Taking the Biscuit – Branding for Healthy Snacks

Alternative diets and an incoming wave of restrictions?! The snack market has transformed over the last few years, and it doesn’t appear to be settling anytime soon. On top of this, new advertising restrictions are on their way too. Here we take a deep dive into one of our nation’s most-loved snacks, the (not so) humble biscuit, and best practices for branding healthy snacks.

1. The History of the Biscuit

Biscuits are one of the most widely consumed snacks in the UK. These buttery, crumbly treats have a surprisingly long history behind them, being present in the rations of Roman soldiers. These versions however were closer to savoury rusks or simply bread baked again. In fact, this twice-baking is where the name originates; the Latin term ‘panis biscoctus’ (bread twice-cooked) eventually became the French ‘biscuit’ which was adopted into English.

Health associations with biscuits also have a long history. In Tudor times, biscuit-like confectionaries made with wine, egg whites and plenty of sugar supposedly had medicinal qualities. Of course, such sugar-rich foods were limited to the rich. As sugar became more accessible and French and Italian influences came into British cooking, the focus of biscuits turned more to flavour and pleasure.

One of the most well-known biscuits – the Digestive Biscuit – was first mentioned in 1829. Like many adverts of the period, these crunchy discs supposedly cured everything from bad digestion to typhoid and scarlet fever. But with McVitie’s creating their own version these too became more of a tasty snack than a cure-all.

2. A Health Challenge

Today, biscuits are still a delicious treat (especially with a cup of tea) and there’s nothing wrong with that! But as our lifestyles get busier, we find ourselves turning to smaller meals and snacks over three big meals. This means that many of us are searching for healthier, more nutritious ways to snack, and the healthy biscuit industry is booming.

There’s also been an increase in demand for ready-to-eat snacks for those with dietary requirements, be it gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, low-sugar, allergen free, and others. This is a challenge for healthy biscuit brands to meet, but also provides great opportunity to create happy, loyal customers.

This comes alongside new restrictions for advertising for HFSS (high in fat, salt, and sugar) foods on TV and on in-store promotions and placement. On one hand this poses a risk and challenge to more indulgent snack brands, as they test different promotion methods. On the other hand, this opens up an advantageous market for more nutritionally-conscious snacks.

While there will always be a place for richer snacks alongside healthier alternatives, many are pushing to develop non-HFSS lines alongside new competitor brands in the healthy snack market. With all that said, what is the best way to cut through the noise and create a great branding for your healthy snacks? And how can your branding show off your products’ health benefits while still being appealing to hungry customers? Let’s take a look at some best practices…

3. What’s your brand bringing to the table?

Before diving into the creation of a brand and all of its visual assets, a brand needs to know what it actually is. Below are three foundational things that a healthy snack brand should have figured out before creating its image:

1. What is your brand and its core values?

The most important part of any brand is knowing what product it’s selling, and what its core values are. It’s all well and good aiming to put a new healthy snack out there, but without a ‘why’ brands can be left without much direction or meaningful motivation. Does your brand want to help people lower their sugar intake? Do you believe in the power of strength training and protein packing? Do you want to see more people able to access high quality, organic ingredients? Having a solid product and reason why that product should be on the market is essential for any brand to grow.

2. What separates your brand from the rest?

To enter a saturated market such as the world of biscuits, your brand will need a USP (unique selling point) that other competing brands don’t already provide. This doesn’t have to be something completely ground-breaking. A similar product but with more protein for the same calories, that is a vegan or allergen- free alternative to other brands or offers more eco-friendly packaging than other single-serving snacks are some examples of little differences with big impacts.

3. Who is your target audience?

A brand always needs to consider its target audience before creating an image, as audiences’ needs will differ. Children’s snacks won’t need the same punchy, identity (or products) as something designed for gym folk bulking up. More than a visual identity though, your audience will determine the messaging you use. Are you aiming for girl-bosses on the go looking for a light snack, or tired stay-at-home dads looking for something that’s ‘not a biscuit’? Whoever your audience is, your messaging will need to speak to a need they share.

4. Branding for Healthy Snacks

So now you have an idea of what your brand is and where it stands in the market, you can begin to create a visual image. Here are some essentials to think about:

1. Visual language. Having a great logo is important, as customers should be able to identify your brand easily (for snack brands, wordmarks often work best). The rest of your visual language should also be coherent. Not only should it tie into your logo, but it should also represent your brands core values and USP.

A great example is ‘That’s It’ fruit bars, with their simple, clean packaging design. Using real fruits as the main, colourful imagery highlights that there’s no other stuff in the bars.

Image belongs to That’s it.

2. Show and tell. Just saying what your values are won’t be enough for savvy shoppers. Brands should show their values with their branding design, relating it back to their target audience. Further than this though, brands should show their commitment to their values in their actions. Whether it’s donating to causes, creating better production methods, or helping communities, actions really do speak louder than logos.

Snack brand Regrained solve a real issue by upcycling spent grains from the beer brewing process into great products. They’re transparent about their process, and about their journey to eco-friendly packaging.

Image belongs to ReGrained

3. Keep it fun. Unless your target audience is hardened ‘wellness’ types or the gym obsessed, people will be looking for fun, tasty snacks. More nutritious doesn’t have to mean boring. If anything, snacks packed with fruit, veggies, and good stuff are usually more colourful than their beige counterparts. Find ways to make your branding appealing and inviting, even beyond the packaging. What stuff can you do that will really excite your audience?

Perkier’s packaging is bright, bold, and simply visually fun to look at. But beyond their packaging, they bring fun and excitement into all of their communications, showing people that healthier (and vegan!) snacks don’t have to mean giving up on happiness.

Image belongs to Perkier Foods Ltd

5. Wrapping It Up

Now that we’ve seen there’s a push for more nutritional, non-HFSS snack brands to come onto the market, we know there’ll be more brands to fill that space. If these brands have a strong sense of what their product is and why they’re selling it, as well as clear visual and actionable messaging, they’ll be set up to satisfy hunger across the UK.

This doesn’t mean that we have to kick out our traditional biscuits of course. But giving people more options for healthy snacks means we always have something to nibble with a cup of tea. With effective branding for healthy snacks, they can be just as enticing as a traditional biscuit.

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The History of the Biscuit

Biscuits Revealed as Britain’s Favourite Snack

A Growing Market for Healthy Biscuits

New Advertising Restrictions for HFSS Foods

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