The Vegan Branding Revolution
With Veganuary in full swing, Greggs’s new vegan sausage rolls dominating the headlines, and other big eateries such as McDonald’s and Pizza Hut now offering their own meat-and-dairy-free menu items, veganism has certainly found itself thrust into the spotlight of late.
So, in the spirit of things, we thought we’d put a plant-based twist on this week’s post. We’ll be looking at vegan branding, what (if anything) is different about it, and how it reflects the values of its target demographic.
The anti-corporate sentiment seems to be particularly strong amongst vegan brands. In most cases it’s by no means anarchistic or outwardly rebellious, it’s simply that many vegan products are inherently anti-corporate. This is because many of them specifically exist as a direct alternative to their less environmentally- and animal-friendly counterparts.
The way this anti-corporate undertone often manifests itself, design-wise, is with a handmade, naive, and sometimes rustic aesthetic. Darker, more autumnal colours tend to be used, alongside hand drawn visuals, which can culminate to give an intimate, grassroots vibe.
Please note: we’re by no means suggesting that the brands we feature in this post are anti-corporate, only that their brand design fits in with our idea of an anti-corporate aesthetic.
Oatly make a fine example of “anti-corporate” branding. We’ve talked about the general excellence of their branding before, which is, in some respects, completely antithetical to everything you would expect to see from a “big business brand”.
They’re quirky, unconventional, and somewhat unrefined. Sort of the opposite to a brand like Apple, but, in terms of appealing to their demographic, just as successful.
They also have a very clear and defined set of values, which appear to be genuine. And, ultimately, the impression this gives is that they really do care about what’s in the bottle, and not just their bottom line.
Being friendly seems to be a relatively new trend in the marketing world. Creating a brand that treats consumers as peers instead of, well, consumers, is a good way of getting people on board with your products.
It still can sometimes feel, however, a little false. After all, the words “friendly” and “multi-national corporation” don’t often go hand-in-hand.
This is where many vegan brands have an advantage. The very fact of their “vegan-ness” suggests (be it genuine or not) a certain level of authenticity. Because they’ve committed to selling products which, really, only people with a personal interest in a vegan lifestyle would care to produce (note here that we’re talking about vegan brands, and not just brands that sell one or two vegan products). They follow a sort of practise-what-you-preach model.
The design of these sort of products perfectly encapsulates the handmade, friendly aesthetic. It all looks hand drawn, giving the impression that it was designed in-house, possibly by the same person (or people) who made the oils. In other words, it’s easy to imagine, looking at those bottles, a company staffed by a handful of people.
There are many characteristics associated with “local” products. Grassroots, personal, passionate, friendly. Many vegan brands embody one or all of these characteristics, and likely it’s because many vegan brands are local.
Really, the characteristics we’ve talked about so far could be applied to lots of small local businesses, be they vegan or not. That’s because local businesses are, by and large, small. Often they’re run by a handful of dedicated individuals, and most of the time they really do care about the products they’re selling.
Take Uncaptive as an example, a North East-based fashion brand who also sell a small selection of zero waste products. The packaging design for their soap bars says “handmade and natural”, and the fact that the bar comes packaged in cardboard, without any plastic, making the whole thing eco-friendly, shows a commitment to that statement. The fact that they’re a small, local, business also adds to the overall appeal. They’ve positioned themselves as a conscientious, responsible, and environmentally-conscious alternative to big high street brands. And they’re practising what they preach.
Back to basics
The increasing popularity of this type of branding seems to imply a movement towards simplicity. It looks like more and more brands are trying to position themselves as friendly, amicable, and creative. And leading the way, it seems, are many small-scale vegan-friendly brands. Possibly because it’s easier to believe that they actually are friendly and amicable.
For more on branding, see The Most Popular Logos In Britain, And Why They’re So Successful, and The Innocent Genius Of Innocent Smoothies.