If any branded package design could be considered perfect, what would it be? For exhibit number two, I offer the banana. America’s third most popular fruit in total sales after berries and apples, bananas comes with their own wrapper, a wrapper that is 100% compostable. Bananas are merchandised in high traffic areas and cross-promoted almost everywhere, from the cereal aisle to the deli department to the front door and check-out aisles. Though the banana is not top in fresh fruit sales, it sells everywhere. Looking for an edge in banana sales, the top three banana producers worldwide – Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte – developed a simple, enduring strategy to differentiate their commodity agricultural product: add a sticker.
What do you think of when you think of a banana? If you are of a certain age, you likely easily recall Miss Chiquita. Developed in 1944, a drawing of Miss Chiquita along with the name Chiquita adorned every hand-placed sticker on every banana shipped by the United Fruit Company since 1963. Miss Chiquita as a brand image continued to ascend and the company renamed itself Chiquita Brands International in 1990.
Perhaps better known for pineapples than bananas, Dole works hard to differentiate its bananas in the European marketplace through a dedicated effort to share its transparent farming practices of both its organic and conventional bananas. Its brand image, a sun radiating out of the “O” in DOLE, is on the sticker but, perhaps more importantly in the European market, so is a five-digit code. Enter the code on their website to find out which farm the fruit came from its farming practices.
Del Monte, the third largest banana distributor in the US by sales, grew up along with the California fresh produce industry. Though the name Del Monte was originally used for packaging coffee sold to the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey, California, the company soon used the brand name to adorn canned peaches. Its brand, a red, heart-shaped seal surrounded by bands of green and gold, now includes the word “Quality.” Though Del Monte does not appear to offer organic bananas, the company has taken significant steps to reduce its environmental footprint.
The banana does not need a retail package – its sunny color and ease of use (it even has its own handle) market themselves. But saavy marketers at top American banana distributors have effectively used a small sticker to communicate brand values and generate awareness that has endured for over a century. This tiny piece of fruit-based real estate effectively delivers the brand message. As an element of branded package design, this one is a beauty.