Fruits of their Labor

Posted: February 19, 2016 by
By Keith Loria

When reviewing the performance and packaging for its Baobest BaoBites and Baobab Superfruit powder, Baobab Foods wanted to increase the appeal of both products to different target consumers in boutique brand’s fan base.

“We had done a design a couple of years ago, just to have up online as we were developing plans for Baobab, but nothing too elaborate,” says Stephan Broburg, general manager of Baobab Foods. “When we looked at it a year-and-a-half ago, now that we had the BaoBites and superfruit snacks, we wanted to redevelop it into something that would go with the BaoBite powder.”

For instance, he explains, the baobab powder appeals to consumers looking to enhance the nutritional profile of other foodies, such as smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt; while the BaoBites is super fruit snack appeals to consumers who want to healthy organic food that can be eaten on the go. In essence, the typical brand strategy for products in these categories would require two different design ideas.

Creating cross-generational appeal

Baobab Foods called on Centric Brand Anthropology to help it find visual brand identities that both target markets would crave.

“They are known for doing a lot of consumer research and their approach deals with a lot of cultural anthropologists, so it’s not just relying on surveys; they are in people’s houses seeing how they live and how they use consumer products,” Broburg says. “They do a lot of research so they were able to help us figure out the target audience.”

Centric Brand Anthropology has spent 25 years doing anthropological research with consumers in food, health, and sustainability. Its team is all internal and made up of Ph.D.-level cultural anthropologists and seasoned brand designers, who touch on everything they do.

Michelle Barry, Ph.D., president and CEO of Centric Brand Anthropology, notes the company worked with the team at Baobab Foods to uncover the nuances of its story, identify the various eating occasions in food culture for a variety of consumers, the context for those occasions, and the emotional landscape of how this product and brand could be expressed.

“The demographic is across the board from little kids, up to adults, and you’re selling something that has a little more fun aspect when you’re eating it, but also it happens to have nutrients, so it’s not just fruit candy,” Broburg says.

Looking at Baobab’s key customer base, ethnographic research was the primary methodology used to inform the design brief and ultimate execution of the packaging.

“We spent time shopping with consumers, talking with them in their homes and areas where relevant behaviors were occurring, asking them to document when they were eating relevant categories of snack foods,” Barry says. “From there, we conducted semiotic analysis of the language and symbols that were showing up in these conversations and observations to create the final vision.”

“We have spent years developing unique ways to get underneath ideas and behaviors that people often have a difficult time expressing so that we can develop relevant and meaningful design solutions,” Barry says. “We had a very grounded foundation to build upon in understanding the target audience. The steps taken to effectively communicate with this audience ranged from traditional advertising to earned media, retailer promotions to grass-roots community building and social media campaigns.”

“Part of our thought process was to have something that could be sold online, something that could be in club stores, something used as a control brand in certain brick and mortar retail food spaces,” Broburg says. “And we wanted to redo our whole branding, logo and everything, so decided to do it all in one swoop.”

The design strategy

The initial concept for the BaoBites packaging design was to capture the symbolic value of a cross-cultural and indigenous product but in a contemporary style that resonates to the snack food experience in the U.S.

“Because this was a redesign, my key goal was to simplify the design for a clean, but authentic look,” Joelle Chizmar, creative director for Centric Brand Anthropology, who also served as lead designer and illustrator on the project, says.

Barry adds, “The challenges were largely based on striking the balance of color and ‘pop’ we were striving for with the quality of packaging texture and product visibility.” Chizmar also noted that it was a challenge to create something that would appeal to both adults and kids alike, without skewing to either extreme.”

 The Finished Project

The completed design symbolizes some of the key brand elements of Baobest and who it is as a company: responsible, transparent, knowledgeable, proactive and innovative.

“The brand’s visual identity also symbolizes some of the emotional benefits we want to communicate to the people who experience Baobest, such as empowerment and making an impact each day but in a spirit that is joyful, liberated and a little wild,” Barry says.

Broburg adds that relative to where it was, the packaging offers a much cleaner look, has some whimsy to it—at least on the BaoBites side—and it’s helped the company establish a much clearer messaging and positioning for the intended target markets.

“I like it a lot. I facilitated a lot of packaging design over the years, and I think they did a great job with it,” he says. “We feel the packaging has evolved as we’re evolving our messaging, and it’s nice to see it gets more fine-tuned and tightened up as we go along here.”

Since the change, a SPINS study showed a huge growth in retail sales for the products and Broburg expects the numbers to rise when the final numbers come in for 2015 and what’s ahead in 2016.

“Sales were up over 250 percent,” Broburg says. “Our ingredients [business] also was up almost 300 percent in the retail space. The strategy worked, and the package design  helped us sell more product and build [brand and product] awareness.”