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Giving Natural Food Brands Mythic Power

Author: Liyo Josef
by Liyo Josef
Posted: Oct 06, 2015

What do "myths" have to do with effective branding? You’d think that a company that prides itself in ‘developing authentic brands" would not be dabbling in myth creation. But to those who take issue with his company’s name, founder David Bernard says, "You have not read your Joseph Cambell". Campell’s exploration of the role myths play in society influenced everyone from George Lucas to Richard Branson and countless college freshmen. Bernard sums it up this way. "The Myths are a powerful expression of the character and history of a culture. They are stories that hold enduring truths about who we are and what our values are. Isn’t that exactly what a good brand does"?

For over a decade, Mythmaker Creative Services has been helping food and beverage start- ups compete in the increasingly competitive Natural Grocery category. The boutique Santa Cruz, CA based LOHAS branding firm specializes exclusively on brand strategy and package design for premium, artisan and organic food and beverage products.

In the early 80’s and 90’s the Mythmaker team helped create the pioneering Odwalla brand. After Coca Cola bought the company in 2001, the tight-knit group left and started its own brand design company. The creative team took what it learned at Odwalla about the importance of authenticity, effective storytelling, and values-based positioning, and developed a process specifically aimed at helping companies engage with the LOHAS, (Life of health and Sustainability) consumer.

Mythmaker Branding & Design specializes in working with smaller companies looking to enter Whole Foods and other high-end retail grocery chains. Mythmaker’s clients also include larger companies, like Dole that want to capitalize on this fast growing segment. "We have a lot of experience talking to this type of consumer" Says Bernard. "Shoppers, who are willing to pay more for health and values benefits, demand a deeper narrative. The brand identity has to be engaging. But more important, the brand needs to be authentic".

Developing a natural food label design or a functional beverage label design for the LOHAS consumer requires specific skill sets and understanding that may not come into play for conventional grocery products that are more "me too" or competing on price point. A good share of the work Mythmaker does is centered on brand strategy consulting. Before a company embarks on developing a food or beverage brand, it has to first get very clear on its product positioning and strategic objectives. "There have been many times when clients have come to us with a not-so-good-idea and we’ve helped redefine it into a better opportunity based on our experience and understanding of the market place", Says Bernard.

Companies unfamiliar with the Natural segment also may not understand the intricacies of dealing with Whole Foods. The company has very specific demands of its producers, including limiting certain ingredients and sourcing requirements. For more on how to sell to Whole Foods, you can check out the Mythmaker Blog.

The Mythmaker team likes to say, "Good graphic design does not equal effective label design". An effective label for a food or beverage product requires clear strategic thinking. As the company founder puts it. "To develop a truly authentic, engaging brand you need poets and artists. But the poets and artists won’t be successful unless they have a clear road map based on real business objectives. That’s the difference between a branding firm and say, crowed sourced graphic design. Brand designers apply strategy based on category and consumer segment knowledge and data". Bernard encourages clients to look for cost effective graphic production solutions but adds. If you’re working on your budget, spend on the strategic piece first. If you don’t get that right it will certainly cost you more in the long run".

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Author: Liyo Josef
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Liyo Josef

Member since: Nov 18, 2013
Published articles: 1662

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