If you can brand garlic, then you can brand pretty much anything...

mrgarlicI have recently purchased a product which added value to my life immediately after (and especially during) its use: single clove garlic.

It is sometimes also referred to as Solo Garlic, or One Per Head garlic, or Pearl Garlic.1 Which is basically a small bulb-shaped funny garlic monster which grows only in one place – the Yunnan province in China. And it has ONLY ONE CLOVE.

You are probably visiting this blog to read about funky brands, so what does garlic have to do with 1) funky, and 2) branding, you may ask. The product is, please agree with me, quite funky. It is novel, and adds value immediately. The funky garlic has many advantages, such as:

  • You don’t have to mess around removing the skin of every little clove – just peel it off the round bulb, and go ahead chopping it up.

  • Which is easy to do – much easier than performing the same procedure on tiny “traditional” cloves.

  • You end up eating MORE garlic – a great benefit for your health, I suppose! There might be some breath-related issues arising, but if you chew a few celery leaves after your increased garlic consumption, I think you’ll be all set.

As far as branding goes, well, this kind of garlic doesn’t have a brand YET! Well, it has a name: in Delhaize it is called SunSolo, but I bet it's not very well known by consumers (just to clarify: a product name is NOT necessarily a brand, a product image and all associations related to it, IN THE MIND OF THE CONSUMER, are!) Let me show you that garlic CAN be branded.

Who should brand it?

First, who would have the benefits of creating a garlic brand? A good example is a supermarket, especially the more sophisticated kind which carries organic healthy foods. In the UK, I can imagine it would be something like Mark's and Spencer’s or Sainsbury's, in Belgium, maybe Delhaize (where I got the funky garlic), in the US, maybe Trader Joe’s (which already carries this product as well). The advantages of giving the funky garlic a bit of a personality are obvious for a healthy food supermarket: it’s a good way to excite its health-conscious customers, who are most certainly cash rich and time poor (or was it like that before the crisis?). They’ll for sure appreciate the time-saving advantage of the garlic!

As the single-clove garlic is really a specialty of Yunnan province in China, the local authorities also might want to develop it as an appellation of origin. Which is not threatening to supermarets. On the contrary, Delhaize could even work WITH the local government to get exclusivity of "genuine Yunnan pearl garlic" in Belgium.

Brand Name and Positioning

So, let’s say we’re Delhaize and we’ve got the name for the product: Delhaize Funky Pearl (ok, it’s just a working name). Now what? First position your garlic (to coin a phrase) and based on that, decide upon the appropriate packaging, shelf space and price. You’ll probably want to make sure your Funky Pearl is organic too and stress its natural origin – to avoid any doubts in the minds of your initially surprised, curious and skeptical consumers, who might otherwise suspect it of having been dreamed up in some mad scientist's laboratory. You'd also want to identify any taste, health and other benefits/distinguishing attributes it might have in addition to the obvious practical ones.

Brand strategy

After that (or better, simultaneously), you have to have some long-term brand strategy in place. In my view, you won’t need to brand the garlic for the sake of increasing its sales. Nope, you need the garlic to work on your corporate Delhaize brand, and trigger customer visits to your shops. For instance, based on the garlic image alone, you could develop your corporate positioning towards a more natural, and healthier image – if this is what you want to achieve, of course!


If so, garlic can give you a bunch of ideas for cool communications (both off and on-line) around the Funky Pearl garlic brand. You can:

  1. Build a communications campaign around health issues and benefits of eating more garlic.

  2. Populate Second Life with single clove garlic avatars.

  3. Introduce a line of sauces containing Funky Pearl.

  4. Blog about healthy food on your corporate blog. You can even have a pen name, Funky Pearl the Garlic.

  5. Create a Twitter account under the name of Funky Pearl.

  6. Make a Funky Pearl Garlic fan page on Facebook and throw a party for all its fans, catering garlicky food and requiring pearls to be worn.

  7. And to make it even more practical, design and patent the Funky Pearl Garlic Press – so you can press it in one go (it's a little too big to fit in a standard garlic press without cutting it into smaller pieces first).

Obviously, some of the above should not be taken too seriously, but you get the idea!

In any case, create a funny character out of our friend Mr Garlic for your communications purposes, he’s worth it! And kids will love him. You can even give away little models, DVDs of his cartoon adventures, have him appear in person in a store near you… (don't make the mistake of trying this on Brussels Sprouts though – it will never work).

So, here you go. You can brand anything, provided it actually IS a good product. Don’t try to do similar stuff around products of dubious quality and functionality – your smart customers will figure that out. Faster than they can peel a head of single clove Funky Pearl.

Also read my article about branding apples, Funky apples.

Bon appétit !

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