Kellogg’s pushes boundaries of food product branding
File this under weird but compelling: The Telegraph in the UK is reporting that Kellogg’s will be testing new laser-etched Corn Flakes in selected markets. It’s very hard to tell how serious this is, and without a clear press release or better imagery, Beg to Differ wonders if it’s even real. But it got us thinking…
Branding problem / branding solution
This science-fiction-sounding technique might seem frivolous and wasteful on first pass (it did to us).
But when you think about it, the idea is actually very strong from a brand strategy perspective. Kellogg’s wants to help consumers distinguish between the “real / original” Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and all the other products called “corn flakes” that are so common around the world.
The branding problem here, of course, is a classic trademark case study. The name Kelloggs chose ,”Corn Flakes”, is about as plain and useful a name as you can imagine from a consumer perspective. But from a corporate perspective, Kellogg’s is now stuck with a name which is not considered trademark-able in most countries because it is a purely descriptive phrase. It would be like trying to trademark “apple pie”, “automobile”, or “battery”.
And if you look at the turn of the century ad to the right, you’ll see that this has been recognized as a problem since those first Toasted Corn Flakes were produced by accident by John Harvey Kellogg in a misguided attempt to quell sexual desires with dull food.
Notice the line:
“The original has this signature: W.K. Kellogg”
Later products like “Rice Krispies” were given much more distinctive names to fight this effect.
Burning it in
So really, if it works and isn’t a publicity stunt, this idea of imprinting the word “Kellogg’s” (which is trademarked) on the flakes is a smart way to show that the product in the bowl is different from all the others out there.
In essence, it’s no different from what Levi & Strauss did back in 1886 when they sewed the first branded leather patch on 501 jeans to scare away imitators.
We’ll see if this idea lasts as long.