Ingredient branding, or finding your Nemo (Landor Perspectives 2011)
Ever since the massive success of the Intel Inside initiative, the power and potential of ingredient branding has been well understood.1 As the name implies, ingredient branding means giving a component of a product its own brand identity. It can be a tantalizing proposition for those looking for new ways to differentiate. But ingredient branding is full of hidden dangers and often doesn't deliver the expected results. To understand some of these dangers, let's take a look at the animal kingdom and see what we can learn there. Nemo, the clown fish star of his own movie, represents the best case for ingredient branding, living as he does in symbiotic harmony in an anemone for the mutual benefit of both.
But for every clown fish, there are many more animals that are predators or parasites. Take, for example, the cuckoo. The cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds' nests and its demanding chicks often push out the host birds' eggs to get more attention and space. What's true of the animal kingdom turns out to be true in the world of ingredient branding. Many ingredient branding partnerships don't turn out well for both parties—there's usually a winner and a loser. The question for those determined to take the ingredient branding path is: Are there any clown fish out there and, if so, how do you find them?