By pioneering new paths for consumers and the dairy industry, fairlife is shaking up the world of milk. A focus on the fundamentals – exceptional cow care, smart and responsible farming, and sustainable agriculture – drives the fairlife mission to reinvigorate the category by concentrating milk’s natural goodness to deliver the nutrition needed to live life well.

Following that same commitment to the basics, the fast-growing company’s flagship product, fairlife ultra-filtered milk, recently refreshed its packaging graphics and visual identity system (VIS).

“We knew we had an opportunity for our packaging to speak up a little more on behalf of the brand,” said Brad Gruen, VP of marketing, fairlife. “The brand was gaining momentum, so the timing was right to make sure we were communicating that fairlife is real, nutrient-rich milk, and that we’re a passionate group of dairy farmers committed to the craft of producing amazing milk.”

The fairlife team partnered with Coca-Cola Design to update the look of the brand. (fairlife is a partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and Select Milk Producers Inc. Coca-Cola distributes fairlife products.)

“We saw an opportunity to strengthen our shelf impact and drive overall awareness and trial,” Gruen said. “Because once people try fairlife, its great taste and nutritional benefits do the heavy lifting for us.”

The McCloskeys' Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana is dedicated to sustainable dairy farming.
The McCloskeys at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Their flagship dairy is open year-round to the public.

People can see fairlife’s pioneering approach to sustainable dairy farming – exceptional cow care, traceability and responsible agriculture – when they tour the company’s flagship farm Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Great-tasting fairlife milk is sourced from Fair Oaks and partner farms in Michigan, all part of a co-op of family-owned dairy farms (Select Milk Producers) that share the same values as fairlife founders Mike and Sue McCloskey. Milk is then cold-filtered to concentrate its goodness with more of what consumers want (protein, calcium) and less of what they don’t (sugar, lactose).

The new fairlife look needed to put a softer, more emotional spin on these functional benefits – starting with packaging. “Packaging graphics are for the majority of consumers the first experience with the brand, and the only marketing asset that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Gruen said.

'We saw an opportunity to strengthen our shelf impact and drive overall awareness and trial. Because once people try fairlife, its great taste and nutritional benefits do the heavy lifting for us.'
 

Tom Farrell, who oversaw the rebranding project in partnership with San Francisco-based agency Turner Duckworth, agrees. “It’s the biggest billboard for any CPG brand, but especially in a traditional, very established category like dairy. Your identity has to communicate your heritage and what you stand for.”

And, in fairlife’s case, where the brand is headed. The refreshed fairlife logo features a softly illustrated cow icon, which highlights its commitment to sustainable dairy farming and animal welfare, and an embedded exclamation point representing its ambition to wake up a sleepy category.

Enjoy that after school snack of milk and chocolate chip cookies with confidence that Fairlife is committed to sustainable dairy farming and animal welfare.

“We think fairlife has a real opportunity to scratch the record and say, ‘Let’s have a new conversation around milk and innovation,” Farrell added. “So we wanted to simultaneously represent fairlife’s credentials, values and disruptive approach to dairy.”

The end result is a VIS that feels fresh and contemporary, yet natural and personable. The new look extends to the fairlife website and social/digital media channels and in-store merchandising, and creates a visual blueprint for future brand campaigns and communications.

“This was an example of harnessing the best of a startup brand and the power of the Coca-Cola system and its subject matter expertise,” Gruen said. “The Coca-Cola Design team and Turner Duckworth embraced the fairlife story and brought some great strategic thinking and creativity to this work.”

Discover the wide range of sustainable dairy products Fairlife offers such as from ultra-pasteurized milk to Core Power protein milkshakes.

Building the fairlife ‘Masterbrand’

The new branding’s early-2017 rollout coincided with the launch of fairlife SuperKids, which is packed with 125 mg of DHA Omega-3. The new variety is available in 52-oz. bottles for at-home consumption and four-packs of 8-oz. bottles for school lunches on-the-go nutrition.

“One thing we continue to learn is that most households have multiple milks in the fridge that serve different roles and needs,” Gruen said. “SuperKids is not a swap-out brand… it’s truly incremental.”

SuperKids followed fairlife’s 2016 rollout of YUP!, a naturally sweetened, flavored milk targeting teens and young adults, and 2012 launch of the athlete-focused Core Power high protein milkshakes. A just-launched line of fairlife Smart Milkshakes high in protein, antioxidants and pre-biotic fiber, meanwhile, is geared to older consumers.

'We fundamentally believe that our core tenets – better taste, better nutrition, better values – give fairlife significant elasticity that allows us to innovate across many different categories.'
 

“We now have a fairlife beverage for everyone,” Gruen said. “The decline in fluid milk consumption over the last 25 years has, in many cases, been due to the expansion of other beverage categories. We’ve seen dropoff because there have been no options to transition the milk lover across different lifestages. With YUP!, we wanted to make sure Millennials had a milk beverage they could enjoy and get nutrition from, but also a fun, youthful brand that builds a connection.”

Gruen said the new fairlife VIS will gradually unite all existing brands – and other SKUs in the pipeline – under one roof.

“We’re building a masterbrand,” he explains. “We fundamentally believe that our core tenets – better taste, better nutrition, better values – give fairlife significant elasticity that allows us to innovate across many different categories.”

And if fairlife’s 2016 performance is any indication, the sky’s the limit. The brand posted 80 percent volume growth for the year, significantly outpacing the $6 billion value-added dairy category, which grew 5 percent.

“fairlife, YUP! and Core Power all reached new heights last year, which allowed us to take a breath and think strategically about the pipeline of opportunities within the realm of what Mike and Sue and Select Milk Producers have been working on for decades – the reinvention of fluid milk,” said Anders Porter, fairlife’s VP of communications. “Previously, fairlife didn’t talk much about Core Power, or vice versa, but now we’re starting to. It took letting our horses get out and run a bit before bringing them together to pull the coach. We’ve got a lot more to come, and this new package design is an important first step in streamlining our messaging across the entire portfolio.”