You can recognise an Emmentaler by its big holes, and this was the original sales principle for the first cheese merchants who were looking to sell plenty of it. The theory worked for a few years, but soon the market was full of other manufacturers and plenty of competing products. Something had to be done to remind consumers of the fact that Emmentaler is a unique product, and so in the 1980s, it was decided to add the Emmentaler Switzerland logo to Emmentaler cheeses that were destined for export. But that was just the beginning of the story …
The “Alphorn player” and “crossbow” signets were also added at the same time, printed onto the cheese itself with a stamp using food colouring. This ensured that anyone picking up this cheese knew that they had got themselves a genuine Swiss speciality.
Each cheese also had the date of production and a small sticker added to it, the latter being what was called the cheese certificate featuring a dairy number which meant that the cheese could be traced back to its place of production. Once the cheese was cut up however, it was impossible to find the dairy number or the date.
The 1990s saw the first ever paper labels used to identify Emmentaler cheeses and this system is still used today, though the design has been perfected over the years. The label is now also included across the entire surface and features the corresponding dairy number, and is pressed directly onto the cheese once the curd has been poured into the mould. The cheese label then grows along with the cheese rind, ensuring that every piece of Emmentaler is clearly marked as such and is traceable back to its origin for all customers, even when purchased in sliced form.
The red brand radiating outwards which is featured on every Emmentaler cheese has also become a unique symbol of the brand along with the sign of authenticity. It adorns the cheese and the packaging and is also used in Emmentaler advertising as a symbol of recognition. It has helped Emmentaler Switzerland figure among the top 20 Swiss brands (source: Brand Asset Valuator, Young & Rubicam, 2011).
In more recent times, the cheese label has increasingly been used as a decorative design tool for different product variations, particularly since Emmentaler cheeses can have an additional label stamped onto the underside. This for example gave rise to the Gotthelf Emmentaler – which was produced according to an age-old Emmentaler recipe – which has a silhouette-style cheese label which tells the story of the dairy in Vehfreude as written by Jeremias Gotthelf. Emmentaler Switzerland has incidentally already won a number of international design awards for this creative label. Other examples of special labels include the 1 August (Swiss National Day) Emmentaler with the 1 August speech by singer Polo Hofer and the specially-designed label for the Emmentaler which will be launched as part of the 2013 Swiss Federal Wrestling Festival in Burgdorf.