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It’s unlikely you’ve heard of the company called Huy Fong Foods.

Yet, if you’ve got even a passing interest in hot sauce, you know their product, Sriracha Chile Sauce.

The clear bottle with the rooster has achieved a quasi-iconic look.

Sriracha Chile Sauce

In a world where digital presence can determine success or failure and a company’s website serves essentially as its face to the outside world, the Huy Fong Foods website offers this:

Huy Fong Foods website

I think we can conclude that the company doesn’t believe in branding (or outsourcing graphic design).

The page devoted to Sriracha offers a perfunctory narrative, not exactly the storytelling techniques we’ve come to espouse.

Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Chile Sauce

What gives?

First, every memorable brand whether its Apple, Southwest Airlines or Sriracha starts with a great product that stands out from the competition. The product delivers on its promise to the buyer.

Sriracha does this.

Then the question becomes, how do we get people to notice much less feel an emotional connection to the product?

In the case of Sriracha, I suspect the company got a little lucky.

It gained early cult status among the foodies with word of mouth inspiring more people to try the sauce. As the pool of people spreading the word kept expanding, the number of people trying and loving the sauce also kept increasing, ultimately creating this self-virtuous cycle still at work today.

I doubt if Huy Fong Foods planned this. It just happened.

Look, it took courage for David Tran to scrape together $50K in family savings, start the company, invent Sriracha and push for distribution.

At some point, sales will hit a plateau and, if he wants to continue growing he’ll need to find the courage to invest in building the brand.

And perhaps hire a graphic designer.


Comments

  • Adam Justice

    10 years ago that would have been an average website. You’d be surprised, little things like adding some padding to the main text area would do more for the design than anything. Simple can work – it doesn’t in this case though.

    Ok, the graphics look a little cheap, but I think the problem is that the site doesn’t drive you correctly. I don’t feel like clicking anything when I get there. Why visit a hot sauce web page? I have so many ideas about what that site should look like and how they should feature content and what their content should be) that it’s ridiculous. They might be so busy filling orders that they haven’t noticed their lack of branding?

    Reply
  • Lou Hoffman

    Adam,

    I’m not a design expert so appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective.

    You might be right. They’re so busy selling the product that they don’t have time or care about the site.

    Reply
  • Martin Chorich

    I admit to rolling my eyes when marketing talk turns to branding. A brand comes from the inside out and is really a distillation of what the public has come to expect from terms like “Apple,” “BMW,” “Yugo,” or “Aladdin Bail Bonds.” In Huy Fong’s case the brand is what comes inside out of their bottles. I could fear what fancy experts might recommend to Huy Fong to tart up their brand. Extend it to footwear, Play games about “improving” the recipe to stimulate a bogus protest campaign on Facebook, License it to a paint and die company (Sriracha Red on cars, walls, and handbags). But I’m confident that Huy Fong would blink at pitches from marketing grifters in mute incomprehension. Bless them.

    Reply
  • hoffman

    I’m with you.

    BTW, that’s a great phrase, “tart up their brand.”

    I agree with you that brand extensions go bad 90% of the time.

    But your tongue-in-check “Siracha Red” isn’t half bad.

    My prediction–

    The management at Huy Fong stays the course until one of the mega food brands backs up the brink’s truck.

    Reply

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