence, we embraced the urban farm…and the Urban Farmer. Ultimately, we landed on a perfect encapsulation of the new company’s mission.
So, we went all in on Urban Farmer. Building the brand from scratch, we first developed a brand story that truly celebrated the roots of the founders and simultaneously spoke to what would become the real differentiator in the crowded frozen pizza market: veggie-based pizza, crust and all.
Then, we developed tonality, color palettes and design cues that both visually and textually spoke to the authentic story of farming, and framed the brand through the lens of freshness. Fresh and real veggies went into the products that Urban Farmer was making, so that freshness needed to come through in all our work. After that, we set about to create packaging design that spoke to the brand’s truth.
We strongly believe the path to success for any new brand is understanding the consumer perspective. This focus on the consumer is key to our brand and package design process, and truly separates the wheat from the chaff.
After all, we aren’t always the end consumer for the products we make, so we needed to understand the people who are. So, we asked the hard questions: What cues authenticity and freshness to them? What will convince them to take a chance on an unknown brand?
In most cases the packaging we design is the first impression the brand makes—so it needs to both break through in a very cluttered retail environment, and also tell the brand story, emphasizing the point of difference for the brand. Ultimately, it needs to provide a reason for the consumer to care…and to induce trial. That informed our choices.
Once we were grounded in the consumer perspective, we made strategic decisions about the path forward. We designed. We refined. We assessed and reassessed. Then, we finalized the brand identity and the packaging design. Brand documents were established and identity was rolled out to a full range of elements. So, Urban Farmer went from the seed of an idea to a full grown, bumper crop of products—and a realized vision.
After the elements were finalized, we headed back out into the wilds, gauging consumer reaction and tweaking our approach to maximize the eye-catching appeal. And, we tested the brand positioning and story to ensure it resonated with shoppers. After all, our work established both the immediate brand identity and packaging, and set up the brand for success in the future. This then served as a lynchpin for all marketing efforts.