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Branding Your R&D Capabilities

Recently, we wrote about the impact that the clean-label movement is making throughout the food ingredient industry and how that impact influenced a lot of the messaging we saw at IFT this year. As the food industry continues to ride the wave of reformulations and better-for-you product rollouts, a flurry of action is taking place within one of the most important parts of many food ingredient companies—the R&D division—whose talents and innovative thinking make ingredients come to life in customer applications.

Companies that promote the resources and capabilities of its R&D is nothing new in food ingredients. However, we’re seeing more and more companies going beyond simply giving this team of experts a brief write-up and taking the extra step to fully brand this part of its company.

Here are some of the more memorable ways companies are creating a brand around its R&D—tactics that include memorable monikers, logo treatments, dedicated websites and unique characters:

Anyone who’s familiar with TIC Gums has seen the Gum Guru who represents the expertise and accessibility of the company’s team of food scientists. The frequent and consistent use of this character through all of the company’s branding has made the Gum Guru not just the symbol of its R&D but the symbol of the entire company, as demonstrated by its official tagline—We’re your Gum Guru. Its blog, video library and trade show mascot are just a few of the many ways TIC Gums has put the Gum Guru character in action to define the brand of the company. is a website devoted to the Bunge Ingredient Innovation Center, and you’ll see how it’s designated its innovation teams “the oil experts” and “the milling experts,” along with accompanying logos. It’s also named its mobile food truck MOE for “mobile oil experts” and has even given the truck its own twitter feed:


Naturex has a network of seven regional application laboratories around the world to support clients in its transition to applications made with natural ingredients. In a smart branding move, it’s named this network SPRINGlab for Sharing Product Ingenuity.

Chef’s Corner is a robust area of the Red Arrow website featuring several videos of its corporate chefs sharing tips and techniques on enhancing the flavor of various products, as well as a library of recipes organized by product category, food source and cooking method.

As you can see, food ingredient companies know that selling the capabilities and knowledge of a team tasked with making the R&D process a positive experience for food manufacturers is just as important as selling products. Branding these teams is a great way to bring personality to people who are key to a successful customer relationship.

Innovative Booth Spaces Lead the Way at IFT15

As creative director at Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, designing and developing booth spaces for major trade shows are some of the most exciting and high-profile projects we work on throughout the year. These are important events for our clients, and as ambassadors for their brand we always strive to create a space that not only is the strongest extension of their brand, but also makes for an engaging and impactful experience for trade show attendees.

Once a trade show booth design is complete, the only way to properly experience it “in action” is by attending one of these shows to see for yourself how visitors react to and engage with it.

As an IFT15 attendee, I had the opportunity to see how the most prominent companies in the food ingredient industry were vying for the attention of over 23,000 attendees, and I walked away with a ton of inspiration and insights for future projects. I was able to experience firsthand some of the most highly sophisticated trade show exhibits in the industry, all gathered together, and see what was working best in capturing the attention of attendees and creating a space that allowed sales teams to best engage with customers.

Here are some things that stood out for me on the expo floor at IFT15:

Emergence of infographics

In the world of B2B social media, infographics are one of the most effective ways to engage with visitors to share relevant content. This tactic also seemed to work very well on the trade show floor. Exhibitors like Mintel, Ingredion and Innova Market Insights (Innova) used prominent space on their booths to feature valuable content to attendees through giant infographics. And every time I walked by the Innova display, I saw attendees studying these infographics or grabbing photos of them with their phones.

Innova Booth IFT

The “wholesome” look

With clean and clear label dominating industry news today, I saw a lot of trade show imagery styled to convey a sense of what I call “wholesomeness.” Design cues like: white space, close-up shots of raw ingredients, vibrant colors and hand-drawn typefaces all had the effect of portraying an industry committed to addressing the needs of customers facing the ongoing challenge of consumer demand for clean and clear label.

Kitchens on wheels

When product sampling is a vital aspect of your trade show appearance, do it right. Companies like Ardent Mills, Bunge and David Michael and Co. all made quite a presence at IFT with branded mobile kitchens being an essential part of their space. It’s a great vehicle—pun intended—to extend a brand’s presence and engage customers beyond the trade show floor. When the show ends, these kitchens on wheels can then be driven anywhere so R&D can work side-by-side with a customer’s product development team.

David Michael IFT


Innovations in printing and production capabilities have led to some very unique materials being used for trade show spaces. I found it particularly interesting that many exhibitors, including Mercer Foods, were utilizing semi-translucent materials for prominent branding, making their space seem larger and less confined. Other exhibitors were taking a less-is-more approach by limiting the amount of hardware and giving plenty of walking area for visitors entering the booth space.

Mercer Foods IFT

It was great to experience all of the action at IFT15. Walking the expo floor, you fully realize how much time, effort, planning and teamwork—both by the exhibitors and IFT—goes into this event to make it a success each year.

What from the IFT15 trade show floor made an impression on you?

Trade Show Best Practices: A Guide for Food Ingredient Companies

Food Industry Trade Show

By planning ahead and utilizing the right strategies, you can better allocate your time and resources for food industry trade shows. Learn more >>

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