How does Aldi get away with its product branding?

Ever wonder how Aldi supermarkets get away with their, well let’s not be polite about it, imitation branding?

You know the ones – they look like popular products, but the packaging is a little different.

Well, it all comes down to trademark, because while you can easily trademark a lot of things, such as product shape, a logo, a colour – for example Tiffany’s blue – a pattern and even a smell, there’s a lot less control about the elements that can be used around that trademark. 

So while the Aldi item might not say ‘barbecue shapes’, the packaging designers have carefully used just enough elements to make it different – but so familiar you know which product it is ‘honouring’. 

For example, Aldi may use darker blue on the lettering with a slightly different font, similar packaging and untrademarkable images that other brands use as well, such as cows on dairy products or tomatoes on tomato sauce. 

You think you know your brands well, but your brain only uses a ‘snapshot’ when scanning for the product you want. 

Aldi calls it ‘market cues’ and is unapologetic about its tactics because they work.

An Aldi spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald that the company took “market cues to ensure that our consumers understand what they are buying”.

“Chips are often coloured according to flavours, cereal boxes are generally rectangular, mustard bottles are yellow and cola flavoured beverages have red labelling,” the spokesperson said.

Those cues helped customers to navigate the supermarket but were “never used to mislead customers”.

These tactics are successful because they work. Aldi has only been successfully sued a handful of times. 

When luxury beauty brand Moroccanoil tried to sue Aldi, it lost the initial case and the appeal with a judge saying there “was no real, tangible danger” of mistaking Aldi’s budget product for the luxury item.

Maybe that’s the key – everyone knows what product Aldi is honouring with these strategies, but no-one in their right mind thinks they are getting exactly the same product.

And it’s not like they are new to this or are backstreet operators hoping for a break. Aldi have been pushing the envelope for years – if not decades – and I’m surprised more companies don’t give it a crack.

Aldi ads

Love or hate Aldi, you can’t deny their ads are a little bit bonkers.

There was the woman enjoying a spot of one-on-one trolley time, the middle-aged aisle dancers and last year’s barmy – but relatable – Christmas ad.  

The latest is no exception and plays on both Aldi’s cheap prices and limited range as the checkout operator sadly explains he understands a shopper will have to buy her smoked herring paste somewhere else. There’s rain, sad faces and regret all around. Weird, but it works. 

All very entertaining, but who buys smoked herring paste anymore anyway?

Do you think it’s a bit cheeky for Aldi to ‘honour’ other brands with its packaging. Does it affect how you shop? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Supermarket giant acts to limit self-service ‘mistakes’

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. DO NOT BUY ALDI TV’s or WALL OVENS, HOTPLATES and major appliances!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Being an ex-appliance repairer – numerous customers were caught out with Aldi’s 5 YEAR IN-HOME WARRANTY – only to find that they have no parts in Australia and they just give your money back – and leave you with a useless appliance!!

    Their warranty is NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT IS WRITTEN ON – and they WILL stuff you around for 12 months. Relative bought a wall oven and hotplates, only for the wall oven clock to fail – AFTER $ MONTHS OF LIES AND DEFERRALS – E.G. “You need the licence number of the electrician who installed it before we process the warranty” – THE APPLIANCES HAVE PLUG TOPS ON THEM FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!!

    We found that there were no Aldi Wall Oven clocks in Australia – and we had to go to the closest Aldi – 130 klms away – to get a refund. THEY DIDN’T WANT THE OLD APPLIANCES!!

  2. I’ve taken advantage of the Aldi special deals more than once and rarely remains satisfied beyond the unpackaging and initial use. I always think about all of their profits leaving Australia even when their sugar and flour is Australian grown and processed.
    To me, the chicken breast is too dry and compared to thighs, tasteless. The fat in the thighs adds texture and is a healthier choice overall. (Oils and fats are essential for the body to absorb vitamins A,D,K and E. Just remember that when you try for a “fat free” diet.)
    A note about aerosol deodorants. I recall an opinion that in less than six months use of these aerosols, permanent lung damage can occur, so be very wary about inhaling while the sols are still floating in the air around you.
    The price of the pork represents extremely good value for the consumer and I wonder how the farmers can even break even at what the farm price must be.
    I think that the last time I looked, the SPC baked beans were about the only ones on the supermarket shelf that were actually Australian grown and processed. But them while they are.
    Hunt and Brew do a very, very nice full cream milk. Brought all the way to ‘Queensland from their WA dairies.

  3. I have never liked Aldi for this very reason. They seem to get away with many things that other supermarkets have been pinged for for years. Not having enough items that are advertised as special is one issue. My problem is that they do have many items that are not available anywhere else from other countries that we immigrants loved before we came here For these items, and only these items I do occasionally visit Aldi.

  4. Aldi at Churchill Centre, Prospect South Australia keep their prices lower by LOCKING up their own 250 shopping trolleys. All the customers in Aldi are using the FREE trolleys supplied and maintained by Coles Supermarket. Aldi is blatantly encouraging their customers to avoid the Aldi trolleys. Why deposit $2 when in the centre you are supplied free trolleys by the wonderful Coles supermarket. Aldi does not need to spend money on repairs and maintenance. Maybe Coles should send Aldi a monthly bill for usage, wear and tear of Coles trolleys.

  5. That’s probably the reason why Coles shopping trolleys can be found away from shopping centres, because people are reluctant to return trolleys to their site. Personally I commend Aldi for asking shoppers to insert a coin or token, if they cannot afford a coin, and have all their trolleys returned to their site.

  6. Why in most instances criticise a particular supermarket? Simply choose the one you prefer. Insofar as I am concerned Aldi reigns supreme, as they do in many parts of Europe and elsewhere. Many of the products one buys in other supermarkets also are made or produced overseas.

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