Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category
All products that you can physically hold in your hand come in packaging to the consumer. That packaging is real estate for benefit messaging, as most of us know.
Consumer Packaged Goods companies (naturally) have know this for years, and many a junior product manager at Clorox, Quaker Oats or Proctor & Gamble took their first responsible steps in building a marketing skill set by designing packages that met all product branding and regulatory disclosure requirements and still left plenty of space for marketing messages. A lot of thought went into what should occupy each square inch of marketing real estate on a cereal box, say, or a cleaning fluid bottle.
Other industries took longer to cotton onto this opportunity, especially the financial services industry. Clearly they are cluing themselves in, however, and the proof was in my mail this week. I received two orders for fresh checks, for two different bank accounts:
Examine the images to the right, and you will see that Bank of the West has done a better job of using their available marketing messaging real estate.
Both made a claim on the front of their packaging:
- Chase: “Your checking account comes with way more than will fit in this box.”
- Bank of the West: “Checking that comes with the features and services that you want.”
Round One to Chase. Their claim is more intriguing, and makes no claim to knowing what I want.
- Chase stops there, however, and does not back up its claim. No other panel of the check box has any messaging on it.
- Bank of the West takes the next step and backs up the claims with six messages under each item in the check folio.
Round Two, and the match, to Bank of the West!
I agree with those who may say that the business account check packaging got more marketing attention than the personal check order, as business accounts tend to be more profitable for banks.
I still think Chase missed a chance to print suggestions for services that could further engage me as a banking client.
To quibble a bit with Bank of the West:
- I cannot find all the service suggestions/messaging until I pull off the packet of checks, and only two of the four service messages will appear right away. Important suggestions about mobile banking and using my account’s debit card are still under check packets I may not use for months.
- Chase’s box (albeit with no messaging printed on the inside or back) did fold into a nice, tidy easy-to-store shape. Bank of the West stuck me with a more awkward folio shape that will require a change in how I store checks!
The advantage still remains with Bank of the West in this packaging competition!
Share any packaging brilliance that you have seen lately. I would love to see images of them!
Back before fruit received much marketing treatment, no one much cared that plums somehow morphed into prunes when dried. The same relabeling happens to grapes, which become raisins. Most dried fruits don’t have this issue. Apricots, when dried, stay “apricots,” for instance.
This wouldn’t be an issue if “prunes” had not accumulated a reputation for being the most effective dried fruit to take when you had a need to “regulate your digestive system.” All dried fruit shares the property of being helpful in regulating digestion, but apparently prunes are the king in this department. (Raisins don’t seem to have this reputational issue.)
“If you go back to the 1940s and ’50s some of the brands were advertising the medicinal properties of prunes,” Richard Peterson, executive director of the California Dried Plum Board, quoted in Failure Magzine a while back. The CDPB is an agricultural marketing association that works to expand demand for dried plums.
Even in the 1980′s, the benefits of lots of fiber (and prunes are loaded with fiber) sold lots of prunes. Times change, however, and prunes are not trendy. Which creates a marketing problem for prune sellers: Most people don’t have to regulate their digestion! And they are therefore leery of what eating prunes may do to their currently regular digestion.
Rebranding is Hard – And Takes Money
In order to sell more prunes to folks who don’t need a laxative, prune sellers came up with what looks like the best solution: Take a page from the apricot book and sell “Dried Plums.”
It seems to be working, as dried plum sales to younger people have improved since all this started five years ago. The issue remains complex, however:
Young people will eat dried plums, but not prunes.
- Older folks still seek their prunes, and want that name on the package.
Sunsweet solved this by still promoting “pitted prunes” on packaging, and jazzing up their dried plums in separate packages for the younger set.
Rebranding Takes a Long Time – Are You Going to Tough It Out?
The Dried Plum movement still has a ways to go, however. Take a look at this review of the plumAmazins product, found on SheSpeaks Reviews:
“Prunes are something I associate with my elders and I’ve never knowingly bought dried prunes before and frankly, never even considered them. Figured I’d pack them in my day pack for a quick snack on my commute as I could just trash them. Well, not only did I not trash them, but I ate the entire pack. Then, the next day, I did it again. … They did not seem to be disruptive to my constitution. These singlehandedly helped my move past my prune stereotypes.”
As you can see, the consumer bought dried plums, and in the review kept calling them “prunes,” even using the mixed up term “dried prunes.”! It is clear that he or she pushed past the labeling to develop an opinion of the fruit, but that only happens of the marketing can successfully induce trial. That must remain the driving force of the marketing for a while to come!
Do you eat prunes, or dried plums? Do you allow a brand reputation to drive your decisions, or do you push past the branding to consider the product?
Canadian botanists are in an uproar! Apparently they have spotted an error in the design of the new $20 Canadian bank note.
The leaf image used smacks of “Norway Maple” in the eyes of the botanists, not the sugar maple “that turns nice and red in the Fall” and is represented on the Canadian flag.
The Bank of Canada has responded to the disgruntled botanists by claiming that the maple leaf imaged used is “a stylized blend of different Canadian maple species.”
The Botanists aren’t buying it. They see this as just another step in Canadians getting lazy about keeping their maples straight. And they are especially worked up about an “invasive species” gracing the national currency.
“It’s a species that’s invasive in Eastern Canada and is displacing some of our native species, and it’s probably not an appropriate species to be putting on our native currency,” Sean Blaney, senior botanist of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, told CBC News.
Plus, as Julian Starr, a botany professor at the University of Ottawa, noted to the Toronto Globe and Mail, lately the interloping leaf has been turning up in all kinds of places, including the official logos of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and the FIFA under-20 World Cup of Soccer. The Canadian Television Fund and the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada have also made maple leaf errors, according to botanists.
See for yourself: On the left is a photo of the Norway maple leaf, which botanists say appears on the new polymer bills. On the right is a leaf from the sugar maple, the Canadian species that appears on the national flag. (image: CBC)
The Marketing Lesson
Whether or not your customers are going to spot a difference between images or graphics that you use, specialists will. This goes for value claims you make, too:
- You must be more accurate in what you present to the public than the public would demand.
- You must own your stuff, or clearly declare from whom you borrowed it. (See my image credit above, and my quote attributions.)
- You have to examine what you create closely, and challenge any graphic elements that a designer presents to you as a solution. The designer is tasked with creating compelling visuals, and is not responsible for the accuracy of what he or she presents, although working with one that keeps such niceties in mind is a real bonus. Accuracy is the marketer’s job.
The bank’s protestations aside, I am suspicious that the project team designing the new $20 bill had no clue that the particular maple leaf used was not an appropriate representative of Canada. The designer choose a random image that seemed snappy, sharp and fresh; the Norway maple leaf image the designer chose has a more appealing graphic outline. It is also easier to fit in the circular space allowed it on the new bill. Indeed, the designer may have come up with the “stylized blend” comment as a throwaway part of his or her presentation, to cover up the fact that they didn’t know from what tree the leaf came.
I have seen that happen more than once in presentations in my career. We always called it “thinking fast on our feet” when presented with a question we forgot to consider!
(Apropos of nothing: Why isn’t anyone complaining about that image of the Queen? She looks as sour as the botanists on that $20 bill.)
I went to buy a quart of egg nog last week, and was presented with far more options than I expected. Intrigued by my wealth of options, I had to take a picture of the scene, even though fellow shoppers wondered about me (and delayed their access to the dairy case for ten additional seconds.)
Egg nog is embedded in our Christmas traditions. It appears in the supermarket dairy case right after Thanksgiving in quantity, and stays there until stocks run out in early January. Even if you only like the stuff, you buy a quart just, well, because its Christmas.
Healthwise, of course, its a killer. Per Wikipedia:
“Under current U.S. law, commercial products sold as eggnog are permitted to contain milk, sugar, modified milk ingredients, glucose-fructose, water, carrageenan, guar gum, natural and artificial flavorings, spices (though not necessarily nutmeg), monoglycerides, and colorings. The ingredients in commercial eggnog vary significantly, but generally raw eggs are not included.”
An Egg Nog for Everyone!
True to our free enterprise economic system, non-killer egg nog recipes have been peddled as far back as 1899, when a recipe book by Almeda Lambert suggested replacing the milk or cream with coconut cream (though still including all the sugar and eggs.)
In modern times, the desire to participate in the holiday tradition by drinking at least one cup of egg or egg-like nog has motivated dairy product producers to introduce health-aware “nogs.” As you can see in the photo I snapped at Safeway, the creativity of marketers is clearly on display:
- Silk presents a soy-based “seasonal nog”, which gets around the regulation on what egg nog is, while still clearly communicating its intent. When else do we ever use the word ‘nog’ anymore?
- So Delicious offers Almeda’s idea, using coconut milk to eliminate the lactose, and simply calls it “Nog”.
The egg nog products next to the milk-free ‘nogs’ also go into marketing overdrive:
- Horizon grabs the organic niche, and doubles down with “ultrapasteurized” for those who fear salmonella.
- Southern Comfort goes for the Full Nog: “Traditional” right on the package makes it clear you are getting the artery-clogging drink of yore, with all the comfort that provides. (Although Wired went inside the nog to get the real story on its ingredients.)
Some folks would call this ridiculous, but for the cholesterol-fearing, lactose-intolerant among us, it is a boon that allows them to participate in holiday traditions, and spend a bit more of their discretionary income that might have stayed in their wallets otherwise.
Ingenious adaptations of egg nog are a small corner of the holiday celebration hustle and bustle, but it is a wonderful example of how our market-based economy drives innovation and keeps dollars circulating!
Have a great Christmas-New Years Week!
The magnetic field did not shift, the world did not tilt on its axis, and no meteor crashed into the Yucatan to suffocate us in dust.
This didn’t stop my marketing brethren from making the most of the (mostly tongue-in-cheek) the End Of The World hysteria caused by the apparent end of the Mayan calendar.My favorite so far is the TGIFriday’s logo announcing “Last Friday”. What a simple, yet compelling riff on their normal “celebrate the End Of The Work Week” theme. They offer a “Last Friday” menu that packs in the calories and urges consumers to “go out with a full stomach”!More strategically, travel operators have put together all sorts of themed packages that emphasize spiritual renewal, or simply rest and relaxation.
Typical is the owners of a Russian Cold War Bunker Museum, who have two or three events going on today:
- A real opportunity to hunker down underground with six months of food and supplies, and be the last people on Earth.
- A more realistic opportunity to spend tonight partying like its the End Of The World, and wake up in the same old world with a mighty hangover. (“Have a good rest.” as a Russian might say.) Then gear up for the regular New Year’s celebration ten days later.
Finally, this video put out by a marketing agency with the express idea that it would go viral to promote their creative talents.
To find more fun examples, just do an online search on some combination of “Mayan”, “marketing” and any other descriptors that might intrigue you.
Now that the Mayan Prophecy date has passed, all that creativity has to be redirected. I look forward to what will appeal to creative groups in 2013.
What interesting Mayan-themed marketing “tie-ins” caught your eye? How creatively did the marketer weave in the theme and relate it to their value proposition?
The holiday catalog I received from Heifer International really
hit its marks as a marketing piece. Why I think HI did a great job creating it:
- They had to intrigue me, as I had never heard of them or their mission.
- They made a bold claim: “The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World” Really? How could this possibly be so much more important than all the other catalogs I received this season? I had to find out the answer.
- They added “Special 2012 Holiday Edition” as a further inducement.
- They answered my questions right on page two inside:
They use donations “from people like me” to provide livestock and training in how to care for it to people in disadvantaged locations.
- They had two great explanatory lines that captured their key value proposition:
“You see, giving an animal is like giving a small business. And small businesses can lead to very big changes.”
“Igniting Self-Reliance Since 1944″
Here is an entire organization built around the old adage:
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Heifer International is doing both:
- Giving a person a sheep/goat/cow/llama/bee hive.
- Then teaching that person how to make that gift last a lifetime.
I am impressed! I can’t decide whether to give a flock of ducks, a set of tree seedlings or that bee hive, but I will take action!
If this fits your bill with regards to how you like to help people, check Heifer International out right here.
Enjoy the rest of the holiday season, but find a cause worth supporting as part of how you make the most of your celebrations!
(And if you have an organization that did a great job convincing you to give this year, let us know who they are and how they did it in a comment below.)
I cleaned out a corner of my office this week. Sitting there was a pile of B-Priorities in a neat stack that was starting to ferment, so I finally tackled it.
Out of the stack came some examples of interesting marketing pieces I had been keeping because they had struck me as odd. For each one, I had to figure out what motivated me to keep it. Then I had to decide whether this was still worth a blog post!
Not all of them passed muster, but one in particular stuck out like a sore thumb: A postcard mailer I received from the good brand managers at Crest Toothpaste about a new Optic White 360 product set. The issue: It had no offer on it.
Marketing heresy! Why would a P&G marketing pro invest in a direct mailer that had no offer? To compound the mystery, “Try Now” is set off in a shock of yellow in one corner on the front. This led me to seek the offer: What are you giving me to induce trial, Mr. Crest Brand Manager? Nothing. Deepening the mystery is the fact that you can go straight to Crest for coupons, so why not include one here?
I get the feeling this card lost something in transit; perhaps it came with a sample that was lost or lifted. I could not spot anything like a torn corner or empty staple holes to support that theory, however. Nor did it come in an empty plastic wrapper.
I still haven’t figured it out. If you can lend me some insight, let me know! If P&G is breaking such an ironclad rule of Marketing, there must be a rationale for it. Nothing goes out the door from them without deep scrutiny!
The product managers running the Orbit chewing gum brand got my attention this week at my favorite coffee shop with their brilliant point-of-sale campaign.
The execution (see photo) was perfect:
- Give me a free piece of gum to try
- Position it on a coffee sleeve so that I cannot miss it.
- Remind me that I have a problem (coffee breath) that I will soon need to fix if I want to circulate in polite society!
Here is why I am impressed:
- It met the classic marketing messaging need to “make ‘em sick, then make ‘em better”. I may not realize that coffee stays on the breath, and they reminded me that I could pose a risk to those with whom I may be speaking shortly. Then they provided the instant solution, for free.
- It gave me an immediate benefit, which led me to feel favorably disposed to Orbit when next confronted with a rack of gum from which to choose.
- It’s uniqueness was “breakthrough”: The gum-on-coffee-sleeve delivery was memorable. I am probably the only
person who actually took a photo of the creative, because I blog about marketing and need material. But the regular consumer will still take away a positive impression of the Orbit brand because of the creativity with which they delivered their benefit message.
- Finally, they structured a campaign that the coffee shop would be happy to support: They get to hand out free gum with little investment on their part, and look good to their customers. The memorable event rubs off on the retailer, too.
Great stuff! Well done. How can you apply this idea to your own marketing?
- Where are your prospects congregating?
- What sort of product do they buy on which you could piggyback your own trial offer?
- How can you make it valuable to your partner, your distribution channel and the consumer?
I would love to hear from an Orbit brand manager whether my own positive reaction was typical, but I would be surprised if they didn’t find the campaign a success!
Too many small businesspeople get the relationship backwards between creative design (logos and other “identity” graphics, for instance) and “brand.”
I wrote about this on Forbes.com recently, but let’s review the proper relationship:
Brand ≠ Logo
Brand = Reputation
If you successfully build a reputation for delivering top consumer value for the dollars they spend with you, you will build a strong brand. And you can slap just about any logo on it you want (tastefully), and that logo will become representative of the value you deliver.
I am being a bit flip here: “Just about any logo” is certainly hyperbole, as everything you do has to reflect well on your business. But as a small businessperson, you must create a basic, enduring creative look for your business, and stick with it. Distracting yourself (and siphoning scare money) into a constant overhaul of your “look” is wasteful, and actually confuses your target audience.
Most consumers care little about logo design, and a lot about the quality of your product and service. So, if you had to spend one extra dollar on something, which should it be?
The next time any marketing guy tries to sell you on the idea that you need to “rebrand yourself” with a “new look” to “relaunch” your business, politely show them to the door. That is the last step in a “relaunch,” not the first, and may prove unnecessary at all if you fix the problems that may be hindering your value delivery!
Let me know in the comments if you disagree with me on this!
Here is another link to that Forbes article. Follow me there if you like it! (Share it, too.)
My family ordered a bunch of shoe storage boxes from the Container Store recently, and that outfit really went over the top to use the humble shipping carton and packing slip to reinforce my decision to choose them.
Even Amazon doesn’t match this delivery standard: Full use of a shipping container to present the core values of a company, making the recipient feel even better about his or her buying decision.
How many ways does this work?
- Top-quality materials: The “thank you” folder was printed on high-quality card stock, and contained the order summary. Message: They take my order seriously.
- Order Summary has easy to find and read return instructions. Message: They truly take customer service seriously, not trying to hide anything in fine print.
- The packing tape sealing the carton carried key elements of their corporate philosophy, focused on employee engagement. Message: Your support of our company impacts the lives of all employees, not just the shareholders.
The Container Store has thought through every element of the delivery vehicle, missing few chances to celebrate the order we gave them, and reinforced why we made a great choice. They clearly believe you cannot miss an opportunity to make a good impression.
Make me happy I chose you.
Remember, half of the money a car company spends on advertising is done to reinforce the decision the new owners of their cars made, especially top-end vehicles.
- I will not have the chance to stress-test the Container Store’s commitment to customer service, as we received exactly what we ordered, and all in good shape. And, hey, a plastic shoebox is pretty straightforward to use.
- Nor will I have the chance to interview individual employees about whether management truly follows through on their employee engagement philosophy.
My bet is they would confirm my impressions, so I will keep them on my list until they prove me wrong!