Are You ‘Just Another Food Brand’?

When launching or scaling a food business, most entrepreneurs think about branding—among the million other things bouncing around in their heads. Between product development, ingredients, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, marketing and website design—and without much if any help on board at the beginning—branding can easily slip down the priority list. Plus, if your sister designs a snazzy logo on Canva and your kid manages the company’s Instagram, that’s branding, right?

Kind of, but not quite. Logos and social media posts are important embodiments of a brand, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. For food companies to grab attention in a crowded marketplace, attract purchases, create raving fans and get on a solid growth path, they need a comprehensive brand strategy.

OK, that sounds nice, but what does brand strategy actually mean? Brand strategist Katie Mleziva, founder of Real Food Brands, puts it simply: “It’s your guide and your glue that connects the dots between everything you do to build a strong food brand that stands out.”

If that seems like a pretty big deal, something that entrepreneurs should start on right away, you are exactly right. Branding isn’t just a single standalone aspect of a food business—it’s all-encompassing, touching every other aspect of the business, from marketing to manufacturing to messaging. That’s why FFI always recommends dialing in a clear, confident and consistent brand strategy as early as possible.

Otherwise, brands risk coming off as incohesive, confused and (gasp!) a commodity. Consumers don’t know who they are, why they are special, how their products benefit them or why they should purchase their products instead of another brand’s—especially if the competition doesn’t cost as much. Unless they feel some kind of emotional tug, most shoppers won’t take a chance on “just another food brand.”

And sure, there are some food companies whose stellar products let them slide without a strategy for a while. But to ensure sustained success, they’d be smart to go back, dig deep and devise one. It’s never too late!

To craft a brand strategy, there are no hard-and-fast rules. But Katie’s Brand Strategy Streamlined Approach has helped dozens of food entrepreneurs to synthesize their ideas, center their business around a solid brand strategy and become successful. She walked through her approach with Tera on the latest Edible-Alpha® podcast, and she’ll coach participating entrepreneurs through it during our Building a Brand that Stands Out training course coming up on May 19.

But in a nutshell, Katie’s approach revolves around three main steps: defining, aligning and activating a brand strategy. Defining (or refining) involves identifying brand pillars, market differentiation points and benefits to consumers. Aligning means getting the entire team on board and all realms on the business in sync with the strategy. Activating means executing the brand strategy throughout the consumer lifecycle, in accordance with the brand’s business goals.

When all these pieces come together, as they will when a solid blueprint has been set, brands can create magic in the marketplace. Consumers will take notice, purchase, purchase again and hopefully tell their friends and family all about it so they purchase too.

A former brand manager for big food companies, Katie Mleziva now shares the secrets to defining, aligning and activating solid a brand strategy with startup and scaling natural food companies. Joining Tera on the podcast, the Real Food Brands founder explains the importance of building a strong brand, versus just offering great products, and outlines the streamlined approach she coaches. This episode is packed with actionable advice, so tune in!

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And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

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Business Model Insights

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Raising Capital

National Wholesale Brands

CPG/National Brands

Grocery Store Produce Section
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Farming and AgTech

Mergers And Acquisitions


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