A sweet swirl of flavor & strategy
Product naming typically involves hard decisions between corporate objectives and customer appeal. Renaming tends to come only after careful consideration of the equity that’s lost along with an abandoned name.
Enter Ben & Jerry’s. It’s finding ways to have its cake and eat it too by introducing new flavor names that both delight customers and serve business interests at the same time. Its latest genius move has been the “renaming” of Chocolate Fudge Brownie to “Food Fight! Fudge Brownie” in support of the Vermont Food Fight initiative, which has been working to defend a state law that requires labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in food.
The new name doesn’t confuse loyal customers because it retains the crucial words “Fudge Brownie.” It is also limited in scope: Ben & Jerry’s is only renaming the flavor in its company-owned stores in Vermont. (In grocery stores you’ll still see regular old “Chocolate Fudge Brownie.”)
So why go to all the trouble of “renaming” if the rollout is so limited? By announcing a renaming and donating a portion of its proceeds, Ben and Jerry’s draws attention to its larger corporate initiative to remove GMOs from all of its ice cream.
Not only is this a great cause, it’s one perfectly aligned with the Ben & Jerry’s brand. We expect it to be about purity and homespun quality. Customers like being reminded that their ice cream comes from Vermont. And it puts some much-needed distance between Ben and Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever (which actually spent $450,000 working against GMO labeling in California). The fact that the new flavor sounds more fun than ever is the cherry on top.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Ben and Jerry’s has found naming nirvana: It has co-branded with a sense of humor (from “Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream” to “Lazy Sunday,” a new flavor named after an SNL sketch). Its new product line, “Core,” is a study in simple, irresistible branding.
The lesson here is that carefully crafted names can be both appealing and in line with corporate strategy. But it’s important to note that Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t try to say everything in its names. They whet your appetite, and leave it to you to discover that Hazed and Confused contains hazelnut ice cream. It’s not about cramming everything into a name but about selecting the top priorities that let you tell your story the right way.