One vital ingredient in the branding mix is packaging, particularly for consumer goods.
In today’s Brandchannel feature, Brandspeak, Ted Mininni writes a commentary called, Advertising Is Dead, Long Live Packaging. It’s a well-reasoned argument for more attention to packaging as an integral branding element, and worth reading.
Packaging is obviously important in consumer purchasing of foods, cosmetics and health products. I’ll bet every one of us have stood in the grocery or drug store isle looking for a particular brand, only to have to ask an employee to point it out for you.. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not my fault. It could be my choice is packaged like all the rest. Or my choice might be so popular that others think they can “steal” sales by copying the familiar package. Or my favorite might just be packaged poorly.
But other product categories, from auto parts to computer printers, can be differentiated through packaging. HP – Hewlett-Packard – does a pretty good job of identifying their products through the multi-color package designs. Their HP blue, logo treatment and placement, product illustration and type selection are consistent throughout their product line. But they’re the exception.
“Packaging” for personal and business service companies is expressed through signage, décor and arrangement. It’s best known in the service industries as “trade dress”.
It is just as vital an element to service providers as packaging is for consumer goods.
So, as you develop your brand, as you build your branding platform, be sure packaging is an integrated element, not just an afterthought.
I finally “got it.”
In the American Express commercial featuring Ellen DeGeneres on a movie lot, there’s a man costumed as a Roman centurion who triggers Ellen’s memory: call American Express for concert tickets. What?
Then I vaguely remembered that American Express used the icon of a helmeted centurion. And I guess they’re bringing “him” back as an identifier.
I don’t know why. In fact, I don’t know why they used it in the first place. What does a Roman soldier from 2,000-years ago have to do with America (discovered about 500-years ago)? He represents neither America nor Express. The winged messenger, Mercury, delivering flowers for FTD works fine. It’s not only relevant, it makes a point about speed.
But American Express should be represented by a minute man or an Indian scout, not a Roman.
They have used a square with the words American Express for several years while the soldier took a back seat in their branding. I guess their research showed customers wanted something a little more personal. So someone remembered they had adopted a figure from the past in the past – never mind that it never fit the company – so let’s revive it.
This is the same short-sighted decision-making that causes the improbable line extensions Ries and Trout lambasted in their book, Positioning – the Battlefield for your Mind.
Oh, well. People do get used to improbable and disconnected brand imaging. With enough money, repetition and consistency, American Express will probably succeed with their historic Mediterranean icon.
And what’s up with that name for a global financial and travel services company? I’ll save that issue for another blog.
This is a true story.
A new logo created by one of England’s top design studios for the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), a department of Briton’s Treasury. It was approved by execs and managers and then introduced with fanfare and brand new pens and mousepads to the employees. Only then had anyone thought to turn the new logo on its side. And then came the snickers, twitters and guffaws.
The logo was supposed to signify a bold commitment to the body’s aim of “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”.
Instead, it became an object of much embarrassment and chagrin.
Read the full story at the Tribune, UK, website.
This happened to me once.
The design I had recommended was a phoenix rising from the flames. But the bird’s head, with beak straight up and only the tops of its wings visible, was just too phallic. Luckily the client thought I was just joking because he saw the reference immediately.
That just goes to show you – check and check again. Get man-and-woman-on-the-street opinions. Review with the though, “what is wrong or inappropriate or just plain silly” with the design, the name, the tagline.
OGC Logo a Brit of Humour?
OGC logo design gets a grip
I’ve been doing a series of blogs about brands that make me scoff – that is, brands that are incredulous.
Usually this incredibility comes from specific ad campaigns rather than from a brand platform. How do I know? Because they’re vacuous.
Strong brands are built upon core values. They’re differentiated from competitors based on attributes the brands actually possess. Thus, believability and credibility are inherent in the brands themselves.
But let the ad agency “creatives” begin writing taglines and headlines as they interpret that platform and the research that accompanies it and the ideas get skewed and exaggerated.
Take today’s example, for instance.
Subaru’s newest TV ads depict folks, one after another, “lovingly” caring for their Subarus. The payoff is this insipid tagline: “Love: It’s what makes Subaru a Subaru”
It’s a distortion. I’m sure Subaru research says that a certain percentage of their customers say they “love” their Subarus. That’s fine. But from there to the idea that love makes Subarus is a giant step.
I’d also suggest that the slogan does not differentiate Subaru from its competitors, nor does it resonate with car buyers who may admit to loving their vehicles but don’t switch to another make because Subaru says their cars are made from love.
No, Subaru was sold a bill of goods. Their agency short-changed them.
It’s a campaign and a brand without substance.