Plant-based companies are driven by passion, technology, and remarkable resilience. These ventures emerge from a genuine desire to positively impact the world by promoting plant-based alternatives.
The plant-based movement is gaining momentum as individuals and organizations unite from various backgrounds, all propelled by a shared goal: to end animal cruelty, promote ecological practices, and improve health. This collective movement encompasses not only individuals adopting a plant-based lifestyle, but also businesses and brands aligning themselves with these principles.
Within this growing movement, the role of branding becomes crucial. Effective branding can help transmit these values, inspire change, and capture the attention of current and future consumers.
And oh boy, these companies are doing a great job. The plant-based industry is leveraging branding strategies to create powerful narratives, design visually appealing packaging, and craft messaging that educates and motivates consumers. Through branding, the plant-based movement can amplify its message, foster community engagement, and ultimately contribute to a more compassionate, ethical, sustainable, and healthy world.
And if they can have fun and challenge their competitors while doing it, why wouldn’t they?
A great example is Oatly, the oat milk company hailing from Sweden which recently created a campaign displaying the carbon footprint of its products. They purchased premium advertising in The LA Times, New York Times, and large billboards in Times Square and Hollywood displaying their footprint on one side, offering their dairy competitors the other side of the billboard for free!
This striking move is a win-win for Oatly for two reasons: if their competitors dare to use that space, they will have to share their carbon footprint, which has been proven to be at least 3 times larger than that of plant-based milk. And if they decide to ignore the call, they will only strengthen Oatly’s campaign by proving their point.
Another amazing example comes from Chilean plant-based company NotCo, whose first product Not Mayo was released in 2017, and after only 8 months, they already took 8% of the Chilean mayonnaise market share. The company kept expanding through South America, Mexico, and the US, offering delicious products like plant-based milk, ice cream, and burgers, called Not Milk, Not Burger, and Not IceCream.
But the coolest part is that in April of 2023, the Milk Producer Association from Chile sued NotCo, claiming they were taking advantage of the perception people have of milk. Well, NotCo fired back with a campaign using excerpts from the lawsuit that said their products are made from vegetables, solidifying what they literally say in the name of the product!
Here’s what NotCo’s CEO and CMOs posted on LinkedIn:
Heura is a Spanish plant-based company that was created as a social mission-turned-business that would empower people to change the current food system to a more sustainable, healthy, and nutritious one.
In spring 2022, Heura created an intelligent campaign aimed at Catholics who refrain from eating meat on Good Friday. They displayed the message “Eat Meat This Good Friday” on the side of trams in Milan, reminding them that by choosing Heura, they wouldn’t have to miss out.
These examples serve as a testament to the transformative power of bold, creative, and fearless messaging. By embracing the potential of branding, these companies have successfully differentiated themselves, connected with their audiences, and built strong identities by daring to think differently and leveraging the many tools of branding.
This way, potential opportunities for success and recognition can be achieved in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, but this also requires some balls. Taking risks and being willing to challenge the strongest and largest corporations in the world with bold strategic thinking is crucial for standing out from the rest.
Ricardo Saca is the US and Mexico Managing Partner for Cato Brand Partners, a Global Design and Branding Consultancy. He is a Master in Branding from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has 20+ years of experience working with a wide range of companies, from startups to airlines. He is an animal lover and a plant-based cyclist.