Meet the Kiwi. The poster child of fruit branding.

If you’ve ever eaten a Kiwi, you know it’s a sensory experience:

Touch. Yikes. Brown and prickly. You’d never know there was a delicious, exotic fruit inside.
Taste. Amazing. Somewhere between a melon and a strawberry.
Smell. Nothing unusual. Kind of sweet.
Sight. Outside, not so great. Inside. Heaven. Bright, green, almost translucent with a halo of small black seeds.
Sound. I guess it thuds when you drop it.

But here’s what really makes it experiential: Clever product branding.
The Kiwi is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa. It’s a native of Shaanxi, China. Its real name is the Chinese Gooseberry. Ummm…not too appetizing, huh?

So how do we get people to fully embrace and experience the Kiwi’s tasty goodness?

Well first, get rid of the name. Who wants to eat a Chinese Gooseberry? That’s exactly what some produce marketers thought in the 1950s when they wanted to import them into Europe and the U.S. So they branded the fruit “the melonette.”

Okay, that kinda works. Inedible rind on the outside, sweet and juicy on the inside. But it didn’t do the branding job. People just couldn’t get past the little hairy mellonette to give it a try.

The trick was to make the homely little berry cute and exotic. Let’s see. Small. Hairy. Like the flightless Kiwi Bird of New Zealand. That’s it! People can embrace that! They can finally be open to the total Kiwi experience! And the rest is history.

Of course, the Kiwi has little to do with New Zealand. Yeah, they grow a few. So does China. But the biggest exporter is Italy.

So what’s the little branding lesson here?

First, always start with the five senses because they’re powerful human touchpoints. Try to make as many work in your favor as possible.

Second, craft a brand name and brand story that captures the imagination and connects on an emotional level.

Gotta go—making fruit salad tonight with some nice Chinese Gooseberries. Maybe I’ll throw in some Wonderful® Halos™ – also known as California-grown mandarins.

Michael Friend

Author Michael Friend

Michael is the founder and Chief Branding Officer of Experra Branding Group, LLC, a brand consultancy that works exclusively with printing, imaging, product identification, converting and substrate technology companies to deliver short-term results and long-term value. He’s a brand strategist, business consultant and creative director with a passion for helping his global enterprise clients leverage the power of branding to crystallize corporate positioning, launch differentiated products, improve business processes and increase sales.

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