Cocoa origin from estate X, farm Y, cooperative W, or region Z.
Infographics of the chocolate making process.
The checklist of voluntary claims on your average fine chocolate packaging represents such a tried and true rite that fine chocolate brands don’t bother to wonder if it will still be adequate to craft a persuasive story for the end customer in 2020.
What’s the hard reality?
In an increasingly connected and competitive market, getting noticed by customers who are the ones to have a say in the matter isn’t that piece of cake anymore. Copycat tags and lackadaisical captions tossed off on the front, back, and edges of fine chocolate packagings are saturating the mind of the savvy customer nowadays.
Everything a brand does—from using a particular color hue, combination, contrast, and effects to writing specific claims in a certain way—is part of their branding. As part of the overall branding experience, packaging represents both the first impression and a thoughtful extension of the identity of a brand.
When every piece of information “tastes” floppy and imitated from different brands to modern day consumer’s eye, what little but strategic expedients can the packaging of fine chocolate products emanate like a breath of fresh air in 2020?
1) Eco-friendly packaging is no longer an alternative.
Eco-friendly packaging was once a niche that only a small minority of consumers took notice of.
In 2020, consumers are increasingly putting pressure on brands to improve the impact packaging has on the environment, with ethical packaging now becoming a must-have quality when purchasing a product, according to market research company Innova Market Insights.
Even if the biggest challenge for brands is to convince consumers that sustainable packaging materials are worth the extra cost, yet a growing share of conscious consumers does wonder about the effects of their lifestyle on the environment.
As demand for organic and natural products grows—and the clean label trend continues to increase in popularity—having entirely or partly non-recyclable packaging may start to limit the success of products like chocolate, which rate highly on ethics and sustainability in other parts of the supply chain.
2) Visual cohesion between packaging and mold proves attention to detail.
It represents one of the most common mistakes made by craft chocolate brands: to think about packaging as only the outer shell of the product, and therefore ignore its link with the aesthetics of the mold.
Specialty food products like fine chocolate are even more unique than other delicacies for presenting “a shaped nature” to the end consumer. It would then be such a rookie mistake to concentrate all the creative work at the level of the external packaging and leave the mold narrative “disconnected” with a promising visual prelude.
If settling with an anonymous mold implies accepting that other brands may use the same design, even worse is leaving a mold “disengaged” with the logo and other distinctive elements of the fine chocolate packaging. By showing such a lazy level of attention to detail between packaging and mold, consumers may have their overall tasting experience disappointing, for a halo effect from the visual sense.
As brands can’t afford any shortcuts when it comes to expressing brand recognition in a crowded and increasingly knowledgeable market, it would terribly appear amateurish to underestimate coherence and recall of the visual details between packaging and mold in the overall presentation of a fine chocolate product.
3) Great packaging needs engagement—not branding—experts.
Another rather widespread mistake committed by craft chocolate brands is to approach the realization or remaking of their packaging with the assumption that skipping the joint effort of a team of creatives and squeezing one-brain juice will do the task.
Likewise a book or a magazine, which is the result of a combined work of authors, editors, graphic designers, and print providers, so the packaging of a food product needs a pool of diverse minds intersecting their know-how at various levels on a named project. While the packaging designer helps to conceptualize a customer’s brand with graphic elements, she doesn’t usually represent the ultimate branding expert.
To ignite one sparkle or two in the mind of today’s consumer, the validation of a successful food packaging will call the opinion of professionals who know well:
- the niche market for a specific product;
- the profile of the end user for that particular product.
If the work of a talented packaging designer is a prerequisite for a fine chocolate brand, this latter will need additional support from the real professional specialized in engaging the target market: the copywriter. Copywriters are the wordsmiths who create the elements of the copy (texts, captions, tags) that will work best on the packaging for a specific brand, making sure that the details described appear centered on the brand’s character and adopting a fresh but familiar form that will entice the target consumer.
While up to 10 years ago, creating a food packaging was a slower but less complicated process—due to a still feeble diffusion of mobile technology and digital marketing—nowadays, food packaging requires a copywriter also be equipped with complementary analytical and market research skills to choose the very terms people inquire the most on the Internet.
For strategically positioning a product both on a store shelf and on page one of Google, a content creator in a specific industry niche has all the right credentials for representing the best copywriter for any brand in 2020. As a matter of fact, a blogger, writer, or educator creating consistent content online about a target industry knows a crucial element to seal the branding puzzle: her target audience.
As consciously engaging the target audience will be key to differentiate a brand doing well on the market from another just selling a product and touting its gorgeousness, relying on the skills of a copywriter with a deep understanding of the industry will be a top branding asset for fine chocolate products in 2020.
4) Social-proof endorsements influence consumer’s informed decision.
It’s the usual painful and tedious scheme when it comes to getting the ball rolling for brand awareness in 2020. Brands randomly reach out to this and that influencer on Instagram and pitch their desperate proposal: would the influencer be happy to receive the new products and share some honest experience about them with her hyper-excited audience?
But no long-lasting benefits will follow to a short-sighted brand awareness strategy nowadays.
In the best case scenario, the influencer put all her efforts to talk love about a brand on the social media, what happens when the same brand is at the crude mercy of a shelf—and the potential buyer knows little or nothing about it? Here is where fine chocolate brands may take advantage of a smart branding strategy that will work on their packaging to attract or convince their target buyer.
Exactly as a best-selling book would have on the back of its cover a list of trusted reviews by authoritative voices in the same industry, so showcasing approval by industry experts on the packaging of a chocolate product could trigger powerful persuasion in favor of one brand over another. This phenomenon is called “social proof.”
Social proof, also known as ‘informational social influence,’ was first explained in 1984 by Professor of Psychology Robert Cialdini in his book, “Influence.” Social proof describes how people undertake the actions of others in an attempt to approach an unknown situation—like taking a decision on a brand they know little about.
In simple terms, any positive thoughts, comments, and endorsements about a product are considered ‘social proof’ when external validation by third-party experts (professionals trusted for being knowledgeable about a specific subject matter) who experienced that product firsthand will make the brand of that product trustworthy to others in the autopilot mode.
In 2020, fine chocolate brands have an opportunity to make social proof part of their overall branding presence and reinforce their identity even when they are unknown to their target user.
5) Branded hashtags boost brand awareness on social media.
Having a website URL—or a QR code, plus social media handles printed on the packaging is no longer sufficient to build up brand awareness in 2020. Due to the built-in hashtag capacity of business-oriented social media, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, having a branded hashtag will be a vital component for successful branding.
What is a branded hashtag and what are the pros of displaying a branded hashtag on a packaging?
A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s unique to a brand, business, or company. It can be as simple as the brand name, tagline, or something else to do with the brand identity.
While community hashtags are meant to increase posts’ engagement rates and get more followers through content reach, branded hashtags are created to connect a brand with its target audience.
Getting customers and followers to use branded hashtags in their posts and stories is key to getting discovered on social media by new audiences. If people love the product of a brand—and share their experience with others to spread awareness about it, a branded hashtag will then be a valid asset to further growing the brand following.
To work effectively, branded hashtags have to be included in all the brand marketing materials, as well as on the brand Instagram bio, so that followers reading the brand bio will be motivated to share something related to the name of that brand and, in turn, be reached by other users sharing their personal experience with that brand.
In addition to creating a feed customized around a brand, branded hashtags have another huge benefit. In a 2018 update, Instagram added the ability to follow hashtags, meaning brands and businesses will augment their probability to regularly appear in a follower’s feed.—LinkedIn soon followed suit with the same feature.—Promoting a branded hashtag means that the brand content may appear twice in a follower’s feed.
For fine chocolate brands, having a branded hashtag doubles the chances of engagement on social media whereas organic content reach has continually shrunk and lost a considerable percentage of eyeballs over the last couple of years.
To recap, branding has changed in 2020. Fine chocolate brands must decide whether to keep up with all—or at least start to apply three—of the five strategies suggested for the packaging of their product, or expect the next brand on the shelf or their social media feeds steal the attention of elusive customers, one handful at a time.
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Which packaging tips are you going to pay more attention to to boost your brand awareness as a fine chocolate brand in 2020?