Tis’ the season for indulgence. How food can build your brand.

Food releases dopamine to the brain. Put simply, food makes us feel good. It’s hard to argue against science when the festive season is flooded with tasty foods and flavours.

The science of happiness figured out the compounds in certain foods that make us happy. Brands are the same. Each brand you interact with has been carefully crafted and composed to evoke certain emotions.

If food and brands are designed to do the same thing (make us feel good) what happens when you combine the power of both? Could food be your brand’s untapped superpower? Leading brands think so. Here’s how.

Feed your purpose

The food you choose to eat, serve to others, and even how you serve it, tells a story about who you are and what matters to you.

For example, the Doubletree hotel wants guests to feel comfortable, and checks in everyone with a freshly baked cookie. It may be a small gesture, but guests instantly associate Doubletree with comfort, service and care. All wrapped up in a perfect package of tasty warmth.

Patagonia, too, whose brand purpose is to ‘save our home planet’, provides employees with globally inspired, healthy meals made and sourced locally. Encouraged by the brand’s ambition of low waste, kitchen staff recycle ingredients for their meal planning, with leftovers offered to staff to take home.

Feed your passion

Passion is like fire. It might start small, with a single spark, but it grows as you feed it with inspiration and discovery. Food can keep passion burning bright, not only in what you eat but also where and when it is experienced.

Throughout the pandemic, Prudential saw sales drop. And with teams working from home, their weekly ritual of connecting over shared meals went the same way. To overcome this, the business organised virtual lunches, delivering food to homes complete with a conversation-starter card. Salespeople continued to enjoy lunches together, and their fires were fuelled once more.

And it’s no accident that Ikea locates its bistros near the check-outs. Filling the air with delicious smells can make paying less painful. The food acts as a small reward at the end of the shopping journey, helping customers finish on a positive note, reigniting loyalty and love for the brand as they leave.

Feed your perspective

Food and its rituals expands our worldview, causing us to pause, contemplate, and foster new ways of being.

Google uses food to facilitate ‘casual collisions’ that expand employee comfort zones and foster collaboration. In the New York headquarters, for example, (where no employee is more than 150 feet from food!) employees are encouraged to meet people they’ve not eaten with before. It’s a recipe for creativity and productivity.

And it’s hard to think of the Virgin brand without thinking of mischief. While most airlines take a dim view of theft, the unconventionally cheeky personality actually encourages it. Upper Class service travellers are greeted with the playfully designed salt and pepper shakers Wilbur and Orville. Shaped like mini planes, they are highly tempting to slip into one’s pocket. And when you return home you see, written clearly on the bottom, ‘pinched from Virgin Atlantic’.

Three questions to consider over food this holiday season:

  1. How could food clearly celebrate your brand’s purpose?
  2. How could you use food to stimulate the right kind of culture in your organisation?
  3. How could you design a service experience that said something wonderful about your brand?

At Landor & Fitch, we believe in branding and we believe in food. This festive season, give some thought to what happens when you combine the power of both.