By Rachel Gladwin

Not every brand can become a Superbrand. And it takes particular attention to food and drink marketing and PR to make it into the top 20 consumer brands.

In this year’s Superbrands survey, only four of the table-topping consumer brands manufacture food and beverages.

So what were the big names in the fantastic four? As you’d expect, the manufacturers were global names – Coca-Cola, Heinz, Cadbury, and Haagen-Dazs.

The Superbrands survey uses careful analysis of consumer sentiment and business-to-business reputations to establish champions.

But what can the fantastic four tell us about what sets them apart from the competition?

Iconic design

There is no mistaking any of these brands for another’s product on the supermarket shelf. Heinz and Coca-Cola’s designs are so well-loved, you’ll find them on products from t-shirts to pencil cases.

That distinctive purple-blue wrapper makes Cadbury stand out in the confectionery aisle, while Haagen-Dazs’s clear, clean packaging gives it a touch of class among its chilly rivals.

The packaging of all four of these Superbrands is instantly recognisable, consistent across the brand and uncluttered. Making it easy for consumers to pick out your products means the product is doing a good chunk of the food and drink marketing itself.

Friend of the family

Your parents loved Heinz Tomato Soup. Their parents loved Heinz Tomato Soup. There’s a good chance you’ll love Heinz Tomato Soup. And if not, there’s Oxtail, Cream of Chicken … a whole host to choose from.

People have liked or loved the famous four’s products for generations. They trust them for taste and quality, they serve them to their family and they pass the love on.

For me, Heinz Tomato Soup is like a hug in a mug. It’s tied into my childhood, into the fabric of what makes me me. No amount of food and drink marketing and PR can achieve this. Word of mouth’s the winner here – because the words are coming from your loved one’s mouth.

The other three food and drink Superbrands have found a similar place in our hearts.

Carefully curated brand image

In the TV show Mad Men, Coca-Cola is the ultimate prize for the New York advertising men. It’s not just the value of the contract – it’s the kudos of being associated with a cool brand.

And let’s face it, Coke has pulled off enough advertising wins to fill a book, from inventing Santa Claus’s colour scheme, to the I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke singalong, to Coke Is It and the Diet Coke Man. It has never been less than cool, sugar tax or no sugar tax.

Haagen-Dazs has always kept itself classy. Its price point sets it apart from “lesser” ice creams, while its name gives it European cachet, even though it’s an American brand.

Heinz and Cadbury are no less stringent about consistency of image. They’re all about family, good times, comfort and quality. And they’re willing to listen to their customers, as they have done when bringing back products after online campaigns to save Wispa bars and Salad Cream.

All four deliver on what the customer expects. Inferior products do not a Superbrand make.

Legacy of success

History can be a burden or a bonus in food and drink marketing. It’s one thing to remain loyal to your past – it’s another to stand still. And none of the famous four can be accused of not moving with the times.

Haagen-Dazs is the baby of the bunch. It has only been in existence since 1961 and first reached UK shores in 1987. That’s still 31 years to build a trusted status. Kids have grown up and introduced their own children to the brand. Haagen-Dazs has had children of its own, continually evolving new flavours suited to modern tastes, such as this year’s Banana Peanut Butter Crunch and Midnight Cookies & Cream.

At the other end of the spectrum is Cadbury. Its history stretches back to 1824 but it has always moved with the times, catering to new tastes and creating innovative products, or bringing new twists to old favourites, such as Dairy Milk with Daim. But its adherence to that cursive font and its Dairy Milk colour scheme for its key products maintains that link to its history.

Heinz has been making sauces for 140 years, exporting tomato soup and baked beans to the UK since early last century. They kept making beans to fuel the war effort at their Harlesden factory in London despite the fact it was bombed by the Luftwaffe – twice. And they raised their game to meet the challenge of refrigerated “fresh” soups.

Coca-Cola has carefully crafted its cool over the 126 years of its existence. It has been a movie and TV star, cropping up in everything from King Kong and Bonnie and Clyde to Stranger Things and Doctor Strangelove. It has formed close associations with sport, sponsoring the likes of the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Despite the brands’ long histories, they have never been afraid to innovate and introduce new products.

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