Authenticity reigns supreme these days, especially as Gen Z’s real seekers come of age (and purchasing power) and as e-commerce continues to soar and similar-looking “blands” proliferate.

Today’s consumers, particularly millennials and younger, want to care about the products they buy. They are curious about not just what’s in the product, but who makes it, why they make it, and how they are supporting the community at large in doing so. And with a growing segment of consumers making grocery purchases from their phones or other devices the buying process has become even more personal.

For makers, clearly defining your purpose is the key to developing and maintaining authenticity all the way from ingredients to packaging and marketing. But of course, that process looks different for every maker. And that’s ok because you’re doing you.

Steve Redmond, principal and creative director of Rival Brands, a branding and graphic design agency, said makers need to consider their four tenets when developing their brand— values, mission, vision and purpose.

Getting to the heart of a brand’s identity and what they want to do, who they hope to reach, and where they want to go will help formulate the overall brand story, but in an honest way. Narrowing down these brand elements will also help the brand stay on track with their goals as they continue to grow.

Some Examples:
Cafe Femenino

"When you spend, you are essentially voting for that product or service, the brand. The world rearranges and forms based on that purchase."—Tobi Lutke
No doubt, having a carefully crafted story makes it easier to craft the overall brand architecture, with room for some tweaks here and there. When developing her Power Veggie Bites, Christina Appleton of
Appleton’s Market was excited about having her family’s legacy as an actual grocery store in the Midwest from the 1960s to draw upon.

This history influenced the name and the logo (an illustration of the original storefront) but when it came to packaging and brand colors, she was able to incorporate a more modern sensibility that would appeal to millennials and other folks searching for healthier snack options. (See more of our talk with Christina on Instagram here.)

Yet Steve of Rival Brands said that a brand’s story doesn’t always have to be founder-based. The ingredient combination or the process of how an ingredient is sourced can serve as a brand story as well.

Siete Foods
Amy's Kitchen 

While it might be tempting to go with the de rigeur branding templates (see again this article on blands), makers run the risk of swimming in a sea of sameness. And what’s trendy might not actually be effective. Drawing upon her experience as a brand manager for General Mills and her time at Thrive Market, Christina was careful to make sure her packaging could photograph well for e-commerce platforms whether it be on a white background or something else.

This is why Steve recommends honing your brand identity and design, alongside your product, not afterwards. For more on what Rival Brands does, go here.

Ugly Drinks

And let's not forget about the most important part of the authenticity equation—the product. If you're product isn't good, then your authentic message is simply just that, a message. As 2PML pointed out in a commentary on "blands", brands that first started in farmers markets, parking lots, school fairs or local food stands mastered their products before they turned on the marketing engine. Blands, typically, worked on their identity before even turning out a product. Perfect that product and you won't run the risk of being a "bland". 

Schmidt's Naturals

IG Live with Christina Appleton of Appleton's Market
Building Your Food and Beverage Brand's Voice Authentically 
Brands Beating Bland
How to Win By Breaking GOOD
A New Model for the Consumer Goods Industry 


The need for change in the American food industry has never been more urgent. Our current food system is putting our citizens at greater risk of disease, both acute and chronic, which has become profoundly clear in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

To illuminate some of these central issues — while learning ideas and ways to chart a better path forward — we’re thrilled to partner with The Well on Food For Thought: A Nutrition Policy Summit, on October 21. The lineup will feature leading experts in medicine, nutrition and food policy — here’s a peek at the confirmed speakers so far. 

Want to attend? Sign up (for free!) here. 


⚗️Ingredient Insider

UPCYCLING TRENDING UP:  As F&B brands look to combat food waste and build a more sustainable food system, upcycled ingredients are showing to be a promising initative. Upcycling was a top trend at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show, and Whole Foods place upcycling as #6 on their 2021 trend report. See who's taking the lead on this! (And stay tuned for our special upcycling report coming soon.) 

📲Digital Discovery 

ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT: Our Digital Discovery program in partnership with TipHero has filled up fast but we do have a few spots left in December. Think your brand is perfect for this? Set up a call with us today! 

🧠 Reading Roundup: October 20, 2020

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