New Wisconsin cheese logo is the first step in long-term branding strategy

Last fall, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) introduced a new logo and strategic positioning campaign designed to take the national marketing of Wisconsin cheese to the next level. The logo, which visually depicts Wisconsin’s cheesemaking pride and heritage, is now being added to the labels of a fast-growing roster of Wisconsin-made cheese products. So far, more than 30 cheesemaking companies in the state have signed on to use the logo on specific brands or private-label products. With the kick-off of WMMB’s upcoming retail promotion in April, built on the logo’s “Pride. Our Secret Ingredient™” theme, it will soon be visible in supermarket cases and in-store point-of-sale merchandising displays nationwide.

Will the logo be found on all Wisconsin-produced cheese? Probably not. Some companies that manufacture products in Wisconsin also do so in other states and their packaging and distribution systems don’t allow for labeling by state of origin. The logo will only be found on products made in a Wisconsin plant by licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers.

The logo is really just one piece of a much larger puzzle, of course. It’s what consumers will see. It’s how Wisconsin cheese will be identified and recognized as high-quality products that consumers can trust. It’s phase one of a long-term strategy.

This is because if you look at what’s been out in the marketplace, there has been a variety of styles, logos and looks being used on Wisconsin cheese. In many cases, in fact, there’s been nothing on a package to call out to consumers that a product has been made in Wisconsin. In some instances, it’s been short on unity in terms of marketing Wisconsin cheese as an umbrella “brand” for Wisconsin manufacturers.

The new Wisconsin cheese logo conveys Wisconsin's unique and long-running pride and passion for cheesemaking.
Why is it important for consumers to know the cheese they buy is from Wisconsin? They’ve told us through extensive research that they do care and that they feel good about buying cheese from Wisconsin. It’s simple: Consumers want to know.

In focus group studies conducted with more than 2,000 consumers nationwide over an 18-month period, the message came out loud and clear that certain strong perceptions are held about the quality, value and tradition of Wisconsin cheese. Participants said they understand and appreciate the fact that Wisconsin has a rich cheesemaking heritage and that cheesemaking here is part of the culture and the landscape. There’s special expertise and down-to-earth passion for cheesemaking in Wisconsin that is unique. Ultimately, the new logo aims to create a unified look and send a message that makes it easy for Wisconsin manufacturers and consumers alike to tap in to what is most valued about Wisconsin cheese.

Getting the logo onto manufacturer’s products, of course, is step one. It’s a process in the works. Manufacturers who are participating say they appreciate not only the look and feel of the logo and the idea behind it, but they also like the flexibility available to them in adopting it. You’ll see one-color versions and four-color, and sizes ranging from a half-inch to large stamps on master cases headed for foodservice markets. Manufacturers also like the support WMMB offers through its label-allowance program to help them tie the logo into their sales materials, extending the look and the message.

Step two in the program is a long-term, deep commitment on the part of WMMB as a marketing organization to bring the logo and what it represents to life in all programs and communications efforts. What we learned in the research process confirmed that consumers do value Wisconsin’s strengths in cheesemaking. The passion, the pride and the expertise is what draws people and makes them feel good about their buying decision. Can a logo sell cheese? We think it will, especially when it conveys Wisconsin’s unique and long-running pride and passion for cheesemaking. WMMB research indicates it will.