At first glimpse, Dennis Adelmann’s photographs look like the ultimate food porn: perpendicular rows of thinly sliced prosciutto and perfectly ripened avocados, flanked by sprigs of rosemary and slices of freshly baked baguettes.
Mouth-watering? Absolutely. But these still-life shots are designed to serve a higher purpose: They’re part of the branding strategy for Food Throttle, a soon-to-launch company that, for $10 a month, considers users’ nutritional goals–whether to lose weight or eat gluten-free–and offers meal suggestions. Nutrition data syncs to an online profile, which has an algorithm in place to adjust future meals if you cheat or snack outside the bounds of your plan, and your progress is scored. The site also includes a database with 330,000 restaurant menus (because, duh, even people on a diet dine out) and tips from fellow users on what to eat. It’s Mint-meets-Yelp for dieting.
What distinguishes Food Throttle from an industry giant like Weight Watchers (which pulls in almost $2 billion annually, despite that it is losing some ground to online fitness trackers) is style–an important part of a business that revolves around looking good. “The pictures show exactly this mission: healthy food, arranged in a structured and organized way,” Adelmann tells Co.Design. Compare that vibe to the Weight Watchers home page, which looks like a used car sales site that’s trying to offer you 0% financing.
Strategically, the company hopes that a spare aesthetic will help attract more consumers. It has worked for companies in other industries. Consider Tumblr versus the (now-extinct) messier blogging platforms, or Apple stores versus Best Buy. They invoked a visual retail strategy that hit a lofty aspirational note. Of course, whether such a strategy will work in the nutrition space remains to be seen. Dieting is messy business, and the visceral demands of picking whole grains and vegetables over pizza don’t leave much room for appreciating the nuances of a slick branding campaign. After all, those photos can’t pound your wheatgrass shots for you.
Food Throttle plans to launch November 1. Read more here.