Branding a commodity with storytelling.

I admit it, “storytelling” has become a clichéd marketing term. But here’s a case study where storytelling was the appropriate choice to help brand a commodity product.

There was a family owned seafood company in the north east where the owners had a deep knowledge for fishing, processing, and supplying top quality lobster. Their good reputation was a result of their deep expertise in this segment of the seafood industry. 

However, their “DIY” approach to branding and package design did not rise to the high-level quality of the lobster products that they brought to the marketplace.

This regionally successful seafood company was eventually acquired by a large multinational seafood company. The new ownership decided that this was a good time to update the branding—which was dated and somewhat generic—to something more meaningful.

How do you brand a commodity product?
To position a commodity product in a way that is memorable and ownable, it seemed right to build a story around the brand. 

Before we began any actual packaging design, we worked with the key stakeholders to understand the audience, and where and how this product is sold.

Some of what we learned is that these products are mainly sold to club stores, as well as to foodservice professionals. So, the customers consisted of the novice to the experienced seafood buyer.

Now that this company was part of a larger seafood company, there were more stakeholders and more opinions expressed than usual. So, we gathered the key decisionmakers and presented the case for
branding through storytelling.

How do you present a case for storytelling?
We first presented mood/style boards, to help the client visualize the case for storytelling. It’s a common tendency in the seafood industry to fall back on traditional imagery of fishing boats and fishermen, but
we knew that there could be a way present a product that is steeped in tradition without images of old fishmongers, anchors, and fishing gear. We also had to keep in mind that the price point of lobster is
typically higher than most seafood products. Which makes this an upscale product.

The mood boards contained a range of imagery from the traditional to the nostalgic. Which lead us to a nostalgic approach based on the region where this product was caught and processed. 

A lobster roll is a traditional favorite sold at roadside lobster shacks. We then created a series of illustrations to tell a story of family road trips up the East Coast, where stopping at a roadside lobster shack is a fond memory. Even if you’ve never been to the Eastern Seaboard, the perception is fresh lobster from local fishermen. The package design is inspired by the rustic signage from the roadside destinations. 

An increase in sales resulted as the refreshed branding rolled out to retail chains, club stores, and foodservice distributors.

Illustration: Dan Cosgrove    Photography: Jon Edwards

If you are looking for help to tell your brand’s story we’d love to start a conversation. Contact us at: 310-489-8446,