The three panelist and moderator Amy Kull, founder of consulting firm Marin Restorative, discuss rebranding. ( Ashley Nickle )

CHICAGO — Marketers from three companies that recently rebranded discussed their experiences during a session June 10 at the United Fresh Produce Association conference and expo.

Each company had entered the process of rebranding for a different reason. Naturipe wanted to launch into consumer-facing marketing and needed a look that would resonate with that audience. Utah Onions – now Onions 52 – had outgrown its name, which no longer reflected the scope of its production. Shenandoah Growers offered multiple brands and wanted to unify its presentation.

CarrieAnn Arias, vice president of marketing for Naturipe, said the company aimed to develop a look that would appeal to shoppers, so extensive consumer research was the foundation for the changes.

“Where we landed we were shocked, because we really thought that after being in an arch for 100 years that we probably needed to stay in an arch, and we didn’t need to, and consumers actually pushed up well beyond anything we ever expected that the brand could live in, and so we had a huge ‘a ha’ for ourselves that we had a lot of room to play that we never expected,” Arias said.

She cautioned marketers to not fall in love with a logo or other elements because the consumers will have the final say.

“We spent all of our time trying to be agnostic, and that’s I think one of the hardest things with a brand that’s really old is to take your emotion out of it,” Arias said.

Falon Brawley, director of marketing and business development for Onions 52, said the company worked with a consultant who came up with nearly 200 possible new names for the organization.

“A question that you want to ask yourself is not, ‘Well do I like it?’” Brawley said. “The better question to ask is does it feel right for our brand?”

She also suggested mocking up packaging with potential new names to get a feel for how the whole concept will come together.

Nadine Williams, director of marketing for Shenandoah Growers, said the company did consumer research on its various brands but ultimately decided to create a new brand. The new brand name is That’s Tasty and the packaging is bright teal.

Originally, the company had settled on the brand name Damn Tasty and bright pink packaging, but there was pushback, Williams said. She noted that, coming from the world of consumer packaged goods marketing, she was accustomed to simply going for what resonated with shoppers. The produce industry is perhaps more conservative than some of the key shoppers it’s trying to reach, Williams said.

“We have to be probably more progressive than we’ve ever been as an industry to resonate with consumers,” Williams said. “Millennials and Gen Z … they’re looking for transparency. They’re looking for brand authenticity. They’re looking for brands that mean something and say something about them.”

Arias also noted the desire of Gen Z consumers for connection with their food.

“They’re more interested in origin than ever before,” Arias said. “So food resume’s not new, but the expectation that it’s like the foundation of our brand is their expectation because they were raised on the trendiness of food resume.

“Now it’s just a minimum expectation,” Arias said. “Whether it’s a sustainability message or anything else, it’s your entry-level now.”