Food for thought: Staying relevant when there’s so much choice

How some market leading brands are staying relevant when there’s so much competition.

These are tough times for many established brands. Even Coca-Cola, which has a (nearly) impenetrable consumer brand advantage, has reported a pinch in its soft drink sales.

In most cases, you can put the change in fortunes down to disruption. Never before have consumers had this much choice, with new incumbents flooding the market, turning heads and taking market share. Nowhere is this more evident than in the FMCG sector where many product categories have gone through unprecedented levels of disruption. Bain and Company are calling this period of change an “existential crisis in consumer goods”.

With so much choice available to consumers, it’s a matter of staying relevant. Doing nothing isn’t an option.

So, how does an FMCG brand stay relevant?

Instagrammable visuals 

Häagen-Dazs recognised that it began to appear ‘unapproachable and unattainable’ among a key audience: millennials. As Marketing Week reports, the branding team swung into action before it was too late, working on a new, ‘Instagrammable’ visual identity. In other words, whether consumers have bought a tub from their local shop or stopped by one of Häagen-Dazs’s ice cream shops, they’ll want to shout about it on Instagram.

The modernisation of its brand came with the risk of alienating its existing customers, but to do nothing would underestimate this hugely lucrative new generation – millennials – who hold the key for brands for at least the next decade.

A large part of the new aesthetic is its revamped packaging, which the company describes as a modern take on “desire and emotion”. Gone is the swirling design and in its place is white space which helps bring the flavours to the fore. The brand’s signature burgundy shade remains in the logo and the lid.

Keep evolving

When somebody says Cadbury, you immediately picture the famous purple logo – in your head, the branding hasn’t changed much since you were a child. But the reality is that, while it’s kept a consistent brand, Cadbury has managed to stay relevant by making subtle design changes and evolutions – all the while paying homage to its traditions.

The lesson here is that staying relevant doesn’t mean ripping up the brand guidelines and starting again. But to listen to what your audience values about your brand and bringing those to the fore in a modern and interesting way.

Build a personal connection

The problem with becoming an iconic global brand is that you can lose some of the personal connection with customers. In the past, Häagen-Dazs hasn’t had to concern itself too much with this, reflected in its heavy focus on TV advertising. But, to engage a millennial audience, it knew it needed to create a personal connection – shifting the focus from mass communication to more one-to-one social strategies. Those social strategies involve influencer marketing and Häagen-Dazs-inspired recipes.


Ultimately, relevancy is in the eyes of your audience. Once they’ve started to stray, it can be very difficult to reclaim their focus. So move before it’s too late.

Is your brand in need of a refresh? Speak to Linney about how we can help you in the process of creative redesign and strategy.