The Benefits of Co-Branding

May 21, 2009
DSM Nutritional Products’ new logos for its Vida family of healthy ingredients.

With so many nutritional products making an array of health claims, it can be difficult for customers to know which claims to trust. Marketers are always looking for ways to validate their products' claims. Co-branding a product's packaging with a branded ingredient logo is one way to lend a product credibility.

Of course, an ingredient logo is only useful if the ingredient itself has a solid reputation. If an ingredient is backed by good research and performs as expected, customers may come to see the ingredient's logo as a stamp of quality on packaging.

Ingredient suppliers hope that customers may even start buying products specifically because they carry a well-known ingredient logo. "We would benefit if the ingredient becomes recognized over time as one that delivers the health benefits it promises," says Garnet Pigden, senior vice president of functional foods for DSM Nutritional Products (Parsippany, NJ). "Marketers benefit because their consumers see value in a more trustworthy ingredient."

Optihealth Inc.’s Menopause Ultra product, featuring DSM’s GeniVida logo.

At the Natural Products Expo in March, DSM announced a new rebranding initiative for its family of ingredients. The ingredients are now tied together under the family name Vida, which is used as a suffix for all Vida product names. For instance, TensGuard, DSM's ingredient for promoting healthy blood pressure, has been renamed TensVida. Other renamed products include GeniVida for bone health and menopausal relief, InsuVida for healthy blood glucose, and ResVida for healthy aging.

Some may consider renaming an already well-known ingredient a risky move, but it's one that DSM is hoping will pay off. "Over time, we see ourselves being able to advertise the ingredient brand to consumers," says Pigden. "I can readily see us taking out ads in major women's magazines, for example, encouraging customers to look for the Vida ingredient logos on packaging."

When asked if it's difficult to convince marketers to use ingredient logos on packaging, Pigden admits that brands may at first be unwilling to add ingredient logos to the clutter of graphics on their packaging. "You have to bring up some convincing arguments and have the data to support it," he says. "You have to show them the value proposition."

Corazonas chip bags feature Archer Daniels Midland’s CardioAid logo on the back of the packages.

BioCell Technology LLC (Newport Beach, CA) is one supplier that requires marketers to use its ingredient logo on their packaging labels. Suhail Ishaq, vice president, says that BioCell Technology made this a requirement from the very beginning.

Like DSM, BioCell Technology has lots of research to back up its patented ingredient, BioCell Collagen II. "BioCell Collagen II has been the subject of human, animal, and in vitro studies in which its efficacy and safety have been documented," says Ishaq. "Several Hyaluronic Acid (HA) products have recently entered the market despite lack of published human clinical studies to support oral efficacy. BioCell Collagen II appears to be the only HA-containing product with a published human clinical study for efficacy."

BioCell Technology's Web site depicts an array of supplement brands using the BioCell Collagen II logo—including well-known brands such as The Vitamin Shoppe, Jarrow Formulas, and Nature's Way. "We don't require the logo to be large, so marketers can use it as large as they want to," says Ishaq. "Marketers actually want to use our logo because they are aware of the efficacy of the ingredient and that it will help customers distinguish a BioCell Collagen II–containing product from others."

If an ingredient supplier is well known, its ingredient logo can help smaller start-up brands gain customer credibility. California-based Corazonas Heart-Healthy tortilla and potato chips brand was more than happy to include its supplier's logo on its packaging. The Corazonas chips feature Archer Daniels Midland Co.'s (ADM; Decatur, IL) CardioAid plant sterols.

Ramona Cappello, CEO and cofounder of Corazonas, says that the brand decided to use the CardioAid logo on its packaging because of the extensive research that ADM had done on plant sterols. This research, says Cappello, helped pave the way for Corazonas, a newer brand, in the marketplace.

The BioCell Collagen II logo as seen on Arthenol’s Fast-Acting Joint Support & Lubrication product packaging.

"At the time we launched, plant sterols did not even have GRAS status with FDA," she says. "And ADM got that status. At the time, ADM had also pioneered a lot of the research in plant sterols. It had really done the predominance of the groundwork that was required for our product and its claims to even be accepted by the government and to be a commercially viable product."

Cappello says that as a small start-up company, Corazonas couldn't have afforded to do the amount of background work that ADM had done for CardioAid. Instead, Corazonas was able to take advantage of the research that ADM had done to promote the efficacy of its heart-healthy products. "We felt that having a trusted and respected logo like ADM's on our package would actually help the consumer feel more comfortable that we had the science and research behind our products," she says.

She adds, "We just did a focus group, and what we found is that people are looking for legitimacy behind brand names that they may not be aware of, like Corazonas. And when people see that the logo on our packaging is an ADM logo, they say, 'Okay, they have the right science behind this.' It's a source of comfort for the customer."

Co-branding has been a mutually beneficial relationship that has proved very successful, says Cappello. "It just seems like the natural thing to do. ADM has been an amazing partner, and they have been so helpful to us. Because if our product looks good with their logo on it, then they look good as well."