Confused about the sell by and use by labels on grocery foodstuffs?  As well as the “I’m all natural” claims?

Rest assured.  You’re not alone. 

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, nearly 2/3rds of respondents believe, for instance, that ‘natural’ implies the item is a better food and that it contains no artificial ingredients, chemicals, pesticides, or GMOs.  It’s food that is simple, less processed, and genuine (whatever that means).



The US Food & Drug Administration hasn’t defined it yet.

Which, of course, got us to thinking:  What about the labels we in the marketing and communications biz blithely toss around, like logo and tag line and slogan and campaign and … ?  Do our key audiences (for example, the C-suite) really understand what we’re talking about – and are we all on the same page?  And do all our labels result in further confusing the folks we’re trying to reach – and persuade?

You get our drift.  Obviously, we apply labels to simplify a complex world.  The words and phrases we use to describe things and ideas, according to a 1930s’ linguist (and proven true for decades and decades after), actually determine what we see.  Think of it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Twizzlers is a low-fat snack.  Natural cheese is simply that, without cellulose powder to keep it from sticking.

So is time to clear up our own noise – and, perhaps, set a great example for the manufacturers of this world?