By David Keefe

Principal, Brand Essentials 

It’s a terrific name that is aspirational. Right off the bat, the name points – in a very intended way – to the promise of a meatless world…

On February 27th ,2020 Wall Street and many onlookers in the marketing and media world will be asking the question – Where’s The Beef? That is the day Beyond Meat (BYND) will announce its 2019 4th quarter earnings, after a year where faux-meat innovators have seen both massive upswings and declines in their fortunes. Some analysts see BYND as the Tesla of the meat market – a pioneer building a disruptive new category, while capitalizing on “green” trends and ‘nutritional shaming’ that drives consumers away from gorging on delicious, greasy burgers.

From a branding perspective, this new category is fascinating due to, among other things, the names that are competing for global mindshare. To begin, we start with Beyond Meat. It’s a terrific name that is aspirational. Right off the bat, the name points – in a very intended way – to the promise of a meatless world. Beyond Meat is both a name and a statement. Derived from real and descriptive words, the name is highly strategic due to its breadth and flexibility; seemingly allowing the firm to pivot in any product direction – burgers, chicken, pork, tofu…you name it. As brand consultants, we often counsel our clients to avoid names “that box you in,” or ones that can become obsolete as the category and marketplace grows and inevitably changes over time.

This provides a nice segue into another contender in the category – Impossible Burger. While the parent company is called Impossible Foods, most consumers know the brand only as Impossible Burger. As with Beyond Meat, the name is also truly aspirational, but here it is less about the future, and more about a product experience that exceeds expectations. Both names have a strong personality and recall in the early days of the marketplace, but this faux-meatery seems to have localized much of its brand around being a burger. As a result, the name limits the brand’s latitude to expand into other product categories and forces Impossible Burger to reinvest in explaining new offerings to build awareness. Still, it’s not an “impossible” task.

Finally, the fake meat market is rounded out by a coined name from Kellogg’s Morningstar Farms – Incogmeato. This playful name is a clever play on words and has very unique qualities, as most coined names do. Brought to market by Morningstar Farms, the name is a bit clunky, hard to decipher quickly and generally not very (as we say in the industry) “telegraphic.” One remedy to this is to reduce or even lose the very heavy endorsement from Morningstar Farms (sorry, no one really knows or cares).

Instead, focus on building meaning and equity into the very ‘ownable’ idea of being something that is (fortunately and surprisingly) disguised as something else. In my opinion, the key ingredients of this name are solid, but the verbal and visual brand execution is very poor. Thus, the upside potential of the name languishes in the meatless dungeon – a place where no brand wants to dwell.