Tag Archive 'package design'

An earlier version of this post was one of the most popular I’ve published. So here it is again, 2013 style. Whether you enjoy my comments or not, please let me know. If you have alternate nominations, post them below!

Let’s get started.

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BEST PACKAGE DESIGN

Tea Forte Cocktail InfusionsTea Forte Cocktail Infusions packaging offers gorgeous photography, full of dynamic tension. This is an awesome use of color; it’s simply alive with energy. Understated design architecture perfectly balances the master brand with varietal information. The booth display was majestically staged too. Congratulations on this strong execution!

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Wisecrackers Packaging

There’s so much to like, starting with the name, about Wisecrackers’ flatbread packaging from Partners. The visual flow begins with each plain but tastefully displayed hero image. This perfectly frames the brand badging, a ribbon that floats from one package to the next, multiplying the impact of a contiguous shelf set, and steering the eye across the product range. I think they could improve the layout of the remaining information: the brand descriptor, the flavor name, and the callout points; but that’s a minor point in the overall context. On the macro level, this is a well-balanced, inviting, and highly-effective design system.

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BEST BRAND POSITIONING LINE EMPHASIZING FLAVOR

Vermont Real Sticks Positioning SloganSo many artisanal brands are so darned good to eat that it becomes hard to build a platform on taste alone. I always find it enjoyable to see new ways of making the “tastes great” claim. From Vermont Smoke & Cure comes this winning line: “Damn Fine Flavor You Won’t Find Anywhere Else.” It ties a reason-to-believe (Vermont) to bold colorful packaging, with a folksy, genuine promise. All in eight simple words.

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REPEATED THEME: PIGS AND CHOCOLATE
Just what fine chocolate has to do with pigs I may never understand. But it’s a connection that’s made so many nice ways in artisanal branding that I just have to call attention to it.

Hammond's Pigs 'N Taters Chocolate

Hammond’s Candies Pigs N’ Taters bar had an inspiring taste that opened my eyes to the possibilities of combining the two great tastes of bacon and chocolate!

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Vosges Noble Pig Chocolate LibraryVosges three-bar collection, packaged like a set of books, is visually rich and offers strong production values. Along with the name, Noble Pig, it’s guaranteed to catch your eye in an upscale retail environment.

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Bacon Bark from Bear Creek Smokehouse

I don’t care for this package design from Bear Creek Smokehouse. The product is probably too expensive for the average retail offering, and in contrast to Vosges’ approach, it lacks the design sensibility needed to stand out on a more upscale shelf set. But hey, it’s got pigs and bacon!

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Truffle Pig from Hagensborg Chocolate

This offering from Hagensborg Chocolates is not only well-named, but features an appealing design that makes me believe something delicious is inside.

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Fat Toad Caramel from Fat Toad Farm

Not quite pigs and chocolate, but toads and caramel comes from the same school of brand imagery! Kudos on the execution from Fat Toad Farm.

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MOST ARTISANAL PACKAGE DESIGN

Blackberry Patch Fruit Syrups, Most Artisanal Packaging winner, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013

This simple two colors-on-white presentation, combined with equally simple illustrations and an appropriate typeface, gives Blackberry Patch a strong home-made appeal. You just know this belongs in a guest house or on any special dining table.

.Bonnies's Jams, a winner for Most Artisanal Packaging, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013

Bonnie’s Jams accomplishes the same task with one color and an attractive “handwritten” font. It works, but as a design consultant, I’d like to see better varietal differentiation, especially when the label covers up so much of the product. But don’t think I wouldn’t love to have a couple of jars in my fridge right now!

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Grace & I, winner Most Artisanal Packaging, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013Grace & I, winner, Most Artisanal Packaging, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013

The name and visual identity of Grace & I’s line of fruit & nut presses and condiments are unique and original. The double entendre is intriguing; is the brand about personal redemption or partnership? The visual is a little coarse, like homespun fabric. It’s all just perfect for an artisanal brand.

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BEST USE OF COLOR

It’s a four-way tie in this category, demonstrating once again, the power of color to engage the customer, differentiate varieties, and establish a brand proposition.

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Maya Kaimal Indian Simmer Sauces, winner, Best Use of Color, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013Provenance, or place-of-origin branding, can be a powerful brand platform.These otherwise simple labels for Maya Kaimal Indian Simmer Sauce work from a palette of colors that instantly evokes the visual richness of Mother India herself.

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Republic of Tea Be Active Teas, winner, Best Use of Color, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013The Republic of Tea created this energetic color palette for its Be Active line of herb teas. Leaning also on its healthy-looking sans-serif type treatment, this line has an upscale feel that lends credence to the functional claims the product names imply.

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Taffy from Sweet Candy Company, winner, Best Use of Color, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013You can’t get more summery than this packaging from Sweet Candy Company. These bright and charming gift boxes say just about everything that needs said about what comes inside.

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Siggi's Swedish Style FilmjolkYou don’t need a lot of color to use color wisely! Siggi’s provides a splash — in the illustrations on its otherwise pure white containers. It conveys a healthy, delicious and gourmet image.

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MOST ORIGINAL PRIMARY PACKAGING

Found Beverages, winner, Most Original Primary Packaging, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013The unique shape of Found beverage packaging from Australia, along with the strong graphic presentation, were a nice “find” at the show. I loved the enthusiasm and positive energy of its manufacturers, who were able to slow me down long enough to pass along their vision for an environmentally conscious beverage company (carbon neutral, pesticide free and more) with label-free glass bottles that encourage adaptive secondary uses.

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Bornay Desserts Orange Sorbet, winner, Most Original Primary Packaging, chosen by Goldforest on Branding, Fancy Food Show 2013It’s not the retail packaging for this line of sorbet treats that thrills me. (The design seems more appropriate for home décor than food.) No, it’s the use of a real orange for the primary package that surprises in this presentation from Bornay Deserts. Along with sorbet-filled watermelon wedges, coconuts and other natural casings, the use of real fruit to contain and serve frozen desert earns applause for impact. You can’t get more original than this! (Although you could get a more heroic looking photograph.)

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MOST UNFORTUNATE BRAND PRESENTATION
No idea can succeed without proper execution.

Sweet Potato Crackers from Millchap

Characters that animate products, mascots if you will, must be instantly loveable. The bar has been set high in this approach to branding. For Millchap Sweet Potato Company, the image on its line of salt and savory crackers more closely resembles a rough concept than a final design. It is unappealing in this presentation, and probably not worthy of the product inside.

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gimMe Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Having presented for client consideration thousands of product names, I know that colloquial phrases and unique spellings can provide a strong brand foundation. The challenge is in knowing the line beyond which shoppers may struggle to read or understand your proposition. I feel that gimMe all natural Roasted Seaweed Snacks, a Sofi Awards Finalist, has crossed it.

Maybe it’s the capitalization. Maybe it’s the lounging turtle. But I don’t think they’ve succeeded in conveying the intended “gotta have it” feeling with the product name. For that matter, the pedestrian photography does not match the upbeat, almost whacky mood of the rest of the package design. I’d love to be asked to convey this product’s Sofi-winning qualities in a more compelling way!

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Tukas Brand Tomato Paste

Unless your target market is extremely focused, cultural sensitivity should be liberally applied before the brand name goes on. This Turkish brand is more than 50 years old. That’s long enough to know what tukas means in American slang. This is the tomato paste equivalent of selling the Nova automobile in Mexico.

That’s my take on the show folks. I had a great time. Met lots of interesting people. And as you can see, found plenty of great design!

And I was serious when I said you should leave your thoughts. The button is just below.

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If you scanned the QR code on the promotional piece you received at the Fancy Food Show, you’ve come to the right place. Please review the slides below to see some of Goldforest’s brand-building work. It’s all based on strategy and backed by consumer research. Like what you see? We’re available to help juice your existing brands, create new ones, consult on strategy, or meet with your team to facilitate a day-long learning and brainstorming session.

Interested? Call Michael David Gold at 954-929-7790. If you’re still at the show and want to meet him face to face, call his cell at 305-984-9971.

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If you sell artisanal foods or beverages, or if you sell something that breaks out of better into best, you’ll be at the Jacob Javitz Center from June 30 to July 2 this year.

The economy continues to bubble. The recovery is real for a meaningful proportion of previously shorthanded Americans. Retailers feel it. They’ll be at the show looking for the next big thing, and doubling down on the last big thing. They’ll be helping some brands earn profits for their owners, and signaling hardship to others who can’t meet their standards or demands.

Yes, the show is a heady game whether you purvey or peruse. It’s a big investment that signals you are stepping up to the plate.

Let’s find out what’s in store after you arrive. What do you fancy from the Fancy Food Show?

Fancy Food Show Swami

What would YOU ask of the Swami at the Fancy Food Show?

Here are some questions you might consider asking the business Swami you just might find as you arrive to set up your booth.

  • How do I get profiled by Good Morning America within hours of the doors opening on Sunday?
  • Will I get one major distributor to fall in love with my line?
  • Can my products in the new product showcase win an award?
  • Is my goal of opening 70,000 case orders to two new accounts realistic?
  • How do I solve my cash flow problems?
  • Can I get my booth moved within sight of my biggest competitor, and away from that practical joker with the buttons and pinwheels?

You can pick your own questions of course.

What do you think the Guru would say?

“All that you wish for can be achieved if you can answer ‘yes’ to the following question.”

You lean forward, forgetting to breathe. Your lips are dry.

She opens her eyes and looks deeply into yours. You melt just a little.

“Are your brands meaningful?” she asks, and returns to her meditation.

“What?”

Graciously, she opens her eyes again. “What do you promise of value? Would your package tell me that? Would I care?”

“Well,” you reply, offended, “I suppose someone who sits on a mat all day communing with the infinite might not care about something as mundane as $24 a pound yak jelly, but then you’re not really my market, are you?”

A kindly monk takes your elbow and ambles you along.

“A moment please,” the swami gestures with a precise nod to her courtier. He releases. “You got yak jelly?!”

That's a Yak! Creative Commons Credit: http://bit.ly/fYFX4r

Your inner salesperson takes over. You have her ear, if not yet her heart. You tell her how the hooves of 16 adolescent yaks are required to crush each bud of the florid bangtao bush, hand selected from volcanic slopes on the Sumatran coastal range. In February. And then  only when the moon is gibbous. And so on.

You show her the delicate packaging you’ve designed, with a natural finish and hand-written font. It explains that your profits support sustainable forests.

You describe your scalable production network, and assure her of domestic warehousing capabilities.

Just then, Robin Roberts emerges with her crew from the new product showcase warren. “Did someone say Yak Jelly? I just saw that package. A word with you please!”

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In today’s world a viable brand is the closest thing there is to a silver bullet. It’s key to earning sustained premiums over the cost of production. It drives the market value of your company, gets you shelf space when there are no facings left, is raved about by customers to their friends, and it just might be the thing that saves you from ruin in a PR crisis.

Yak Jelly

Earliest known image of Yak Jelly. Based on Creative Commons Image: http://bit.ly/1a7FqEo

Creating a brand, on the other hand, is so difficult that most products content themselves with commoditized returns, and live in fear of the next retail reset. They’re like dogs chewing off their own tails each time new concessions are demanded.

If your products are brands then you know that your brand is your entire offer. In fact it’s the only thing you CAN offer. This seems basic, yet executives at many CPG firms still treat the brand as a box they can check; it’s not at the core of every decision. You’ll find people like this in small companies that won’t get a shot. And you’ll find them, surprisingly, in some very big companies as well.

But when I meet with thriving companies and those on the verge, I usually find someone who gets the importance of brands, and knows how to manage them.

Which kind of company are you? You might think about that as you prepare for The Show this year. You might consider it as you ready the list of things you fancy.

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Devcon Home Super Glue

New branding for Devcon Home features vibrant color, lifestyle photography, simplified bullet points, and a more relevant slogan, "For Everything Worth Fixing."

ITW Consumer, a division of the Fortune 200 firm Illinois Tool Works Inc. has been rolling out revised packaging with recently developed, more consumer friendly brand positioning. The packaging features a new slogan, “For Everything Worth Fixing,” as well as vibrant color, a simplified bullet point system, and lifestyle photography that introduces the element of human relationships to the brand identity system.

The brand agency behind the new system, Goldforest, began its work two years ago with a strategic consulting engagement to break down the category and recommend updates to the existing packaging. Having developed multiple brands for the DIY channel, Goldforest recommended that Devcon, a long time leader in the epoxy segment whose packaging had been neglected over the years, adopt revised brand positioning in order to make the brand more relevant to today’s DIY consumer.

“Their positioning line, ‘Scientific Yet Simple,’ confused us,” said Michael Gold, Goldforest principal. “The packaging was anything but simple. We spent days in the aisles at major retailers and watched a procession of customers come in, review their options, and walk away in frustration when they couldn’t figure out which product to purchase. Second of all, that slogan lacked the emotional impact we thought this product deserved.”

Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy, Legacy Packaging

Legacy packaging featured the slogan "Scientific Yet Simple," and had a wide array of callout points that were confusing to customers in the contemporary adhesives aisle.

Devcon Home 5 Minute EpoxyDevcon Home Rubber AdhesiveFollowing its consulting engagement, Goldforest was hired to develop and implement a new brand identity system. “The first thing we suggested,” said Mr. Gold, “was to rename the line Devcon Home, to distinguish it from an industrial line of adhesives that also operates under the Devcon trademark.

Next we recommended the new slogan. It recognizes that we’ve gotten used to throwing out rather than repairing, but that some things are precious enough to repair. Images of father and son fixing a bicycle, mother and daughter fixing a treasured object of art, etc. reinforce the human value of fix-it projects.”

The new package design system simplified and organized the presentation of key information and developed a color coding system to distinguish epoxies, super glues (cyanoacrylates), and multi-purpose glues from one another. Goldforest designed primary and secondary packaging for the first fifteen units of the line, and turned the project over to ITW Consumer with a brand identity manual containing guidelines for the design and production of future packages, enabling its client to bring ongoing work in-house.

For information on Goldforest’s capabilities in brand consulting and package design, contact Michael David Gold at 954-929-7790.

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Osem USA, a subsidiary of Nestle, is rolling out a new line of rice, pasta, and other grain side dishes under the name Side Mates. Goldforest, a Florida-based brand consultancy, was engaged to develop the brand identity and packaging for the initial nine boxes and six canisters.

“This was our first full-scale product development effort with Osem USA,” said Michael Gold, Goldforest principal. “We did the name and positioning research, developed the visual identity, and designed the initial line through pre-press. We even wrote the recipes on the back panels! Our overriding objective was to make the product stand out on the shelf, because of the highly competitive nature of that aisle.”

Rings-'N-Cheese 220Pearl-Couscous---Roasted-Garlic-&-Parsley 220

Pearl-Couscous---Portabella-Mushroom-&-Sun-Dried-Tomatoes 220Tuscan-Medley 220

Couscous---Three-Cheese 220Couscous---Roasted-Garlic-&-Broccoli 220

Qinoa---with-Rice-Black-Beans-&-Corn 220Rice-Pilaf 220

Goldforest did extensive shelf-testing against category stalwarts like Near East, Rice-a-Roni, and Knorr, as well as other established brands. The result was a dimensional design with multiple reference planes that emerge from the background. It competes for attention so well, in fact, that Osem USA included a shelf set with competitor brands in its display at the NASFT Fancy Food Show!

The best part about this project, according to Gold, was that “the manufacturer was focused on superior taste and quality ingredients, and it feels terrific to be able to work on a brand that really stands for something.”

Additional images can be seen via slideshare.

Goldforest is a brand consultancy with broad category experience including a specialty in Food and Beverage CPG. For more information, contact Michael David Gold, principal, at 954-929-7790.

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If you’re in the business of making or selling packaged food or beverage products, you’re keeping an eye on the emergence of online grocery shopping sites. I’d like to share some thoughts on the effect this channel is likely to have on the role of package design in the branding process.

Branding Packaged Goods Online. For now, packaging remains the strongest point of contact between consumers and CPGs, so manufacturers have naturally defaulted to using images of packaging to represent the products they sell electronically. But maybe we should take a closer look at that.

Every successful package is a symbol, indistinguishable from the product it represents. A hundred years ago, consumers became comfortable picking these convenient three-dimensional metaphors from the grocer’s shelf. Familiar colors, shapes, letterforms, illustrations and more assured them that the merchandise inside would be as expected.

Visual Identity Architecture: The Value of Brand Graphics

Image © Goldforest2010. The Power of Symbols: You may not be able to read the names of any of these products, but chances are you know all the brands. That’s the power of packaging.

Today online, another abstraction occurs. A low-resolution, two-dimensional image of the 3D package is tasked with representing the product. “Real packages” are designed to achieve so much that these new “flat packages” can never do. Real packages in a competitive shelf set attract your eye at 15 to 20 feet. At body length, they help you differentiate key features. At arm’s length the good ones romance you and teach you about varieties.

What is shopping anyway? Much of the world defines the physical act of grocery shopping as the following collection of actions:

- Walking the aisle

- Navigating the category

- Evaluating competitive alternatives by price and perceived quality, and, with due respect for promotional offers

- Running the checkout gauntlet

Let’s not forget the cart, the bags, the transportation, the homecoming and storage.

Online grocery shopping changes pretty much everything except the storage. It’s growing at a rate exceeding 9% annually, according to a Supermarket News report on recently released market research from IBISWorld. Neilsen projects online CPG shopping growth at a clip of 25% year over year. Why should this surprise us? Click to shop eliminates many of the inconveniences of grocery shopping while still allowing us to browse by familiar categories and popular brands, compare nutritional and price information, apply coupons, and conduct a reasonable facsimile of what we traditionally consider our shopping experience. We can even schedule delivery at a convenient time (if we prefer that to local pickup). The groceries just, well, arrive.

Online retailers have created a number of mostly regional banners, each with its own uniquely branded shopping experience. Go visit a couple (and click your browser’s back arrow to return here):

www.peapod.com

www.shoprite.com (you’ll need to select a store and create an account to browse)

www.netgrocer.com

Did you notice how the product was displayed? Here’s a traditional aisle shown above an image of its online equivalent in the same category. As a consumer, which one looks more shopable to you? As a brand marketer, which one gives you the best chance to make your pitch? Your job online under these circumstances is pretty much limited to negotiating premium placement. But look at your package! It’s so small that  your logo is illegible until the customer enlarges the image. What are you really paying for?

Traditional Grocery Aisle shelf set

An Online Shelf Set

Below are images of packages taken down from the online shelf. If you’re Annie Chun’s, are you proud of this presentation? If you’re shopping for instant rice, how readily can you judge which brand will best satisfy you?

Annie Chun's and Minute Brands' packaging taken down from the online shelf.

Now put your brand marketer’s hat back on. Did you just spend a hundred thousand on a restage of your packaging? Because it’s clear that in the online environment, that’s pretty much wasted money.

Manufacturers who succeed in the online environment will evolve a new set of tools to prosper there. Traditional packaging will lose power as a communications tool. But that does not excuse us from our responsibilities as brand-marketers. Remember, the brand is not the package. The package is often part of the core or extended brand identities, but rarely is it the brand essence.

Online stores may not be a brand-building paradise, yet shoppers are using the channel and retailers are profiting. Alec Newcomb, Chief Strategy Officer for MyWebGrocer, a successful provider of white-labeled online storefronts for grocery chains nationwide, believes the natural market share for this growing channel is 15-20%. He bases this on actual performance in certain markets, including Europe. He thinks a lot about the brand implications for packaged goods. Which is why I called to get his impressions.

The Future. Alec says that “the opportunity for online brand-management is overlooked by all but a few manufacturers. P&G,” he says, “is one exception. They have a team that is dedicated to promulgating accurate, up to date packages that automatically update online through API’s [automatic software feeds].”

I suggested that this is a terrific solution to a digital asset management problem, but it doesn’t necessarily address the branding deficiencies of the online experience. Alec was ready for that. He sees opportunities for marketers to customize their package presentations online to specific retailers based on customer demographics and shopping imperatives. The Amazon customer seeks different benefits than the Walmart customer, for example, and bespoke 2-D package representations for each channel could emphasize different aspects of a brand’s value proposition.

You can extrapolate this line of thinking. Why shouldn’t brand and product messaging be based on individual purchase patterns derived through loyalty card programs or other data mining methods? As long as such tracking methods are legal and ethical, they will be used this way eventually.

The Death Knell? No, online grocery channels are not the death knell for package design. As long as there are physical storefronts, there will be a need for thoughtful and strategic packaging. But online, the long-term solution will inevitably move beyond the façade of pseudo packaging and incorporate channel-dependent strategies to invite, educate and reassure a growing breed of shopper. What an assignment that would be: designing a new online unit that recognizes the limitations of the LCD screen and connects products to consumers as meaningfully as packages on a shelf did 100 years ago.

Online shopping seems here to stay. As its market share increases, so will investment in relevant brand asset management strategies. Brands that fail to keep pace will be fine in the short term, but as long as consumers seek, or accept, meaningful relationships with real brands, our brands must evolve and learn to communicate at every shelf, including the ones made of 0’s and 1’s.

I’d love to hear other ideas on where we’re at and where we’re headed. Please share your thoughts!

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The holy grail of package design is interactivity. If your package makes shoppers stop, and, joy-of-joys, handle it for closer inspection, it’s a guaranteed moneymaker! I’ve looked critically at thousands of food and beverage packages and few of them break through the barriers to shoppers’ consciousness.  The ones that stand out aren’t just eye candy. Their designers have thought through some of the tough challenges to engagement.

Here are five relatively simple things you can do to boost the engagement power of your own packaging.

Visibility Sells. In the olden days, which means before you and I can remember, people routinely selected their foods, both dry and fresh, on the basis of visual inspection. One of the drawbacks of packaging was that it precluded this critical dimension of consumer interactivity. It gave rise to branding as a marketing science to reassure the customer on quality, appearance, and taste without the need for actual inspection.

See Food in Seafood Package

The fish-shaped die cut and wave patterns in the window are not only engaging, but help convey the message that this manufacturer is not hiding anything from its customers.

In some categories, for example produce, pasta, grains, beverages and sauces, clear packaging has evolved that still permits us to admire our foods before we purchase. In others, we have become used to the opacity of the prevalent packaging forms. Yet now and then a marketer figures out how to differentiate from his or her competitors on this basis by changing the packaging structure to allow visual access.

Above is a terrific example of packaged seafood where not only can you see the end product, but it’s presented in an arresting and relevant context.

Visible Candy Pack

Transparent film in the shark's mouth area shows a jaw full of colorful fun! That's cute and engaging for kids of all ages.

Candy is often visible in its packaging; even so, this manufacturer has gone a step further by using the package as a demonstrator of sorts, to emphasize the fun and carefree nature of the candy experience.

Tostitos visible packaging

By presenting Tostitos chips in a serving suggestion context, this clever package design invites visual engagement.

Finally, the Tostitos chip package manages to place the product in a visual context that is one step closer to actual consumption! This is simple but very exciting stuff and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts the sales impact has been positive.

QR Codes have gotten a lot of buzz over the last year, but in spite of their potential, it’s still hard to find really good examples of their use. These codes are cheap to create and place on packages, and ridiculously easy for consumers to access with a smart phone. The problem seems to be a lack of planning in giving shoppers a reason to bother with them. Hint: it’s about overlaying your needs as a marketer with value you can provide customers.

(Need a QR Code reader? Download one quickly from the iTunes store that works for iPhones and iPod Touch. Here’s one that lets you specify your phone and gives you a compatible app.)

For example, if your goal is to induce trial or respond to a competitor’s offer, two very good reasons for traditional couponing, you could offer a mobile coupon via QR code. This publication by the Mobile Marketing Association, though a few years old, is a very good reference on mobile couponing.

On the other hand, if your category is hard to shop, with significant and substantive choice between varieties, a QR code could pay off with category information that can’t be provided on pack due to space limitations.

Below is an example of an otherwise boring looking package with an excellent QR payoff in a site full of recipes and nutrition information. Go ahead and scan this code right from the screen image below!

Strauss QR Code

Go ahead and scan this code. It's not a waste of time.

And here is one I find a waste of time as a consumer. It takes you to the brand web site where you are free to browse for recipes. Do they really expect customers to search through a web site while standing in the supermarket aisle? This approach does not respect the customers’ interests and is likely to turn them off from further use of QR codes.

Vidalia QR Code

This package employed a QR code without having fully considered customer engagement issues.

In addition to couponing and web site linking, QR codes can be used to show videos, promote contests, download pdf documents and more. Regrettably, a recent study showed that only 18% of those who scanned the codes found the information from them useful. Fortunately, consumers are still adopting QR reader technology and there is time to turn these tags into a valuable tool for engagement.

Multicultural Awareness. We’ve all heard that by 2050, Hispanics will outnumber non-Hispanics in the US marketplace. But you don’t have to wait till then to start inviting this burgeoning ethnic minority to your brand party. Hispanics already wield over a trillion dollars in purchasing power with a per capita spend that’s up 108% over the last decade (compared with 49% for the mainstream majority segment).

Depending somewhat on their country-of-origin heritage and generational status, Hispanics are known to be adventurous in their taste preferences, and to consume a wide variety of foods in addition to culturally traditional dishes. They are also known to respond strongly to communications in their heritage language. At a minimum your package might provide product name and flavor/variety information in Spanish. If you’re serious about this segment you can invest considerably more in a Hispanic packaging strategy.

Hispanic Packaging - Milk

It's not hard to show your awareness of Latino culture in the marketplace. But beware: it's easy to offend when you proceed without genuine understanding. Cultural traditions and basic Spanish vocabulary vary widely from country to country. Although it is tempting to rely upon a bilingual employee for advice, a Pan-Hispanic approach requires expert guidance and translation.

Be forewarned: if you provide any of the FDA required package information (including name, ingredients, nutritional information etc.) in Spanish, you must provide all of it as such. Don’t tell anyone you heard it here, but if you look closely, you’ll find this requirement is often overlooked.

Health Oriented Claims. By law, food packages must be truthful. But there is significant leeway in the interpretation of a number of health-oriented label claims; the result is that less healthy products can sometimes be made to seem more healthy than less aggressively marketed competitors.

As a product marketer, it’s your job to know the limits of the claims you are allowed to make before doing your final copy edit, and you’ve got to make those decisions in the competitive context of your own category.

For example, if there is the least bit of whole wheat added into a refined flour recipe, some manufacturers will legally claim their product is “made with whole grain.”

Wheat Thins Package

Not just whole wheat, 11 grams of whole wheat!

Wheat Thins brand crackers, on the other hand, make the more substantive claim that there are 11 g whole grain in every 31g serving.

Fat-Free is defined by the FDA to mean less than .5 grams of fat per serving with no added fat or oil; therefore a small serving size of oil (by definition, a fat) can be advertised as “fat-free.” This is a favorite strategy of faux-butter products and spray on pan lubes.

There are definitions for comparison terms as well. To make a claim of “less” in regard to the nutritional content of one product vs. another, there must be a 25% or more differential in the content of the reference nutrient.

And if your product contains 20% or more of the daily value for a given nutrient per serving, you may legally claim it is high, rich in, or an excellent source of that nutrient.

The rules are complex but clearly enumerated by the FDA, and readily available online. Especially if you are a small manufacturer, know them well to find your competitive stance!

And if your product is truly a healthy one, consider referring to the government’s new MyPlate guidelines. Remember, fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins all play a role in a healthy diet.

MyPlate.gov

According to the US Department of Agriculture, a healthy diet is built on fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Does your product support a healthy diet?

Engagement 101: Good Design and Compelling Copy. It’s shocking how often manufacturers overlook the traditional foundations of packaging that sells, especially smaller firms that can’t rely on a half dozen or more facings to create a brand block on a crowded shelf. A professional package design firm knows how to maximize your shelf presence with color, graphics, typestyles, and more. They’ll test their concepts in a competitive environment to account for rival packaging strategies. They’ll make sure the eyeball’s landing point and scanning pattern is productive. And they’ll craft messaging that differentiates the brand, communicates personality, and incentivizes engagement. This is not a job for your marketing coordinator, your secretary or your sister the English major.

Two Leaves and a Bud Package

Great product name. Strong graphic design. This is a compelling proposition on shelf, especially in a crowded category.

We love the above tea package for its quirky but friendly brand name, it’s plain but tea-serious imagery and honest type. It seems everything a tea package should be, yet looks like no other tea package on the shelf!

Joe Package Design

You'd have to be blind not to notice this package.

Try ignoring this coffee package, I dare you! Bold and atypical, the designer of this package distilled the critical elements down to a minimum: the brand name and descriptor (Joe Coffee), and the common category color of red. Pour me a cup now!

Here’s a new brand identity and packaging for a snack food from my firm, Goldforest. I think it’s fair to say that this package will help shoppers quickly understand that Apple Rumble offers a crunchy, flavorful and healthy snack time experience.

I hope you’ll agree that these ideas are simple enough to implement but have the potential to impact sales of your product. There are many other tactics you can employ. Feel free to comment with your own ideas and examples!

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Late in 2009, National Raisin Company — a Fowler California grower / packer responsible for one out of every three raisins sold in the United States — engaged Goldforest to develop and execute a brand strategy for an innovative new snack food product. National’s R&D department had developed a unique process of flavoring raisins with natural juices from other fruits, adding citric and ascorbic acids and a light dusting of sugar (about 10% of the sugar that naturally occurs in raisins), to create a sweet and sour taste profile that more resembled candy than dried fruit.

Raisels Strategy Chart

Goldforest's key marketing insight was that Raisels could be used to reposition raisins from healthy but "boring" to healthy and exciting, while cookies and candy could be made a bit healthier but would never be perceived as "as healthy" as Raisels, which are, after all, real fruit.

Raisels Packaging

Raisels come in film-wrapped bricks containing six 1.25 oz. paperboard cartons each.

Though preliminary research indicated that people of all ages loved the taste, Goldforest proposed a kid-focused strategy in order to compete directly with cookies and candy as a healthy, real fruit alternative to sugar-based snack foods. Mom might buy the product for her kids, but in the end, it would be consumed by anyone with a sweet & sour tooth.

Sour Orange Burst Raisels

Each Raisels carton is illustrated with a Raisels character interacting with another fruit. Here Ozzie Orange shoots his pal Flying Otis from a canon!

The brand platform Goldforest proposed was fun, friendly and responsible; the Hollywood, Florida brand consultancy developed the name Raisels to communicate a relationship to raisins but at the same time to differentiate the new product. The colorful, energetic packaging features a series of illustrations, one for each flavor, of Raisels characters interacting with other fruits.

Raisels achieved national distribution by the end of 2010, six months after introduction.

Goldforest also developed Raisels’ Web site, and social media presence (via Facebook and Twitter pages), and a brand introduction marketing strategy. This included retailer and media sampling kits, a very successful Mommy Blog tour and a Facebook promotion that netted 20,000 “likes” in one day.

National Raisin Company is America’s largest processor of raisins for private label and industrial sales distribution.

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Goldforest has completed a brand consulting assignment to develop product concepts and package designs for licensees of the iconic Crayola brand. Crayola research and recent experience has demonstrated strong market potential for its brand outside of its core categories involving coloring and other “marks on paper.”

Research showed that baking and gardening rank highly both as outlets for children’s creativity, and as activities enjoyed by kids and parents alike. Goldforest was engaged to develop ideas for product lines and packaging in both areas (30 SKU’s in total).

Both lines were created to meet then current brand identity standards, updated by Crayola at the beginning of 2010.

Crayola Bake & Build Line

With Bake & Build products, kids get the cake molds, decorative plastic trim pieces like the lights, wheels and grill for this truck, and the joy of decorating with all their creative whimsy! Instructions emphasize learning weights, measures and safe baking instructions (always with Mom's supervision).

Crayola Baking Expressions Line

The Baking Expressions line was developed to give children an opportunity to bake basic products with mom, and then decorate colorfully to their hearts content. Instructions come in coloring book form.

Crayola Gardening Tools

Color 'n Grow stick tools are designed in actual Crayola crayon colors, with packaging that doubles as a coloring board. The set on the right contains a gardening diary, seeds and a color-in gardening tee shirt.

Crayola Gardening Tools

The handle of the watering can serves as the box handle too. These sets come with acrylic paints that let kids color and personalize their plant and flower pots. Seeds included.

Crayola Gardening Tools

Frog-face knee pads and hand tools on the left. Gardening boots with acrylic paints in Crayola colors for personalization on the right.

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If you’re a packaged goods manufacturer, you need to know more about QR Codes. That’s short for Quick Response Code, a symbology developed in Japan in the 1990’s. Here’s why I’m excited about their potential marketing implications.

A QR Code looks like a jumble of squares inside a bigger square. This type of symbol can encode a great deal of information, but all you need to read it is a smart phone and a simple downloadable app. (I found a dozen such apps for the iPhone on i-tunes. A free one from Tap Media worked great but included embedded advertising. One that costs $1.99, called quiQR, has a richer feature set and no advertising.)

Creating QR Codes is even easier because there’s nothing to download. At qrcode.kaywa.com I created the code shown below in a jif!

Try it now! If you want to invest a minute to download a scanning app, you can scan my code directly from your computer screen and see the surprise I’ve embedded in it. (Hint: if you “like” what you see, feel free to express yourself.) All you have to do is aim your smart phone at it. Depending on your phone and your app, it’ll either go to work automatically or you might have to take a picture of it.

Sample QR Code

Easy to generate, easy to scan. Once you start playing with them, QR Codes become enticing little gems you just have to check out!

The app then takes over and, in my example, translates the code into a Web address. Alternatively, it might contain a photo or an SMS message.

So why is this big news to packaged goods manufacturers? With a QR Code printed on your package, you’ll find shoppers scanning it right there in the aisle or in the privacy of home. Either way, they’ll automatically receive a message or be taken directly to a Web page with your product or brand related content. Here are just a few ideas of what you could do on such a page:

• Play a video for them
• Offer them a coupon
• Provide nutritional facts
• Show the range of product sizes and varieties available
• Suggest a recipe
• Invite them to become fans on Facebook
• Give them a chance to enter a contest

Here are a couple of twists my partner and I thought of:

• Send them a coupon that can be displayed on their mobile phone and scanned at the register. Instant gratification!

• Use variable data print technology to vary the code that appears on each package and randomize the insertion of multiple prize levels

• Send an SMS message inviting the user to receive periodic promotions via SMS

• Or why not just riff off of the technique being used to promote gulf restoration following the oil spill. A cooperative effort of a number of organizations, it includes giant a QR code on the Thomas Reuters billboard in Times Square linking to a web video and a petition demanding action. Which CPG firm will be the first to use this technology for their own brand building purposes?

QR Code Times Square

This QR code posted in Times Square could just as easily activate a CPG promotion.

The possibilities are limitless, and the end result in every case is a broader, more fulfilling shopping experience for customers who are open to it. That’s an experience brought to them by [insert your brand name here]!

Because QR Codes are a sort of trending phenomenon now, there is a growing curiosity and willingness among shoppers to try them out. But we’re not just interested in early adopters. The smartphone market is growing rapidly. According to a December 2009 article on Cnet.com smartphones are expected to increase to 37% of the cellphone market worldwide by 2014 from their current penetration of 16%. That’s 1.8 billion phones capable of scanning your QR Code. Therefore NOW is the time to exercise leadership, explore the medium and be first to engage!

What do you think? Have any of you used QR Codes? Think I’m wrong about their potential? Feel free to call me out!

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