August 26, 2015
Your Product Deserves To Be Special (Part 1): It’s All About The Brand
By Lynn Ullman
It used to be that a product living on a supermarket shelf was special. A box of Tide or Wheaties could be an individual, widely recognized for its cleaning power or nutrition. There may have been a few competitors lurking in the aisle, but most of them were clearly differentiated by price, form or features.
That delightful box of cereal could shine even more because it was supported by advertising–lots of it! Advertising that was actually seen, repeatedly, by the right people (moms!). The package only had to be functional; the graphics did little but announce the brand name and identify the contents.
We all know the game has changed for consumer products and the packages they wear. Long before digital platforms were a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye, spending on advertising was in decline for most CPG categories. After all, when was the last time you saw a commercial for oven cleaner or cake mix?
Competition for market share and shelf space has exploded. Supermarkets now carry more than 40,000 individual products. It’s hard to get much attention when you’re in a class of 40,000 other kids.
The competition to earn consumer consideration is worse than vying for admission at an Ivy League school. Yet, there are still two very powerful tools a product can wield–branding and packaging. In this post, we’ll look at how branding can lead to sales, even on the battlefield of the grocery shelf.
Consumers choose a category based on need. But they choose a brand based on emotional affinity. Relevancy is the number one currency for a brand, and it lives in that perfect sweet spot between efficacy and affirmation.
Pepsi will always beat Coke in blind taste tests. Yet, year after year, Coke beats Pepsi in both sales and profits. And any as marketing student can tell you, it’s because Coca-Cola means happiness. Coke is not the best tasting soda in the world, but it is listed as the fourth most powerful brand in the world. Though they don’t hurt, big media budgets or celebrity endorsements alone do not make a powerful brand. Relevancy and authenticity must be at the reactor core of the brand message.
Building a relevant brand starts with both a clear understanding of the marketplace and the psycho-social needs of the target audience. At UPBrand, we rely on a process that includes a variety of research methods and competitive audits to establish how a brand should live within the category, and what claims should be made. Stakeholder interviews and qualitative research serve as a starting point for understanding how a brand should feel to consumers.
We also believe that nothing really matters unless the message is authentic, and consistently delivered. Communicating the essence of a product and the values it represents play an important part in crafting a brand’s position in the marketplace. Then of course, it must be delivered consistently both visually and in narrative, across all channels of communications including the all-important package.
Once you have established the brand, given it an authentic voice, and backed it up with a product that works, it’s time to dress that product before it makes its grocery aisle debut. And that’s where packaging design comes in, a subject for the next blog.