Create a new food brand – from initial product development to final packaging design and digital experience – that encompasses a line of marinades and cooking sauces inspired by Filipino cooking for mainstream North American consumers.
Our client has a successful history as distributor of ethnic foods to grocery chains across Canada. In keeping with their overall corporate objectives, they wished to launch their own consumer brand as a key addition to their assets. Other than that broad objective, we had a wide-open mandate to create a viable brand. Working closely with our marketing partner, we determined the criteria of success, along with pro forma projections, to establish a proper business foundation for development and roll-out.
We recognized that to achieve success, the new brand must be relevant to consumers beyond the ethnic communities. It was an opportunity to connect with a wider audience and introduce Philippine cuisine to the general populace. Here was a chance for others to discover the vibrant Filipino culture and character through its food. It was also an opportunity to reinvigorate the ethnic food aisles in grocery stores that have long been dominated by Chinese, Thai and Japanese products. In effect, the new brand can create a new product category – Filipino foods tailored to North American taste – a potential white space for market innovation.
We developed a brand strategy that celebrated the regional diversity of Filipino cooking, a legacy of the country’s 7000-plus islands as cultural crossroad. In-depth consumer and category research helped us craft a compelling narrative that all brand components can draw from to ensure storytelling continuity across different requirements.
As part of the research we conducted, we held behavioral-probing interviews with target consumers to understand some of their values and purchasing motivations. We devised a profile of an early adopter, someone who could be an advocate for the brand within her social circles. We also developed profiles of mainstream users who will make up the majority of the brand’s loyalists. Using those profiles as a guide, we formed the parameters that would inform the creation and evolution of the new brand.
We chose the Filipino word, pulo, meaning island, as the brand name to underscore the concept of the 7000-plus islands. Each product represented a different island and introduced the foreign locale to attract consumers who have a love for travel or a taste for culinary discoveries.
To reinforce the motif of islands and strengthen the brand’s role as the ambassador of Filipino culture, we created an icon that evoked water reflections of a stylized flower, which could also be interpreted as a setting sun. The organic letterforms in the brand identity were inspired by the contours of nature in the tropics. Each piece of visual communication encouraged a sense of exploration, as well as reiterating the taste appeal of the ingredients and recipes.
The recipes were formulated and refined through a series of taste tests to reflect the distinctive cultural character of each sauce and marinade. We carefully matched exotic ingredients with more familiar ones to offer consumers a reassuring base for exploring the new cuisine.
We devised an outer wrap to better communicate ingredient and recipe information, along with interesting anecdotes and facts to convey the important social dimension meals have in Filipino culture with its keen love for food. Value cues were incorporated into the wrap, such as spot embossing, to suggest quality and attention to detail. Working with our printing and co-packing partners, we refined and honed the packaging components – adjusting die lines, substrate specifications and artwork – to ensure a problem-free production process.
Subsequent marketing collateral for the trades and the consumer online experience elaborated on the brand story, continuing to reveal more deeply the culinary and cultural traditions of the Philippines.
Reception of Pulo by national and regional retailers have been overwhelmingly positive, both in mainstream and natural-foods grocery channels. Pulo won the Canadian Grand Prix as one of the year’s most innovative brands. Trial sales have exceeded our client’s expectations, with the products selling out very quickly at all locations, prompting them to accelerate the international roll-out plan for Pulo’s introduction into the US.