Third Generation Packaging of the Counter Culture

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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.

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About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.