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When Natural Is Not The Point

A few weeks ago I attended the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore for the first time in four years. What explosive growth! For every one new product in a category back then, there were eight or nine this year. It was ginormous.

While the growth in the number of natural products is just staggering, I was struck by how little progress they’ve made in branding themselves. They’re still relying on the expected codes and cues that say ‘natural’ but little else. Beige or natural background colors, green typography, visuals of “natural” things. It’s as if they’re afraid to stray too far from the expected ingredient functionality and tell a unique and compelling story. 

Luckily there are a few exceptions, like this nifty new cold-pressed coffee brand that immediately spoke to me of energy, modern attitude without having to scream ‘natural.’

With today’s consumers expecting and paying more for natural products (thank you Whole Foods) many natural brands are in play to be consumers’ everyday first choice. Competition is fierce and the stakes for winners and losers are getting higher than ever before. So now is the time for natural brands to bring their essence to life with compelling images and stories. When everyone has a natural ingredient or process, differentiation, preference and success will be driven by strength of the emotional connection between the brand and its consumer.