Brands We Admire: Prepared Foods

When it comes to branding for prepared foods, “taste” is a funny word.

Typically, we like brands because we enjoy their product. Once you’ve sampled the product, it’s difficult to distinguish between the way it looks on the shelf and the experience of eating it.

That’s why, for so many prepared food brands, food itself gets the spotlight. It’s simple: Boxes of macaroni and cheese feature pictures of macaroni and cheese. Cans of beans display, well, beans. And why not? It’s Marketing 101 to call attention to the product.

But when faced with a growing number of choices and no wallet—or stomach—room to try them all, how does a consumer decide which beans are the beaniest? As the world becomes further globalized, and manufacturers introduce more and more once-exotic varieties of food to consumers, marketing plays a greater role in consumer preference. We’re no longer only attracted to the familiar, but instead the healthy, the modern, the inventive. Gone are the days of “Just like Mom Used to Make”.

So we wanted to call attention to a few of the cans, boxes, bottles, and jars that exemplify winning brand strategy for prepared foods… and taste pretty good too.


VISO is one of our city’s best kept secrets. Portland’s answer to sports and energy drinks is a line of organic fruit juice- and tea-based beverages that eschews its competitors’ Xtremer-is-better approach to branding. Instead, VISO feels like a drink made for human consumption. So long as we can’t do anything about our caffeine addiction, we’d at least like a clean source of energy, and VISO leads us to believe it has the answer. Too bad you can’t get it anywhere else…

Clif Bar

Clif Bar & Company has been around for more than twenty years and its flagship product has yet to go out of style. The Clif Bar is a convenience store staple, and for good reason: It’s one of the only energy bars that tastes like food, without quotation marks. It’s no surprise their newer, more niche product offerings—including energy gels and blocks—are catching on with the active crowd; Clif’s commitment to being upfront about its ingredients remains fresh to this day.


Is there anything Amy’s Kitchen doesn’t make? The brand, known for its organic canned and frozen foods, seems to come up with a new product every month—with a special focus on meeting its customers’ dietary requirements, whether they be vegetarian, organic, or GMO-free. From lasagna to pocket sandwiches to candy bars, Amy’s is quietly revolutionizing the frozen food aisle with a product-first approach that leaves everyone happy.

Peanut Butter & Co

In case it wasn’t clear from the name (or the URL), Peanut Butter & Co is a company built by peanut butter lovers. But though its brand identity is built around the classic American spread, PB & Co isn’t afraid to mess with its product. Where else can you get peanut butter in cinnamon raisin or dark chocolate varieties? Peanut Butter & Co is an example of a brand that knows how to deliver a quality food experience without avoid taking itself too seriously. Case in point: the Nutropolitan Museum of Art


No one is immune to Folgers’ tearjerker commercials during the Holidays—yes, even cynical marketing types like us. For years, Folgers has stuck with a brand formula built around a simple idea: the morning cup of coffee. That formula continues to work because Folgers does it best. (Not to mention that damned jingle.)

Those are some of our favorite prepared food brands. Now tell us yours. Share which prepared foods do you refuse to live without, and which ones you just can’t stomach, in the comments.

Post Date
January 29, 2013
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