Image shows the Impossible product line up featuring its new red branding and packaging design

Sink your teeth into Impossible’s new branding

The plant-based food brand is amping up its proposition for meat-eaters with a new identity and positioning developed by JKR

Every now and then, a seemingly unthinkable food innovation manages to transcend science journals and sweep through the mainstream media. In 2016, that mantle was taken up by Impossible Foods, which grabbed headlines when it launched the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty that seemed to mimic the characteristics of its meat counterpart.

As part of a new brand refresh and repositioning by JKR, Impossible is steering its image away from food science towards flavour in support of its mission to appeal to a rather big, and difficult-to-crack market: meat-eaters. While this has been Impossible’s ambition for years, the brand was still (understandably) being associated with vegetarian and plant-based lifestyles, rather than being a first choice for everyone.

Graphic showing the new Impossible white uppercase wordmark with elongated letterforms

“Realising that the traditional narrative around plant-based products was predominantly geared towards vegetarians, we needed an approach that was capable of shaking up the animal agriculture industry and appealing to a wider demographic,” says Lisa Smith, ECD Global at JKR.

“By strategically positioning Impossible in the meat aisle, we’re aiming to entice meat enthusiasts to savour ‘more meat,’ while also integrating the brand into the cultural occasions cherished by meat aficionados everywhere.”

Image shows the new Impossible branding on a horizontal poster with a photo of a burger in front of the lettering

Variations of this strategy – borrowing from, and burrowing into the meat category – have been adopted by plant-based and vegetarian brands for some time. In some ways, it’s a risk: this method has famously irked plenty of meat-eaters who feel they’ve been misled. But done right, it can also reap rewards.

The new identity includes a subtly revised wordmark, as well as the introduction of a new bespoke typeface, the cleverly named Sans Meat, which draws on the hand-lettering seen in traditional market and butcher signage. These cues run throughout the design system, for instance in the suite of simple cut out shapes inspired by signs, in a bid to inject a sense of “heritage” into what is still a relatively new category.

Image shows a line up of four Impossible burgers with different hued forks stuck in the bun

The new palette lifts inspiration from typical beef burger cooking stages – rare, medium, well-done, charred – and ranges from bright red to deep claret. Expect to see packaging for all its products, imitation beef and otherwise, in the punchy ‘rare’ red, a nod back to its status as the originator of the plant-based burger that ‘bleeds’. These will be joined by secondary and tertiary colours in other touchpoints, including ‘chicken red’, ‘planet blue’, and ‘plant green’.

Nutritional information is given a prominent spot on-pack, which now appears to minimise references to animal welfare compared to the previous packaging design. While this information is important, maybe even persuasive to a lot of people, it signals a recognition that meat-eaters may be put off if they feel they’re being lectured to.

Previous packaging on the left, next to JKR’s new packaging design on the right

The photography style is consistent with the mouthwatering visuals favoured by burger joints, but then there isn’t always a need to reinvent the wheel. Meanwhile the woodcut-inspired illustrations add a quiet charm to an otherwise bold identity, whose uppercase lettering gives it a certain shouty intensity – presumably to help the brand jump out on supermarket shelves.

“All of this culminates in a design system and experience that resonates with consumers at every turn,” Smith adds. “It’s not just about adopting a new lifestyle or trying something in a different category – it’s about transforming how we eat. By reshaping perceptions of the brand, we’re showing meat eaters that eating Impossible is not a sacrifice, but rather a delicious reward.” The packaging will soon roll out in the US and overseas later in the year.

Image shows a row of three vertical posters, two featuring photos of Impossible burgers and the last one headlined 'Meat lover tested Animal approved'

Image shows a row of four phones showing the new Impossible branding incorporated into social media posts