Canadian Packaging

Breaking Bread

By Myles Shane   

Stunning new package design earns family-owned Canadian bakery industry accolades and instant market-share gains

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ont., Furlani Foods is a remarkably successful family-owned bakery that specializes in specialty bread products such as garlic bread, garlic Texas toast, and various flavours of bread knots and breadsticks.

Operating three production facilities—one in Mississauga and two in Oak Creek, Wis.—the company enjoys a healthy market share and shelf presence at major retailers and food-service operators across North America, which it has recently reasserted with a stunning new package design that is may well be new golden standard for this highly competitive product category.

Launched in April of 2022, the Furlani brand’s new packaging—developed by leading Canadian product branding and design agency Davis—picked up the prestigious Best-in-Class Brand Marketing Revitalization Award in the 2023 PAC Global Awards competition in recognition of its new brand identity and packaging design.

Featuring cheerful food-forward photography, an updated wordmark, and a warm orange-and-gold colour scheme that accurately projects the brand’s optimism, comfort and family friendliness, the new packaging was also updated to include a new QR (quick response) code that instantly connects consumers to helpful serving suggestions and recipe ideas.

According to Furlani Foods head of marketing Jackie Brenkel, the award-winning packaging design was created to better connect consumers with the brand’s mission to transform everyday meals and take them to a whole new level. The new packaging design integrates key information, such as product flavour, preparation time and nutritional claims, on the principal display panel.

In addition, the new packaging also integrates different packaging materials and substrates from a diverse group of reputed packaging suppliers that includes Accord Carton (folding cartons), Graphic Packaging International, Interflex Group (bake-in-bag foil), Precision Colors, Pentaflex (bake-in-bags) and Tempo Flexible Packaging (polybags).

For South African-born Brenkel, who collaborated with Davis vice-president and creative director Mark Roberts on the new design, the PAC Global Award is a resounding validation of the company’s appreciation of packaging as a highly effective marketing competence.

“We were delighted to receive this PAC Global packaging award, the second ever to be bestowed on Furlani Foods,” said Brenkel in a recent interview.

“The award recognized the impact of our new family-friendly packaging design and its ability to transform the garlic bread category,” says Brenkel, who moved to Canada over 30 years ago.

Describing herself as an experienced award-winning CPG (consumer-packaged goods) marketer, Brenkel has built up an impressive professional track record working at well-known Tier One CPG companies like ConAgra, Henkel, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Corby Distilleries and Seagram Spirits and Wines.

“I have led projects in various highly competitive categories,” she says, “including frozen meals, desserts, pantry items, snacks, beauty, and beverage alcohol.”

For his part, growing up as a son of a mechanic provided Mark Roberts with a keen appreciation of all things design-related early on in his working life.

“I joined Davis almost 30 years ago as an intermediate designer,” Roberts says.

“I grew with the company as it evolved from a Canadian-centric packaging-design company to a North American and global integrated agency, working with a far-reaching breadth of clients from startups to the world’s leading brands,” he says, citing an impressive list of clients that include Arterra, Canadian Tire, McCormick, ConAgra, Kraft, Heinz, Corby and, of course, Furlani.

As Roberts explains, being a part of Davis’ continuous growth and evolution into a formidable player in the package design world—along with its sister agency BridgeMark—has been a highly rewarding and gratifying professional experience.

“Davis was the original company, built by Glenn Davis starting in 1971,” he relates. “Over the years of growth, we found ourselves in scenarios where we had to turn work away due to mergers and acquisitions of brands and other companies.

“Our solution was to form a completely separate agency, in 2007, that was staffed with some of the people from Davis,” he explains.

“This ensured consistent quality control, a similar product output and the ability to service more clients,” says Roberts, adding that both Davis and BridgeMark operate as separate-but-related agencies under the Glenn Davis Group corporate umbrella.

According to Brenkel, one of the prime reasons why Furlani decided to undertake a major packaging redesign was to unify and streamline its various individual brands under one distinct, re-energized Masterbrand with the same look and feel across North America.

As Brenkel explains, “The need for revitalized creative stemmed from the updated brand positioning and key consumer insights.

“We did a lot of research that informed our new packaging design,” Brenkel states.

“The evolved branding communicates what makes Furlani special—bringing consumers delicious products of the highest quality, while speaking to meal makers through fun and joyful visual language.

“So we repositioned the brand to promote the fact that it’s good mood food—not only a meal enhancer, but a mood enhancer as well,” Brenkel elaborates.

“This is an important step in the branding process, as it ensures that the new look resonates with the target audience and effectively communicates the brand’s values and key messaging.”

According to Brenkel, any new design had to succeed in effectively projecting Furlani’s commitment to delivering high-quality products by using visual language that would create and reinforce a positive association with the brand.

For his part, Roberts was also convinced that Furlani Foods’ retail products were also due for some special branding upgrades.

“My thought with any successful brand is that over time, decisions are made with hasty speed, which can create disparity amongst all the offerings,” he says.

“At some point, companies need to take a step back and unify the overarching look of the brand,” he says, “so that it can be seen more as a leader than a commodity.”

From early on, Davis and Furlani worked closely to establish clear goals and objectives for the redesign of the brand—starting with basic sketches and theories in the early stages and moving on to refine and improve the evolving design collaboratively.

Throughout the process, they tested their theories with consumers and shared the design with internal stakeholders at Furlani.

Says Roberts: “The team followed simple rules of communication, ensuring that the brand clearly communicated who they are (Furlani), what they offer (garlic toast), and why they are a unique choice (flavour and convenience).”

As he explains, Furlani’s new Family Faves brand identity and packaging graphics were a major part of the brand’s transformation process.

“It breaks away from the mundane and static food photography that is so common in the category,” he reflects.

Brenkel concurs, noting that the bright colour scheme is unique to this Furlani brand, while creates an unmistakable beacon across both the fresh bakery and frozen aisles inside the grocery stores.

Roberts agrees that the standout imagery used in the new design aptly captures the brand’s belief in “setting the mood before you set the table.”

As he reiterates, the new Furlani packaging design emphasizes the brand’s uniqueness, captures the brand’s core values, and sets it apart from category competitors by using technology to bring consumers ever closer to the brand owner.

Strategically located on the packaging’s backside, the QR code instantly connects consumers to an extensive collection of Furlani recipes on the company’s website, which has seen a big increase in traffic since its introduction, according to Brenkel.

Just as important, the product information on the front panel has also been expanded to include preparation time, nutritional information, and whether the product contains any artificial colours or flavours.

In addition to being visually engaging and informative, the new design has also done a masterful job of having all the different substrates used to make it seamlessly work together in one highly functional structure that also addresses consumers’ growing concerns about packaging sustainability.

According to Brenkel, all the folding cartons in the Family Faves brand are made from 100 per cent recycled fibre with 60 per cent PCR (post-consumer recycled) content, while fully meeting the Recycled Paperboard Association (RPA) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards for responsible forestry management.

With the whole package redesign product taking about six months to complete, the early market reception to the new packaging suggests it was time very well spent.

As Brenkel confides, the sales of Furlani’s Garlic Texas Toast have increased by a healthy 5.3 per cent since the launch of new packaging, while the sales of Furlani Garlic Bread have soared by a remarkable 25.2 per cent.

With growing sales and volumes across the entire brand range, Brenkel says the Furlani’s brand is starting to reach unprecedented popularity and brand loyalty levels with consumers across both Canada and the U.S.

“The new packaging has a confidence that exudes the pride of the people who make it—it really stands out,” she states.

“It is now unified across North America, and the newly-created assets provide us with the breadth to grow our communication beyond packaging for years to come.

“The highlight of our work solved not only the immediate need of unification and greater shelf impact,” she asserts, “but it also future-proofs the brand by being so uniquely distinct from our competitors.”

Importantly, it sends out a clear message that “Furlani is ‘good mood’ food,” says Brenkel, citing the brand’s mission to bring joy to everyone at the table.

As she sums up, “The new design brings the Furlani brand ever close to families who enjoy mouth-watering favourites.”

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