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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

One Product Branded 3 Ways

Vegan food in containers with labels

Veganism has shrugged off its old stereotypes to become a badge people are wearing with pride.

And a look at the branding line-up shows there’s more than one way to sell a Shroomdog…

Banana blossom and chips, anyone? A blob of Vegenaise on your Shroomdog? Or maybe a Tofurky sandwich to plug the hole? These are just a few of the dishes on the menu for the nation’s vegans, and the list is growing – fast.

Once associated with bean-eating hippies, veganism has undergone a radical transformation in recent years, with its popularity skyrocketing. Between 2014 and 2018 the number of vegans in the UK quadrupled to 600,000. Almost half of these made the change in 2018, the same year Britain launched more vegan products than any other nation. And now, in 2024, there are 2.5 million vegans in the UK, 4.7% of the population.

It’s a boom that shows no signs of stopping as lots more make the switch for health, environmental and animal welfare reasons. According to Sainsbury’s Future of Food report, it’s estimated vegans and vegetarians will make up a quarter of the British population by 2025.

One thing’s for sure, they’re certainly being well catered for. Every major UK supermarket now offers its own vegan range alongside countless other brands, and all the fast food giants have put animal-free meals on their menus. Even IKEA has got in on the act, recently introducing plant balls as an alternative to its famous meat version.

With new vegan brands and products popping up like mushrooms, the need for stand-out branding is high. Here are 3 companies that have chosen very different ways to get a piece of the (vegan-friendly) pie…

1. Meatless Farm

Example of the Meatless Farm Campaign

Social media has played a big part in the rise of veganism, with a string of high-profile influencers and celebs lining up to extol the virtues of a meat- and dairy-free diet. Perhaps that explains why some of the newer vegan brands are pretty entertaining plant-based pioneers, combining a chatty persona with a good dollop of humour.

One such brand is Meatless Farm, a British company set up in 2016. They made a big noise on social last year when they revamped their branding with the playful ‘M… F…’ tagline. Their chief exec said they felt the nation needed a bit of a lift during lockdown so they set about creating something light-hearted and fun. It certainly gets your attention and rewrites the old, staid stereotypes of veganism.

Interestingly, they’ve swerved the word ‘vegan’ entirely across their branding. Their tagline is ‘lovingly made from plants’ and they talk about ‘making the switch to Meatless’, rather than using the ‘v’ word. It’s a clever way of keeping their appeal broad – showing their products are for anyone dabbling with a plant-based diet, not simply hardcore vegans.

2. Beyond Meat

With all its talk of juicy burgers and sausages with a satisfying sizzle you have to remind yourself that Beyond Meat is talking about something that comes from a plant. In fact, everything from their logo (a picture of a bull in a cape) to their product names (Beyond Burger was the one that got them on the map) and the fact they use the word meat at every opportunity turns traditional vegan marketing on its head.

Their big selling point is they’ve done some clever things with plant protein to recreate the structure of meat, hence the tagline ‘The Future of Protein’. And the message they’re putting out there is you can still eat everything you love, it just doesn’t have to come with any of the negatives linked to eating animal products.

Everything about the brand connotes strength – from the bold black and white typeface and the bull logo, to its claims of super-high protein and iron levels. The target, quite clearly, is carnivores, and re-educating them on what a diet with plant-based alternatives could look like – without an anaemic complexion or mung bean in sight.

3. Linda McCartney’s

Her name has been synonymous with vegetarian and vegan food for three decades, and – despite a dramatic jump in competition – Linda McCartney’s brand remains faithful to its founder.

The simple, child-like heart logo builds on the theme of food from the heart and gives a nod to Linda’s kindness and compassion, both towards animals and the environment. And it’s this caring ethos that is central to the homely brand.

Click on ‘Our story’ on the website and there’s just one option on the drop-down menu, ‘Kindness’. What follows is a video directed by her daughter, Mary, entitled ‘To The World They Inherit’. It’s centred on a single message of kindness, interestingly with just a few fleeting references to food.

A 2020 brand refresh saw some simple tweaks to packaging – more vibrant colours and bolder fonts – to make it easier for consumers to find them in the freezer section. Unlike lots of the newer vegan brands, the company’s put the more typical green at the heart of its branding and hasn’t made much reference to ‘plant power’ or ‘plant-based’ in its vegan range. But the links with Linda’s famous family are still very much a part of the picture, with daughter Stella writing a new back-of-pack biography to highlight her mother’s love of animals, the planet, food and family.

Top Tips

In an ultra-competitive industry like this one, a brand needs to work extra hard to forge that all-important connection with its customers. To build a strong brand, think about…

Who you are

Draw up a list of adjectives to describe your company and then whittle it down to the three that perfectly sum you up. Are you fun, bold and creative like Meatless Farm? Calm, caring and ethical like Linda McCartney’s? Three little words can really help foster a fast understanding of what you’re all about, whichever industry you’re in. What you stand for

This applies to any brand, but it’s especially true if you’re in the vegan market. People are ditching meat and dairy because of some pretty strong beliefs around health, the environment and animal welfare. It’s crucial your customers can see that their values and ethics are aligned with yours.

Where you’re aiming

It’s really important to pin down exactly who your audience is. For example, Beyond Meat has been pretty fearless in trying to convert carnivores, instead of reaching out to existing vegans. If you know exactly who you’re talking to it’ll help define everything from your typeface to your tone of voice.

Why you’re the one to choose

Whichever market you’re in, chances are it’s pretty crowded. Getting to know who you’re up against is the best way to figure out what makes you stand out from the crowd – and how to get that across in your branding.

At Threerooms, we can do all this for you - we provide strategic advice and ambitious design to help brands stand out and thrive. Want to chat through how we can help? Get in touch today.

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