Rob Walker’s Consumed column in the New York Times Magazine today looks at a youthful company trying to bring new meaning to a crusty old word.
One of the sturdy clichés of contemporary brand-building is the importance of avoiding an image that’s too “crunchy” or, worse, too “granola-y.” That’s particularly true — and maybe particularly challenging — for businesses that want to transcend green or health-conscious consumer niches. But it’s really challenging if what you’re selling is, in point of fact, granola.
The founders of Bear Naked were conscious of this when they started selling their product in 2002. It was “an enormous issue,” Brendan Synnott says, and for the first two and half years of the brand’s existence, he and Kelly Flatley didn’t even put the word on their packaging. “I used to hate being called granola,” he says. “You hear ‘granola,’ and you think hairy legs and Birkenstocks. That was the reputation.”
Bear Naked’s mass market strategy appears to be working–it is the top-selling granola brand in natural-foods stores and the No. 2 branded manufacturer in conventional stores, including places like Target and Costco.