Chobani, siggi’s take their branding beyond yogurt

Building a successful business in the consumer package goods industry requires more than just creating a product. CPG companies have to offer food and beverage items that shoppers want to consume under a brand that they believe in. From engaging brand fans to creating a brand message consumers want to get behind, companies must work to take their business beyond their food and beverage offerings.

Strong branding is vital for all CPG categories, including in the increasingly competitive yogurt market where new and established brands are constantly adding products to the mix. Yogurt companies have to go the extra mile to stand out in a crowded field, and branding is one way to achieve that.

For example, Greek yogurt giant Chobani has established itself as the market leader in its category, as well as its brand story as a company founded by Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya. It’s been about 12 years since Ulukaya began the process of transitioning Greek yogurt into the mainstream US market, and the son of goat and sheep herders has built his success on a brand whose name means shepherd.

“It’s a very beautiful word. It represents peace. And it meant a lot to me because, you know, I come from a life with shepherds and mountains and all that stuff,” Ulukaya told CBS News.

That attitude is apparent in the way he runs his business, which employs a mix of immigrants and refugees along with American citizens. Chobani employees hail from more than 19 different countries and include translators and those who provide transportation to workers without licenses, and the payoff has turned out to be a strong branded message to consumers and worker loyalty to the company, Ulukaya said.

Today, Chobani tops the US yogurt category in market share, according to Nielsen, and it’s not likely the privately-owned company would have gotten there without a strong foundation in its brand and its message.

But Chobani is not the only player in the yogurt market to make the most of the story behind its brand. We asked Siggi Hilmarsson, CEO of Icelandic yogurt brand siggi’s, about the brand culture at the company, which offers products that contain simple ingredients in more than 25,000 stores nationwide, and how it’s grown into what it is today:

Can you describe siggi's brand culture?

I would like to say we are a tight-knit, fun, passionate group. (We take our business very seriously but ourselves moderately so.)

How did siggi's brand culture develop into what it is today?

As we’ve grown, we have been very deliberate about maintaining our culture. Since the beginning, we’ve had a weekly family lunch and we still do today. As the team has grown, we’ve added some elements to keep the community close and to have fun together – weekly happy hour, quarterly potlucks and game nights, office yoga.

How do siggi's products reflect the company's brand culture?

We tend to be a pretty healthy bunch, just like our yogurt.

How does siggi's ensure that its employees represent its brand culture at every level?

We consider fit when we hire, but we challenge ourselves to add diversity as well. We look for good people and it just works.

From your experience with siggi's, what are the most important aspects of developing a strong brand culture?

Leadership and early employees set the example.

What advice would you give new brands working to establish a brand culture they believe in?

Choose a couple of things that you really, truly care about and focus hard on those. If you have too many focus areas, no matter how worthy all of them may be, it gets harder to rally everybody to the same cause, especially as grow and have more people onboard.

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