14 July, 2020 | Posted in Point of view

Pan di stelle. The magic of a biscuit made ‘Brand’

From being just one of many products in the Mulino Bianco portfolio to an independent platform able to generate an image emotively powerful enough to branch out into other territories, even those previously considered ‘off-limits’.

Can a patch of the sky be round?’ In a way, the Pan di Stelle adventure, beyond the borders of a mere biscuit, began with that question, which sat on the packaging for years; a question that encapsulated the potential – which had yet to be unleashed – of a product that had always been much more than just a biscuit.

Originally, it was only one of many products in the Mulino Bianco portfolio. And yet, Pan di Stelle has always been a product that was a little more special than the others, ‘subversive’, dreamy: the indulgent spirit of Mulino that had never been placed in the spotlight while it remained within the range. But there has always been a ‘world of dreams’ inside Pan di Stelle, and that’s when the idea of turning a simple, yet highly poetic and evocative, product name into nothing short of a true ‘Brand’ first dawned.

In some ways, the process was similar to what happened with GranCereale that nevertheless, in terms of its market positioning and range, has a much more descriptive, functional, rational profile. In contrast, Pan di Stelle has always possessed powerful emotive, bonding, communicative, dreamy, iconic imaginative connotations, as if it had always been the ‘nocturnal’ version of the diurnal Mulino world.

The key to Pan Di Stelle’s success was that moment of insight when it was decided to use the biscuit’s more iconic characteristics – its colour, the stars, its shape – as the foundations upon which to build the brand’s identity. This, above all, meant acquiring the ownership of its brown as an equity colour; a choice that was beyond daring when it comes to branding but totally natural for Pan di Stelle: a chocolate and sugar biscuit, a patch of the night sky, stolen with all its stars.

It’s a simple story upon which it made sense to build a fairy tale, but it was, above all, an unprecedented event in the history of branding: one of the best examples of how a product’s design layout, text and colour can become a brand’s visual identity.

And it seemed only natural to gradually add other products to this new brand over time, a range of different items that nevertheless unconditionally confirm its ability to act as a ‘platform’, marking the brand’s passage into ‘adulthood’. Indeed, it was at this stage that Pan di Stelle became almost entirely independent, preserving its association with Mulino, which now only served as an endorser.

The brand then made another leap forward, creating an identity that, though consistent with the previous version, was revisited in a more minimal, adult, design-focused key compared to the slightly childlike fairy tale connotations that it risked adopting. This was perfectly in keeping with its market positioning because Pan di Stelle has never claimed to be a children’s product; instead, it’s a biscuit for dreamers, young and old.

An eclipse appears in that round patch of the sky: a biscuit in a cocoa-coloured sky shifts to the side, revealing a magical light. That illuminated patch of sky can now be much more than a biscuit: it can be a cake, a snack and, above all, it can become a spread.

And it does this with a strength that no product has ever demonstrated before when entering the territory dominated by this particular market’s ‘Goliath’. Many have attempted to explore this market in the past, mostly focusing attention on their product, but no one had ever really managed to become David because no one had ever emerged with an equally powerful image, with equally emotive, affective connotations and with such a unique signature identity, even potent enough to allow it to change the rules of the game. With that extra touch – biscuit crumb sprinkled into a creamy spread – Pan di Stelle has shown that it has the will to do things differently which, in a way, changes and redefines the pivotal features of this category.

So those who once made biscuits now make spreads, and those who made spreads now make biscuits, and things could move forward in any direction, to the delight of dreamers and sweet-toothed foodies.

It’s a story of products, companies, brands, categories and consumers; but, above all, it’s a story of dreams, sealed in a jar of creamy spread and topped by a round patch of sky.



Roger Botti
General Manager and Creative Director