We all know that packaging does more than serve as the container for your product, and that labels do more than tell consumers what’s inside. They’re both key manifestations of your brand. So, why do some marketers shoot themselves in the foot when it’s time for a packaging redo?
Here’s an example. My favorite brand of shampoo recently changed its packaging and labeling from the bright color/white lettering I could easily spot on the retailer’s shelf. Because I believed my favorite brand was no longer available I reluctantly purchased a competitor’s brand. A few weeks later I found that my product had been there all along, disguised in reshaped, resized and redesigned packaging with a new font that made it hard to see and read the product name. Worse, the debut of the smaller packaging was accompanied by a hefty price increase.
Truthfully, it was time for the brand to make a change. The once trendy packaging looked dated and stodgy. As for the price increase – manufacturers are in business to make a profit and sometimes you have to increase prices. The problem was that the packaging strategy and rollout seemed disconnected to the brand, and the consumer’s potential reaction completely overlooked or ignored.
So, how do you ensure your packaging strategy achieves business objectives without alienating customers?
Start with your brand positioning strategy. Once established, your brand positioning strategy shouldn’t change radically. But it is important to make course corrections from time to time as your market evolves, your product matures, and competitors innovate. Regularly revisit the core components of your brand positioning strategy to ensure your brand maintains relevance in the marketplace. A recent example: PepsiCo Inc. abandoned the 59-ounce cardboard cartons for their Tropicana Pure Premium juices and replaced them with clear plastic carafes when research showed that “consumers like to see the juice.”
With a solid brand strategy in place, plan how your packaging can reinforce the brand to your core target audience. Ensure the brand strategy is communicated to the design team. Keep an open mind and evaluate concepts based on the brand strategy rather than personal preferences. Test concepts with your target audience, but use feedback as a guide, not a dictate. No component of your packaging is inconsequential – make sure that all elements, including the label, work together to sell the brand and are easily distinguished from competitors.
These days, consumers are more focused on value than ever. If you need to change sizing, raise prices, etc., remind customers why your brand is the best choice for them. Leverage your packaging strategy to create opportunities to reinforce the brand’s value proposition.
Once launched, communicate new packaging to retailers as well as customers. Use display materials and product merchandising to make it easy for customers to find your product. Utilize advertising (traditional and online) social media, email/direct mail materials, press announcements, etc. to tell loyal customers what to expect and how to find products with the redesigned packaging. Consider product promotions to bridge price increases to keep customers from straying to the competition.
Packaging redesigns are important components of an effective brand strategy. Sticking to the above guidelines will maximize your chances of attracting new customers without confusing or losing loyal ones.
Starbucks (SBUX) has pulled the plug on Seattle’s 15th Ave Coffee & Tea, an independent-café-like concept store to provide a “real-time, real-world exploratory environment” for their designers. The company still operates another “indie-model” testing lab, Roy Street Coffee. Investorplace.com 1/11/11
General Motors (GM) Chevrolet division has introduced a new subcompact brand, Sonic, emphasizing that the Sonic will be built in America, and provides 138 hp, 40 mpg on the highway. Buick has introduced Verano, the smallest car in its lineup in about 20 years. AutoNews.com 1/11/11
Groupon, the site that sells daily coupons for local businesses, has raised $950 million from investors, the largest amount raised by a start-up. The investment follows Google’s $6 billion bid for Groupon, which fell apart last month. HuffingtonPost 1/10/11
McDonald’s new Fruit & Maple Oatmeal must contain 100% maple sweetener in the maple product to use maple in the name, says the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. According to the VAA “there is no actual maple in the McDonald’s product being advertised.” Slashfood 1/10/11
Crumbs Bakery, the largest chain of cupcake bakeries, is going public in a reverse merger worth $66 million. The deal is expected to close next month. Business Insider, 1/10/11
Arm & Hammer, maker of kitty litter product "Super Scoop" is asking a Federal Court to stop Clorox, maker of “Fresh Step” from asserting in a commercial that cats prefer Fresh Step. The suit argues that "It is not possible scientifically to determine whether cats view one substance to be more or less malodorous than another substance." NYDaily 1/5/11
Lay's Kettle Cooked potato chip brand is using handcrafted wood billboards to reinforce their "all natural ingredients, crafted with care,” and to launch new flavors Crinkle Cut Spice Rubbed BBQ and Harvest Ranch. BrandFreak 6/4/10
The New York Times wants the Wall Street Journal to stop using the slogan “Not Just Wall Street. Every Street” in its advertisements because it owns the line. The Wall Street Journal says they are within their rights to use the adding “We never intended to run the ad for long. We think we’ve made our point. And to get rise out of you is a special bonus.” PaidContent 6/4/10
“Toning shoes” are driving market share gains for Adidas AG’s Reebok unit and Skechers U.S.A. Inc. as Nike’s lead in U.S. women’s athletic footwear shrinks. Nike, the world’s largest athletic shoemaker, says the shoes don’t work, and women thinking of buying toning shoes should buy its Free brand, which simulates barefoot running to strengthen feet and muscles. Bloomberg 6/3/10
The Federal Trade Commission has scolded the Kellogg Company for making “dubious claims” that Rice Krispies cereal provides children with health benefits. The company was recently told to stop making similar claims about Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. The Consumerist 6/3/10
”McDonald’s is not releasing or testing a new boneless rib product called “McRibble.” The company says that a supposedly leaked ad for the new product is a hoax. The Consumerist 6/3/10
Ford Motor announces that it will discontinue selling Mercury models this fall. Originally conceived by Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son, the Mercury brand was launched in the 1930s to fill the gap between basic Fords and luxury Lincolns. New York Times 6/2/10
British Airways says a fictitious boarding pass pictured in an employee publication, and bearing Osama Bin Laden’s name and flight details was a mistake, and has apologized. The Daily Mail reports the gaffe may have been the result of "sabotage" by a "dissatisfied staff member,” and may be related to “a standoff with cabin crew that has led to mass strikes." USA Today 6/3/2010, The Daily Mail 6/1/10
The National Basketball Association has signed licensing deals to enable NBA team logos made of sugar, starch and food cloring to be placed on pizzas after they have been baked. Consumers will also be able to purchase toasters $34.99 toasters that "burn" golden brown team logos onto bread as it toasts. USAToday 5/26/10
Apple (AAPL) has sold more than two million iPad tablet computers since its launch on April 3rd. Techcrunch 5/31/10
Wal-Mart (WMT) is cutting prices an average of 30 percent on 22 foods and other essentials, restoring brands it previously dropped, and replacing trendy clothing with basic styles to reinforce their brand positioning and fight competition from dollar stores, local grocery chains and other big box retailers. Huffingtonpost.com 5/29/10
Ford Motor Company (F) says it’s reviewing its portfolio of brands and specific nameplates but won’t confirm it plans to kill the Mercury brand. LAtimes.com 5/29/10
A key attraction of Procter & Gamble’s (PG) purchase of Natura Pet Products is thought to be access to Natura’s distribution channel of independent pet stores. But pet supply retailers have taken to social media to protest that the buy will adversely affect them. Advertising Age 5/29/10
Heineken has launched "Your Heineken", enabling European consumers to personalize Heineken sleeves with provided photography/images, see 3D visualization of their creation and order the six-pack of Heineken. Mediabistro 5/28/10
When guests check in at Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) brands – Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites – on the Gowalla mobile social network via their mobile phone between now and Aug. 31, they receive “Hit it Big” rewards including loyalty points, double air miles, retail gift cards, etc., to promote IHG’s loyalty programs. Mobile Marketer 5/28/10
Time Warner and NBC Universal do not plan to convert their existing Flash-authored videos to HTML5 format so they can be viewed on Apple’s new iPad. PCMag.com 5/28/10
Ann Taylor (ANN) apologizes for altering images of models on their web site to make them appear perfectly shaped and unnaturally slender. Jezebel via BrandFreak 5/28/10
Kraft (KFT) is targeting women 35-54 with their recently launched Sandwich Shop brand of flavored, restaurant-inspired mayonnaises. Brandweek 5/27/10
Procter & Gamble (PG) has relaunched the Pantene brand with a new campaign and a contest that announced the “First Reality TV Hair Star,” during NBC's season finale of The Biggest Loser: Couples. Brandweek 5/27/10
Pabst Brewing Co., the maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz, will be sold to food investor C. Dean Metropoulos. Pabst Blue Ribbon is seeing a resurgence in popularity 20-somethings. HuffingtonPost.com 5/26/10
Unilever, the world's third-largest maker of consumer goods behind Procter & Gamble Co. and Nestle SA, wants to buy Sara Lee Corp.'s worldwide body care products business and its European detergents but the European Union says it needs to examine the effect the deal will have on competition in European markets. Forbes 5/25/10
Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, is voluntarily recalling one of its ready-to-eat salad mixes in 27 states because of possible salmonella contamination. KITV.com 5/25/10
Kimberly-Clark Corporation introduces trendy diapers with the launch of their limited edition Huggies brand Little Movers Jeans Diapers. The jeans have a printed denim pattern, including seams and back pockets. Some networks refused to run the ads promoting the new diapers because they contained the word “poo.” NYTimes.com 5/24/10
Kraftis launching a new campaign that “centers on the moments of exultation moms and children alike derive from eating the cookie, that will replace its eight-year-old “Cookie Guys” campaign. The new tagline: “There’s a lotta joy in Chips Ahoy!” Brandweek 5/23/10
7-Eleven is launching a six week promotion, beginning June 1, with Zynga, a maker of social games, to offer FarmVille, Mafia Wars ad YoVille-branded items on Slurpee and Big Gulp cups, bottled water, signature ice cream and more in its 7,000 stores. Techcrunch 5/23/10
Burger King is offering bone-in pork ribs for a limited time, priced at $7.19 for an eight-piece meal, in an attempt to wean customers off the heavily discounted budget deals that have become common among many quick serve brands. Brandweek 5/21/10
The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has launched eStore, an online shopping site featuring P&G brands including Tide, Pampers, Olay, CoverGirl, Swiffer and Febreze. The main function of the new site, which is owned and operated by PFSweb, is to “act as a ‘living learning lab’ for developing e-commerce innovation to win with shoppers.” The eStore offers a single flat rate for standard shipping of $5, regardless of quantity or product size. The Procter & Gamble Company 5/20/2010 via Techcrunch
I’ve been using this product that I love, Alpha Hydrox, for a couple of years. It’s not easy to find in stores so when I do find it I stockpile it. My current stash is running low so I went online and found the Neoteric website, maker of Alpha Hydrox.
This video, from the Neoteric website, depicts company employees, including the CEO, thanking customers for purchasing their products while acknowledging that 2009 was a challenging year and that their brands are sometimes difficult to find. Because the video, for the most part, is free of corporate speak, focuses on issues that will resonate with customers, and the production values are modest, the company comes across as genuine, earnest, and trustworthy---qualities that encourage emotional connections with customers, a key component of successful brand building.
You know what else I like about this video? 'Thank you' seems to really mean thank you, and isn't used as cover for a marketing ploy.
Kraft (KFT) seeks to reinforce the ‘fun’ positioning of its Ritz brand to appeal to a younger audience with a new spot entitled “Tailgate,” to run prior to the Super Bowl. BrandWeek 1/9/09
Sony (SNE) produces "Make Dot Believe," a :90 cinema spot that positions the brand as having the ability to make anything you can imagine real. See spot at AdFreak 1/8/09
Imaging brand Polaroid has signed a “multi-year strategic partnership...[that] brings together one of the world's most iconic brands with today's fastest rising musical artist and cultural trendsetter." The company says they will be partnering with Lady Gaga to “bring new and exciting products to the next generation." AdWeek 1/7/09
Nestle Hot Pockets have signed a multi-year sponsorship and product integration deal with Professional videogame organization Major League Gaming. AdWeek 1/7/09
Despite opting out of the Super Bowl for a second year, FedEx (FDX) says that sports has “paid some significant dividends over the years.” The company participates in several sports via the Orange Bowl, NFL, the NBA, PGA Tour, FedExCup and Nascar. AdWeek 1/7/09
A new brand campaign for Procter & Gamble’s (PG) Tide detergent communicates how “Tide enables its loyal users to dress for success, to impress or just for fun.” The strategy attempts to differentiate Tide from lower-priced alternatives in a commoditized category. New York Times 1/7/09. It has been reported that P&G introduce 30% more new products this year than last to avoid price-cutting. Promotion of the company’s premium brands, including Olay skin cream, as well as Tide, is planned as a way to “smooth the way for new products.” Wall Street Journal 1/7/09 (requires subscription.)
Expedia (EXPE) is positioning its brand as the site that offers "more choices" and "more savings." A debut spot uses shows multi-dimensional building blocks being used to create the “perfect girl’s weekend.” BrandWeek 1/7/09
Apple (AAPL) has purchased Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company. Most analysts believe that Apple is less interested in profiting from ads than in providing a way for developers who build applications for the iPhone, or a future Apple tablet, make money. New York Times 1/5/09
The Saab and Saturn brands could be headed for oblivion; GM put them up for sale as part of its bankruptcy reorganization in early 2009, but has been unable to find buyers. MSNBC.com 12/30/09
For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi (PEP) ads won’t appear during the Super Bowl. The company plans to place more emphasis on online marketing. Associated Press 12/18/09
The Coca-Cola Company (KO) is partnering with Paramount to develop a line of licensed apparel, glassware and holiday gift items for next year’s 65th anniversary of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Brandweek 12/5/09.
Procter & Gamble (PG) is taking its Tide Swash national this month via e-retailers Amazon (AMZN) and Drugstore.com. Swash targets young professionals and college students by providing a way to refresh and remove wrinkles from clothing without hitting the laundromat. Brandweek 12/5/09
The American Family Association says several brands, including Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, CVS, Kroger, Office Depot, Radio Shack and Victoria’s Secret, do not do enough to recognize Christmas companywide. Brandweek 12/5/09
Bloomberg LP has completed its purchase of McGraw-Hill's (MHP) BusinessWeek magazine. The BusinessWeek issue that came out Dec. 4 sports the new logo. Mediaweek 12/4/09
Charmin has rolled out its fourth annual luxury public restrooms, containing Kohler products, televisions and iPods, in New York City's Times Square. As part of the promotion, "bathroom ambassadors" will blog, Facebook and tweet about the nuances of 'going.'"Brandweek 12/4/09
Pepsi (PEP) has launched Shoppepsi.com, an interactive store where consumers can shop for contemporary and vintage collectibles, accessories and apparel, and read the latest Pepsi news. Brandweek 12/4/09
Puerto Rico is reviving a campaign that was a hit in the 1950’s, to provide “a refreshing change from the traditional sun and surf and palm trees ads you’ve seen from the Caribbean.” The new campaign incorporates photography from the 1950’s campaign for which David Ogilvy wrote the copy. NYTimes 12/3/09
AT&T’s (ATT) has withdrawn a lawsuit accusing Verizon Wireless (VZW) of misleading consumers with ads that show maps with white or gray for places that AT&T does not have 3G coverage. The company complained the maps implied that AT&T had no coverage of any kind. A judge earlier rejected AT&T’s request to temporarily block the Verizon ads saying that while they could be described as “sneaky,” or “simply clever,” they were “literally true.” NYTimes.com 12/2/09
McDonald's (MCD) is swapping its traditional red backdrop for a deep hunter green to promote a more eco-friendly image in Europe. Some franchises in Great Britain and France are already using the new color scheme; about 100 German McDonald’s restaurants will make the change the end of 2009. Businessweek 11/23/09