Friday, 30 May 2014

Packaging - art and science and branding combined.

One of the things I love about marketing is that there are elements of it which to the outside world are an afterthought, but are actually a science and art form in their own right. Take packaging for example. You create a product and to keep it safe for transport you put it in a box and that’s it done, but actually that’s just the beginning.

The average supermarket has 25,000 products on its shelves so standing out from the others becomes paramount. Recent research also showed that 64% of shoppers have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye and 41% have made a repeat purchase because of packaging.

Basically we are all creatures of habit and so distinctive packaging helps us quickly identify our favourite brands among a sea of others. Whether it is colour, shape, fonts, logos, images or a complete design, we hunt out those that are familiar and will be drawn to those that stand out. Walk into any Aldi store and you will see that not only are the products inside the packaging very similar to their branded counterparts but the packaging and especially the logos, colours and imagery are extremely close too.

Unilver, whose brands range from Domestos to Marmite to Impulse, actually have a vice president of design who has a wonderful line about how design should be about creating an addiction. A packages ability to attract must not be done at the expense of the reason it exists in the first place however. Various packaging studies have shown that protecting the product and easy access are still the two most important factors for packaging. No matter how beautiful the box if, when opened, the product is damaged or you cannot open it easily, it puts you off the brand. I’m sure you can all think of examples of when that has happened to you and the effect it had on your desire for repeat purchase.

Packaging needs to do more than look good. It has to be able to transport, store, open and be easy to dispose. Next time you walk down a supermarket aisle though, think about the hours spent on the packaging of every single product you walk past.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant  

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Paper and paste has come a long long way

Once upon a time outdoor advertising was known as the “paper and paste” industry. It was just that, paper posters of different sizes pasted to walls and boards, mainly on roadsides. Like many others it was disrupted heavily by the rise of digital. Although digital has given it a new lease of life in some ways, good old fashioned creative thought has also shown how effective it can be if used well.

In the case of digital the move from static paper and paste board to digital displays has happened quickly and is now not an uncommon sight. Tube stations now have electronic display boards, you see them in toilets, on bus stops - even the good old fashioned advertising hoardings at football grounds are slowly but surely being replaced with digital boards.

What people do with this technology has also changed. Video ads and moving images are no longer clever enough to attract the ad sodden consumers eyes. They need to be themed and stand out. Giant billboards such as the 5 platform length board at Waterloo Station will always scream a message at the 300,000 people a day who see it. Brands have now started to think about how to utilise the technology better with smaller boards.

A great example of this is a recent campaign by Tate Britain in the London Underground on its digital boards. They ran a campaign where underground commuters were updated on the weather through different artworks. On any particular day the weather summary for London was shown and also a related piece of artwork. So when it was cold and snowy the boards showed The Pond by L.S. Lowry.  

This clever thinking has been extended to non-digital outdoor media. Ikea recently branded hundreds of student’s cars in Newcastle and Durham for the same price as placing it in two or three bus stops. Google image “clever outdoor advertising” and you can see great examples from across the world, including my favourite from the Hot Wheels toy car brand who put a branded fake loop the loop on a motorway flyover.

As with all advertising, stand out design, great copy, image quality and understanding ROI are always utmost. However creative thinking and doing something different, as you can see, can truly allow a brand to stand out from the crowd.