When Branding isn’t so Black & White…

This whole thread got me thinking about Huel branding in general and how it will work – or not – if and when they ever expand into the Asean+6 markets which seems to be a natural progression when they crack NA.

Branding colour schemes can be a psychological and cultural mine field. The current Huel colour schemes work well in Western culture (and would also work fine in Gulf/GCC states) – where white is seen as a symbol of purity, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, hygiene etc. The colour (OK – so it’s not technically a colour) is associated with everything new and fresh. Reflecting light as it does - a large amount of white can be difficult to look at over long periods of time - however, it is a great way to make other colours in your branding more vibrant and perceptible.

In many countries, white is also the colour of weddings but in Asean+6 countries such as India, Korea and China - it is traditionally associated with funerals and mourning. It is very rarely used on branding here unless it’s a ‘copycat’ of a famous western brand. Colours that are more commonly used are:

Yellow & Gold

Yellow stands for optimism, confidence, self-esteem, happiness, encouragement and amusement. It has even stronger positive connotations in Asian countries - in China, it’s the colour of royalty and in Japan it represents courage. Yellow isn’t a ‘crowd favourite’ when it comes to Western countries, it may evoke associations with jealousy, cowardice, fear, anxiety and even insanity. In Russia, for instance, there’s a colloquial expression ‘yellow house’, which is slang for an asylum. Yellow in a logo is an attention grabber but overuse can lead to consumer fatigue.

Nothing says “expensive” more than gold. It’s the colour of wealth, victory, wisdom, royalty, prosperity, glamour, luxury and prestige. The warmth of gold irradiates everything around it - just don’t get the wires crossed when it comes to yellow and gold - golden hues have some red or brown in them, which gives them a power that pure yellow doesn’t.

Gold is traditionally used for superior, one-of-a-kind, high-quality products. It creates a nice separation, emphasizing that the product is not for all, only for the chosen ones, for the elite. That’s why it works so well for luxury brands in finance, food, beauty and fashion-related companies.


Red is one of the most popular and controversial colours. It represents power and energy, strength and excitement, passion and life, courage and love, celebration and seduction. Red is also about war and blood, conflict and aggression, lust and defiance, anger and hatred, wrath and stress.

The connotations of red also vary depending on the country. In Asia it’s a colour of weddings. It symbolizes fortune, happiness, and fertility. In some African countries, on the other hand, red is a colour of death and mourning.

Using red to catch the eye is a classic marketing trick. It stimulates impulsive shoppers by creating urgency, boosts hunger, brings customers’ attentions to the most important parts of the product, and invites them to take physical action.

To Western observers this may all seem like superstitious hocus pocus (and to an extent it is) but superstitions run deep in Asian cultures and date back centuries. They are still very much a ‘thing’ even now.

If you combine all of the Asean+6 counties (including India, China, Australia and SEA, the population in 2020 was 3.7 billion (or 47.4% of the total global population). So while it’s a massive market loaded with potential - it’s also a tough nut to crack. Colour psychology in branding is always critical but when that drifts over the line from perception and feeling into the realm of faith, superstition and conviction - then it’s a tricky path to navigate.

Given all of the above – here’s my take on Huel powder branding for an Asean+6 market introduction:

It may strike you as odd looking but without a doubt, would have a much wider appeal than the current white packs.


On subject of branding I’ve always been surprised that huel calls itself huel in other countries. It’s very common for brands to change name in different countries for lots of different reasons.

Lynx in Britain Axe in America
Burger King in Britain hungry jacks in Australia
KFC in Canada drive into Quebec (which is still Canada) its called PFK
even just crossing the channel into Europe they drive Opels not Vauxhalls, drink Coca Cola light not Diet Coke, eat dove bars not Galaxy bars. The list is endless. They’re all the same just rebranded for a foreign market.

Like I said before there’s lots of reasons why a brand would change their name but the main reason Huel should is because it’s quite a difficult word for non English speakers to pronounce. If they want to break into the Asian market then they need a product their customers can actually pronounce.

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Mouthful of soapy perfumed bubbles :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes::mask::laughing:
when I was expecting chocolate

This is far more relevant than needing to change any colour scheme for different markets.

Saying that though, English people also have trouble pronouncing Huel !!

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I was pronouncing Huawei wrong for years - hu are we but it turned out to be wah way lol

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no it isn’t

It might be a bit of a stereotype but it’s true that Asian speakers generally struggle with vowelly English words. That being said – Huel is a pretty simple word so some careful marketing highlighting its phonetic pronunciation could bypass that. Bahasa which is the native language used in Malaysia and Indonesia literally uses phonetic spelling for English language words incorporated into their own when no equivalent exists – for example:

  • Farmasi
  • Kafe
  • Teksi
  • Restoran

In fact – Bahasa literally means ‘language’. There are a few oddities – the word for water is Air :slight_smile:

I think the main problems would be logistics. Firstly – registering multiple trademarks around the world would be costly and difficult to manage and would also mean your primary packaging would need changing a lot. This adds more cost and complicates the supply chain. Then there’s the sheer volume of languages. Honestly, their best bet would be to establish the brand using the powders only first.

This is because the packaging real estate is large enough to allow for language clusters on the back label without changing the front. You could probably manage with 4 languages before it gets too crowded so it would depend on which markets you target first – something like English, Mandarin, Bahasa and Japanese. This would cover some of the densest population areas. If things went well this could be extended to a second language cluster of English, Thai, Tagalog and Vietnamese for example.

Once a brand is more recognised - other products could be rolled out with less need language clustering.

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yes it is :stuck_out_tongue:

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In Spain, saying Huel is horrible. One of the worst names

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anybody who knows about branding, retail or colour perception will tell you different. Brand owners play with colour and how it interacts with light to manipulate your purchase decision whether you realise it or not. Even your local supermarket uses different colour light sources around the store to stimulate various different responses.

I’m not saying colour isn’t important. It’s critical.
But the brand name, in my opinion, is even more important.

its important for brand loyalty sure but we’re talking about attracting new customers here - diluting a brand with multiple variations of the name can cause a significant backlash as well as confusing consumers as to whether its a legitimate product.

The research done by The Institute of Colour Research Chicago revealed that all humans make a subconscious judgement about a person, environment or item within 90 seconds of viewing.

A range of between 62% to 90% of that assessment was based on colour alone. Pitching new FMCG products in a crowded marketplace gives you only a narrow window of time (90 seconds apparently) to hook someones interest so you may as well play to that strength. Lining up a product whose colour signifies death or mourning in a culture puts you on the back foot straight away.

It doesn’t even have to be a cultural dislike of a colour - political issues can also come into play - say for example why you never see many green coloured products launching in India.

There’s plenty of secondary research that backs up the Chicago institutes findings – one well known branding study showed that using a signature colour caused as much as an 80% increase in a consumer’s recognition of a brand. They also created a range of fictitious brand logos and showed these to the study participants. After giving them 10 minutes to study the logos, 78% were able to recall the primary colour of the brand, compared to only 43% who were able to remember the name.

The only real reason you would need to change the name is if it meant something offensive or weird in another language - like in Luxembourg where Huel means howl :slight_smile:

In Belgian Dutch it can mean “a lot” or “very” in a dialect heavy pronunciation. You already see this in Dutch comments on Huel FB, people are using this to laugh with it :wink:

I.e. “Dat gaat ge toch Huel rap beu worden” (You’re gonna get fed up with it very fast), etc …

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There’s been mention here on the forum of it meaning something rude in another language.
I can’t find the post right now.

I’m not saying the brand name should change for other countries, but as @Berserker points out it’s common practice for brands to have different names in different countries, and actually it’s the logo, font and colour scheme that stays universal and makes the brand recognisable across cultures.

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I’m sure I’ll gain criticism for saying this, but I personally don’t think ‘Huel’ is the best name for this product. My friends are for ever saying to me ‘what’s it called again?’ ‘How do you pronounce that?’ ‘What’s that hurl stuff / yule / hhhhurguuuuulllll’ and so on and so on.
It’s not a very natural flow of sounds in the mouth ‘hue’ followed by ‘l’.
I think a strong catchy name is very important.
I couldn’t necessarily come up with anything better though!! :laughing:
And I don’t think it would be a good idea to change it now, after so much investment into marketing in the last year. But I do agree with others that it could (possibly should?) be changed when marketing in other countries and cultures.

What I do really like about the brand is the strong simple colour scheme and logo, and I think this makes up for the slightly weak name.
The colours and the packaging represent and symbolise what the company is about, and their mission statement, and that’s exactly what it is supposed to do.


Ultimately though, I don’t care much.
I buy the product for the content not the packaging. And with the majority of sales being made online, what it looks like on supermarket shelves is fairly irrelevant (with the exception of the RTD).
With the RTD I’m with @Phil_C on this (sort of!) I think the packaging / sleeve wrapper could be brightened up. Currently it looks like a milk shake on the shelf: nothing about it tells me it’s a complete nutrition meal drink at first glance. I think something more futuristic and eye catching could make a big difference. I say I’m ‘sort of’ agreeing with Phil because I’m suggesting it could be improved for display on supermarket shelves in this country, whereas Phil’s thread is about modifying it for other markets (sorry @Phil_C for detouring off! But it’s an interesting and thought provoking topic)

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The company says it short for human fuel but I think that’s a cool name and there’s no need to shorten it

@ChristinaT I remember reading that thread. I think huel is a rude word in Russian or sounds similar to a rude word


My competing product, Henergy, will hit the shelves any day now. I’m gonna steal that red and gold packaging, @Phil_C, it’s beautiful.

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Sounds like chicken feed :rooster:
Or will that just relate to the pricing?


Agreed - The long and short of it is Huel is far too young a brand name to dilute it with random changes in different languages – many companies in the past have fallen foul of it and ended up with egg on their face – whereas regional specific colour shifts are more subjective and less risky as they can be applied through known and quantitative data on popularity and cultural meaning.

Why is it always Russian? :slight_smile: poor old Kraft Foods also came a cropper with Russian slang when they paid a branding agency millions to come up with a fake name fdr their new snacking business Mondelez.

Changing the wording but keeping the logo style generally just tends to make people unfamiliar with it in new markets, think it’s a counterfeit product. The current name has a great social media recognition – better than any of their rivals – so it makes no sense to change that.

Logistically – keeping the primary packaging the same style but having different colour variants also allows them to be repurposed in original markets for seasonal promotions or special editions which helps keeps things fresh. A red bag used in Eastern markets could be dropped into the mix in Western markets during December and January periods to cover the Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays for example – without necessarily needing to change the actual product.


Can confirm, I use the English pronunciation for it but a friend of mine who has also used Huel, calls it Hüül.