by Lisa Cork
CEO, Fresh Produce Marketing Ltd.

People often ask me, “What’s the secret to creating a great brand?” Having created a few great brands over my career (Eat Smart®, Wild About Fruit®, Love! Kumara®, Avovita™, Born Pure™ and Winter Sweetz™ Texas grapefruit to name a few), I put it down to three things. You have to:

  1. Find your unique ‘story’.
  2. Find your consumer-centric proposition.
  3. Use and apply ‘trend’ thinking to give you a competitive edge.

You see, creating a great brand involves more than getting your nephew, who is studying graphic design, to make up a name and logo. Creating a great brand is a strategic AND creative process. It takes you and your business on a journey of discovery, revealing not only brand name options, but new strategic opportunities for your business as well.

While I have always been a strategic brand developer (I created Apio Produce Sales’ innovative ‘Eat Smart’ brand back in 1992), my original business focus was fresh produce marketing. But like many of your businesses, my business has evolved over the past decade and today, 99% of my work involves helping farmers, growers and healthy food companies develop high impact, consumer focussed brands and packaging.

So how does one go about creating a great brand?

I’ll share with you the process we use in the hopes of demystifying how brand development works.

A good analogy and one I use when I tell people what I do, is creating a great brand is like building WASGIJ puzzle. A WASGIJ, which is “jigsaw” spelled backwards, is an innovative puzzle concept in which the picture on the box is merely a clue for the puzzle you will be putting together. So unlike a traditional jigsaw puzzle, where the picture on the box gives you the answer, with a WASGIJ, you have to build the puzzle using only the clues. This perfectly describes how I create great brands.

In my business, I am the strategist. My role is to work closely with clients, ask hundreds of questions, do extensive background and trend research and probe for any and every untapped opportunity I can find. This process gives me the pieces of the puzzle I have to work with.

For clients, this questioning process, even before the brand development has started, has huge value. They find the process of answering my hundreds of questions gives them ‘a-ha’ moments as they see their business through fresh eyes.

Once I’ve done the deep-dive background research and asked the questions, I then process all of the information through what I call a ‘consumer-centric’ filter. Using this filter as my guide, I analyze the data, looking to see what fits together and creating a picture of the new opportunities available. Simply by seeing the information and insights in new ways, new thinking emerges. And in this new thinking, the client’s new brand and positioning strategy are revealed.

Once the strategic work is done, I bring in my team of experts. A copywriter helps with brand ideas and creating the brand story. A creative strategist helps bring the brand and story to life visually. A specialist packaging designer helps design high impact packaging that stands out on a crowded shelf, connects with consumers in a meaningful way and drives new sales or value growth opportunities.

The whole process is a bit like alchemy, a seemingly magical process of transformation or creation. But in truth, doing this work is my absolute passion and I love every minute of the challenge until the WASGIJ is solved and the client is happy.

Right now, there is a huge interest in food and the story of food.

Millennial consumers want to know, ‘whose hands are in the dirt.’ Given this increased interest, it is more important than ever to have a brand that talks to consumers and tells your story.

So consider the following in regards to your brand. Are you still using a grower or farm name? Do you have competitors who have innovated and are you feeling left behind? Want to do something innovative, but not sure where to start? If yes, then it could be time to determine whether a rebrand will deliver increased value to your business.

Finally, remember that great brands are more than just clever names and pretty pictures. Creating a great brand is a strategic process that balances a company’s vision, mission, goals, and products with consumer needs and wants, creating an opportunity sweet spot. And in this sweet spot, more sales, faster sell-through, new accounts and more revenue is generated.

About Lisa Cork…

Helping fresh produce companies create amazing brands and brand experiences in local and global markets

Lisa has been a passionate produce marketer her entire career. Fresh out of college, she made her mark on the industry sending ten tonnes of broccoli to a President and creating ‘Eat Smart’, the produce industry’s first consumer focused brand. A California girl by birth, a trip around the world saw Lisa move to New Zealand, where she now runs her bespoke brand strategy consultancy.

Today, Lisa combines her passion for produce with her passion for travel – giving her a truly international perspective on the industry. In her work with companies around the world, recent projects included managing a large New Zealand grower’s digital strategy roll-out in China, creating fresh juice branding and packaging for Asia and writing the brand strategy and developing the brand for an innovative Australian baby food range exported to Hong Kong.

Lisa is recognized in the industry as a thought leader on produce brand strategy. She holds both Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Marketing, writes for multiple industry publications, and speaks regularly at global conferences. Lisa also serves on the PMA Board of Directors.

 For more information, visit: