Trending now - the art of the Artisan Brand?
Updated: Jun 5, 2018
We read that big business, big agriculture, big food, in fact anything big, is mostly bad.
Apparently, they cheat, lie, adulterate, cut corners and avoid tax.
By contrast, in the food business, smaller scale production is good, clean, honest and natural. And is produced by people just like us - rather than a faceless corporate.
We are seeing the rise of artisan brands, some of which are giving ‘big food’, and their ‘big brands’ a run for their money. Consumers have choices and many are now choosing the artisan.
So what makes artisan brands work so well? How do they capture our hearts and minds - and ultimately our shopping money.
Our designers have been working with artisan brands for many years. And we forecast these brands will have a bigger influence on how food in general is marketed, branded and sold.
We feel there are four pillars which help brands resonate with shoppers. And these values need to come across on-pack in a way that’s believable and ultimately ‘honest’. Shoppers are savvy and most can easily spot the ‘faux artisan’.
The four pillars of the Artisan brand - a breakdown.
Pillar 1. Made since - History
If you don’t like what you see ahead you then do a 180 and look back. We’re all susceptible to the ‘reminisce bomb’ - that warm retro glow of reassurance from the good times. It makes us happy.
Even the well-established mega brands, like Pepsi Cola are not averse to offering us some persuasive nostalgia to help us believe in the values of their brand.
However most artisans’ brands are ‘new’ entities, as is the trend itself, making it hard for some artisan brands to have much of a history. So they often find their history lies elsewhere:
The history of the process. eg. cheese making or gin distilling.
The history of our engagement with that food or drink. eg. tea, coffee, pizza.
Or the history of the location. eg. Hippster Central location for London's artisan soda
Pillar 2. Made in - Provenance
Where are you from? It’s a fail-safe opener when meeting strangers. A chance for the other side to give away some information while starting the conversation. It’s the same for food brands. We all want to know where it came from - particularly if it’s new to us.
For some origin brands this ‘where are you from’ question is straightforward. A farm to fork story, which we all fall for even when we know it’s probably a fake - like Tesco’s Redmere Farms, Boswell Farms, or Willow Farms. Farms that only exist as a marketing idea.
But is provenance more that a GPS location? Is the provenance where and when this food type is eaten? As in seasonal beers or panna cotta. Is their provenance in where they are sourced or how ingredients are grown and farmed?
Pillar 3. Made by - Character
We often use the gold standard of our family recipes to measure other food experiences. “It’s not like Mum used to make.”
Something similar happens when we discover engaging food personalities - be they TV cooks, celebrity chefs, farmers, or film stars, who become part of our extended ‘media’ family. Their recipes, ingredients or products acquire an intrinsic appeal. “It’s not as good as Delia’s”.
More often than not, the characters behind an artisan brand offer no more than earnest and unrelenting dedication to their product and it’s this custodianship of the produce and brand that we value. But we are ready to trust these people and believe they bestow a value on their brand.
Pillar 4. Ingredients (and secrets) - Made from
Check the ingredients in, for example, an artisan chilli sauce and the mass-market version. Chances are they are similar. But it’s likely the taste experiences of the two are miles apart.
This is because the artisan brand will have been more discerning about the quality of the base ingredients. Smaller production volumes give more flexibly to modify recipes and the chance to shop around for the best ingredients at that time. Artisans are less dependent on scale and volume. To an extent, they are also less concerned by rigid production processes. The subtle variations in flavour or colour are after all part of the artisan charm.
An artisan brand also needs at least one secret - for example, the length of time the product is smoked, the amount of herbs added, the secret of the soil the produce is grown in. It’s these secrets that add some magic to the brand story. And who’s not seduced by a little magic in their lives?