Tell a Story with Food

July 2015 | by Jenn David Connolly

Packaging your food product may be the final step in the process of getting the product to retail, but it is an important step that is not to be taken lightly. Sure, the outer package holds the necessary information regarding what the product is and the required FDA information, but it is also a unique selling tool that can be utilized to connect authentically with the consumer for a stronger sale. One of the most effective ways to do this is through telling a story, and food is the perfect platform for this.

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Food itself is a focal point of stories—think jovial discussions at the dinner table, lunchtime chats and social gatherings where food is ever-present. Food is social. So how can you make your food product more social with your own story?

First, let’s clarify that by story we are not talking fiction. We are talking about your real and true brand story. The story can either be focused on the brand or the product, or both. It will depend on the context, as well as the amount of space available on the package.

Why a story? Consumers want to know about your brand and product. Who are you? Why did you make this? What’s in it for me? Why should I buy it? When consumers connect with a brand emotionally, they are more likely to purchase the product, repeat-buy and purchase other products in the brand’s assortment. You build trust through your story, and that goes a long way with the consumer. This is why the story needs to be authentic and real, and not fictional. But it does need to be phrased eloquently and strategically, so I recommend working with a copywriter on that.

Develop a full story which can be used on your website. The product package should feature a simplified version and call out the website where the consumer can learn more and dive in deeper into the brand. This is where the consumer should find the full story. It should not be overly lengthy, but it should encapsulate the whole picture.

From the full story, simplify and develop a shorter version that’s used on the package. This could be anywhere from a phrase, a sentence or a few sentences. Again, it depends on space. Some very small packages may not have any space at all. In that case include the website and, as with all packages, the look and feel should communicate the feeling of the story as well.

If you have a multi-paneled package such as a rectangular box, devote one panel such as the left side panel to the story. The right side panel—space allowing—needs to hold required FDA information, and the back should focus on the product.

For other packages, there are a couple approaches:

  1. Break out the product story/description as its own blurb and have that be the priority in the information hierarchy, then a secondary blurb containing the brand story.
  2. Combine the brand story and the product story/description into one blurb. This usually works best to lead with touching on the brand story, then quickly moving into the product story/description and close with a call to action.

And what exactly do you say in these stories? Here are some points to touch on (any or all):

Brand story (full):

  • Why you started the brand
  • Intent of the brand, its purpose and goals
  • What the brand stands for
  • What you promise to your consumers
  • How the brand enhances lives

Simplify your most important points above for the shortened version.

Product story:

  • Enticing description of the product
  • Why the product was developed
  • Focus on key ingredients
  • Any relevant product history (e.g., treasured family recipe)
  • How it’s different/unique or why it stands out
  • How the consumer will feel or be transformed after trying

These are basic guidelines. Feel free to add your own flavor and most of all, make it exciting!

Do you have any questions that I haven’t addressed here? Leave them in the comments below!


One thought on “Tell a Story with Food

  1. Linda Barnett

    THANKS SO MUCH Jenn, that just add so much flavor to my website & story behind all, that great advice. I will soon email you to look at my website. Thanks again

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