For 85 years, Kraft Mac and Cheese has been one of the staples of comfort food. As far as easy eating goes, mac and cheese is about as iconic as it gets. For many people, it’s as much part of the experience of growing up as playing in the neighbor’s yard until the street lights come on.
Except, if you go to the grocery store and try to buy a box, you won’t find one. At least, not the one to say ‘mac and cheese’ on that one.
That’s because the blue box with the orange and yellow letters and the famous elbow noodle smile isn’t called ‘Mac and Cheese’. It’s called Macaroni and Cheese. That’s the official name. Well, till now.
On Thursday, Krafthenge said it was changing the name. Now, it will officially be mac and cheese, which makes sense, given that everyone calls it that anyway. “The change from ‘Macaroni & Cheese’ to ‘Mac & Cheese’ is meant to reflect the way fans organically talk about the brand,” the company said in a statement. Press release,
Honestly, it’s fantastic. I’ll bet a lot of money that the non-zero number of people reading this right now didn’t know it wasn’t already called mac and cheese.
I mean, usually, when a company decides to rebrand a product, it’s a bad idea unless something significant has changed that customers will be confused by calling it the same thing. But, that is why most of the companies do not change their brand. Usually, someone gets bored or thinks they have a great idea that will breathe new life into the name of a product.
I promise you it will never work this way. This is because a brand is not your logo or your color scheme or your website. It’s not even the story you try to tell through marketing.
No, your brand is the story your customers tell themselves about you and your product. It’s about every experience they have with your product–most of which you have no control over. More than that, they feel the same way about your company. Everything else is just a reminder of that story – about that feeling.
In this case, though, mac and cheese is already the brand, so even though it took Kraft close to a century to come to the same conclusion the rest of us found out when we were about to starve for six years. As he was sitting at the table.
So this is a big deal. Macaroni and cheese is something common to find on a kids’ menu at a fast-casual restaurant. Mac and cheese is something you have after school when you finish your homework before soccer practice. It’s like sitting on the couch in your dorm room watching a movie with your roommate. Comfort food. That is its brand.
It’s a really fun lesson, actually. Just because you carefully craft a name and a logo and a package design, it doesn’t mean that anyone will care. They will call your product what they want anyway. After a while, it doesn’t matter what it says on the box, what matters is what your customers tell themselves. At some point, it seems silly not to go along with that story.
By the way, I’m not here to debate the culinary value of processed cheese and pasta noodles. The reason people love mac and cheese isn’t because it’s the greatest food you can get in a box. This story is about. Comfort food. Congratulations to KraftHeinz for recognizing it and owning it.