As a self-proclaimed snack expert (or snackspert for short) I was delighted to cover the juicy details of snack branding. Sweet, salty, savory, crunchy—I’ve tasted them all! And it’s no wonder; as the Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking found that 91% of consumers in the survey say they snack at least once a day. “Snacking connects consumers globally,” says James Russo, senior vice president at Nielsen, “Big as snacking is today, it’s only going to get bigger.”

So if you are starting your snack business or want to up your snack branding game, grab your bag of chips and read on while we go over the importance of building a scrumptious snack brand that will help you stand out from your competitors.

a woman in a laptop screen eating doughnuts with social media in the background and other snacks floating around
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Opening the bag to snack branding

The industry of snacks is just as full as my kitchen cabinet, with all sorts of brands fighting for attention. Having a very specific branding will help your snack jump to the front and center of the grocery store shelf. Key branding assets like an iconic logo, bold packaging and specific brand messaging combined with tactful design elements like color and typography help your snacks get put in shopping bags again and again.

Defining your brand

First of all, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you as a company and what are your values? Your company’s values and decisions should be part of your brand’s messaging and can help attract customers. For example, millennials are paying keen attention to what all brands are doing in regards to everything from causes and community support to added ingredients and manufacturing.
  • What separates you from the competition? This is also known as your value proposition. Are you the tastiest option for vegan gluten-free bagel bites? Determine your most scrumptious feature and put that front and center!
  • Who is your target market or customer? Who’s tasting the treats and chomping the chips? What are their demographics? What do they like, how do they want to be related to? Branding is tailored to your target customers, so the more you understand them, the better. The branding for a snack in a child’s lunch box and the treats at your office holiday party would undoubtedly have different packaging, color schemes and marketing messages. Unless Boss Baby is throwing the party, then who knows!
Hawaiian fruit jellies packaging
The packaging for these fruit jellies from Hawaii is delectable enough to eat by Pepper Pack Design

Developing your brand identity

An important part of generating appetite for snack brands is creating a succulent brand identity. Your brand identity includes several important stylistic choices for snack-tastic branding, such as your brand color palette, typography, logo, general imagery, brand voice and overall personality.

Probably one of the most important aspects of snack brands is your logo since it will be prominently featured on each package and important for building your brand identity. Your logo also anchors everything your company represents.

Poppin’ popcorn logo and packaging design
Poppin’ popcorn logo and packaging design by rbdo®
Balaji chips logo and packaging design
Corn chip logo and packaging design by canyones

Your website should also reflect your brand identity. Consistency of your brand identity across all your platforms and elements of your business and product is key to reinforcing how your brand is seen by your audience and potential customers.

Healthy snack brand website design
Healthy snack website design by Aiman Nabhan

Knowing your audience and market

When it comes to snack preferences, different markets and audiences have different tastes. Americans snack on chips more than anything else, so it makes sense that the top attribute that Americans seek is “salty and savory” snacks. In 2020, salty snacks reported 9.4% growth in earnings according to IRI’s quarterly report of retail sales for the US snacking market. The top snack for Europeans is fruit, followed closely by chocolate and cheese.

Some factors that contribute to different brand trends are geography or age. Many of the brand identity tips such as defining your brand and consistent design elements work across the board and around the world, but in different countries some of the trends can vary.

For example, Asian snacks are known for having bright, fun and colorful packaging, often with cute characters and often include more unique flavors.

A selection of Umaibo snacks
Umaibo is a favorite Japanese snack consisting of individually wrapped corn puffs which come in dozens of flavors via Japan Talk

Even the global brand Kit Kat, producers of the chocolate covered wafer that you find on American shelves, have more than 300 limited-edition seasonal and regional flavors in Japan, including green tea, maple, lemon cheesecake and baked potato!

Kit Kat flavors
Kit Kat produces hundreds of unique flavors that are only available in Japan via Love & Olive Oil

Age also plays into marketing to your ideal customer. If your target audience is younger, generally these snack brands use bold colors and often have friendly mascots or tie in to popular media trends. For example, Monster Munch (UK snack) or Mamee Monster (Malaysian snack) are both chips directly marketed toward kids, featuring a friendly yet silly monster on the front with a bright colored background to attract the eye.

six packages for mamee monster
Malaysian kid favorite Mamee Monster via Mamee Monster
Monster Munch
UK kid favorite Monster Munch via Monster Munch

Communicating with your audience

Now that you have your brand identity and know your audience, you have to communicate with your audience and build your brand awareness. An engaging brand voice will help you connect with potential customers through marketing efforts on social media or targeted ads.

These days brands aren’t just their products, they’re also about how they interact with people on social media. It’s a great way to showcase your brand voice and engage directly with folks in your specific niche market.

Pop Tarts twitter
Pop Tarts uses twitter to post funny banter and engage with their fans via Pop Tarts

Keep in mind how the branding decisions will combine both your company’s style and values and what your customers will find appetizing. This could mean communicating that your brand is healthy, gluten-free, organic or just a fun, tasty snack. It can even be sharing your brand’s story.

Magic pop snack brand brown rice chips
Healthy grain snack flyer design by Shejal
Taking the pea snack brand
Attention grabbing snack brand flyer design by Shejal

Key ingredients for snack branding design

Stylistic elements will help define your brand identity. What colors are the most captivating? Do hungry customers respond better to circles or squares? Certain choices work better than others for snack brands and reaching the right customers.

Late July flavors
Late July ensures strong and clear branding elements, but differentiates the flavors with a variety of bold colored bags via Late July

Colors

Generally speaking, warm colors like red and yellow are most effective for food branding, especially since, according to color theory, red is the best for inciting hunger. However, other colors have certain associations. Blue, for instance, has links to trust and community, whereas green is a popular for natural and organic brands. Consider how the color choices will look on your packaging and what impact it will have.

Three bags of chips in the colors yellow, blue and green
Colorful bags of chips by we are hive
Cookies in a red bag
This red bag of cookies will get your mouth watering by cynemes
Onion rings in a blue bag
These onion rings must have a very loyal base of snackers by Anton Danilov

Shapes

Shapes can help define a brand’s personality. Using circles or curved shapes in your logo or branding elements is seen as casual or inviting. If you’d like your snack branding to appear more reliable or effective, use more rectangular shapes or straight lines in your visual elements. Along with colors, shapes can say a lot about your brand identity and personality.

Logo for pregnant mom snack
The use of a circle in the logo creates a welcoming feeling for pregnant snackers by bayuRIP
Gluten free cereal
This elegant, health conscious design uses lines and angles to give the impression of reliability by Advant7

A more approachable or friendly brand, like one with a younger target audience, might use more circles and curves. More high-end snacks, like for dinner parties or to establish reliability and trustworthiness, might use rectangular or triangular shapes or sharp angles in their logo.

Typography

Your choice of font should reflect your brand’s personality. Whether formal or friendly, lively or delicate, your font will help express it. Big bold fonts might reflect the bold flavor of your snacks, whereas a healthy snack might have a more subdued font. Kettle Chips, for example, gives the impression of a more mature snack brand with their bold stylized typography. Consider your target audience and how your font will get the message to them.

Kettle Chip’s calligraphy logo
In 2015 Kettle Chips got a new look for their their already established and well-loved brand via Girvin
Kensi’s Krumbs cookie logo
If you can’t tell by the younge mascot, the youthful font should give away the intended target consumer by Visunu
Red popcorn bag
The red bag and vintage font gives this brand a trusted choice for the mature snacker by Holiday26

Packaging

When it comes to snack branding, your choice in product packaging can have the power to attract (or deter) customers. Well-designed packaging should be unique, iconic and visually delicious. Often brands use top-notch food photographers to deliver their tasty message.

Snack packaging includes space to help creatively express your brand promise, but beware of including too many design elements that would fight for attention. Especially with “healthy snacks” it’s best to simplify messages like organic, non-gmo, gluten-free and vegan down to the bare essentials.

As June Hope De La Mora, a natural products brand strategist at The Movitz Group says, “a menagerie of ingredient certifications is akin to over accessorizing. Learn what attributes are important to your target consumer, allow those to shine, and contain the rest.”

Cheese crisp packaging
Cheese snack packaging design by lliiaa

It stands to mention that you’ll need to consider the purpose the packaging will need to serve. Does it have to keep the food soft or crunchy? Does it have to stand up to refrigeration or microwave? Most chips come in easy-to-open bags, whereas candy or protein bars come in a form-fitting wrapper.

Elegant boxes of crackers and cookies are traditional for artisanal snacks. You might consider a unique shape for your container that would make it stand out from the crowd. The Pringles packaging is both iconic and ingenious for keeping the chips from crumbling, and of course is the inspiration for their jingle “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop!”

chip can packaging
A fun and sophisticated chip packaging design by Sonia Maggi
Indian snack packaging
You might consider the variety of ways your snack brand can be packaged, for grab and go treats or a bag to share by Holiday26
Sauce packaging
More liquid products, like these dipping sauces, yogurts or smoothies, should consider packaging that is easy to open to drink or pour by CK Graphic

Dipping into the industry of snack branding

Snacks are a growing industry, generally due to the trend of substituting snacks for meals. According to a 2015 survey, 30% of UK consumers snack because it’s easier than preparing meals and 18% said they eat snacks due to their “on the go” lifestyle.

Healthy snacks are particularly attractive to the on-the-go crowd, which accounts for their increasing trend. Many in the food industry have already responded by producing more snacks with proven health benefits such as superfoods, all natural and organic, or high in fibre and protein ingredients.

Among the emerging industries to watch in 2021, you’ll notice mushrooms are on the rise as a health and wellness food product, so there is no doubt that mushrooms will be a rising star in healthy snacks too.

Healthy hand-drawn packaging
A very sweet hand-drawn package style for a healthy food snack by P.D.S.
Sweet potato chips packaging
Healthy chips packaging by Holiday26
Healthy superfood snacks
A fun superfood snack packaging by Obacht
Better! Snacks in Okra, mushroom and fruit & veg flavours
Fun and vibrant packaging by Holiday26

Wrap up

These bite-sized tips from your friendly snackspert are a good place to help you with snack design ideas and what might work well for your audience. With a spicy logo, mouth-watering packaging and tasty brand messaging you are sure to create a strong brand for your snack company.

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