SHELF Food and Beverage Packaging Design Company
Food and Beverage Packaging Co.

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Chobani Rebrand - Leading From Strength

The most dramatic rebrand in the CPG category was the rebranding of Chobani. Chobani is a terrific example of a challenger brand that clearly differentiated itself from the leaders, built trust with the consumer and in turn took over the category. Honestly, it took a lot of guts for the Chobani team to evaluate themselves and say, “you know, we are the number one yogurt company in the world, but we aren’t good enough.” Our brand doesn’t reflect our true voice.

“It wasn’t so much just a packaging redesign, it was actually a rethink on the positioning of our company for future growth,” says Chobani’s Chief Creative Officer Leland Maschmeyer. “Most people do this when they’ve fallen behind or fallen out of relevance, so they tend to rebrand from a position of weakness which I think causes some hastily-made decisions or for people to not achieve what they could have from a position of confidence. The fact that we are in a leading position makes it the best time to do it. It’s much harder to build on your successes and stay in the lead than just coast on them and fall behind.”

And according to Maschmeyer, wellness was also the guiding force in the new packaging. While Chobani debuted a decade ago, it staked its identity on being organic and natural. Seeking to evoke those ideals in its new packaging, Maschmeyer and his team found themselves drawn to the folk art of the 1800s—“hand- painted artwork and color palettes that come from nature,” as he puts it. Chobani didn’t just scrap the white plastic, it got rid of its old typeface and block- style lettering in favor of a serif font that’s softer and heavy on the lower-case letters. Browns and off-whites predominate and, most noticeably, the fruit is rendered in a hand-painted style that actually celebrates the natural imperfections of fruit.

“When you have a strawberry [on the cup] that’s too perfect, it’s plastic,” Maschmeyer explains. “We’ve introduced these imperfections in our brand so it feels more real.”

It’s anyone’s guess how to measure specialness, but one thing’s clear: Chobani had to do something. While the $2 billion brand is still very healthy—it overtook General Mills’ Yoplait last year to become the No. 1 yogurt brand in America, and its topline growth for 2017 is up by double digits—Chobani’s ambitious plans come at a time when the yogurt category has soured a bit.

Sales of spoonable yogurt have slipped 4.4 percent since last year, according to Mintel data, and even the mighty Greek yogurt segment (one that Chobani rules with a 40 percent market share) just isn’t what it used to be.

We will see how the brand connects with customers over the next decade but we feel confident Chobani will continue to innovate and lead for years to come. 

Justin Johnson