Know Your Brand and the Rest is Easier

A fun meeting with San Francisco Bay Area housewares execs

Friend and colleague Vicki Küng, co-creator of the Museum of Robots, invited L&A to give a presentation to the Chief Officers Reaching Excellence (CORE) of The International Housewares Association. We spoke about Branding and Packaging, both topics that we had heard cause the members’ confusion and grief.

This was a terrific group of about 30 entrepreneurs — heads of companies, marketers, sales people and product designers. Throughout, their questions were targeted and they sparked suggestions from one another as well as from our team. It was a fun meeting!

We’ve participated in decision-maker groups for many years and this was one of the best organized and most valuable we’ve seen.

The first section of our presentation Branding 101 was a very pared down over-view of a big topic. It’s a subject we’re passionate about. But it was clearly the Packaging portion that most piqued the member’s interest.

We talked about the packaging process, common questions and showed examples of how packaging impacts a company’s image and sales in both positive and negative ways. And most importantly, we shared how packaging is an expression of the brand. If the company gets their ‘brand house’ in order, the packaging process will be a lot easier and more successful.

A few of the topics we covered…

Q: I have a “natural” organic, biodegradable product and everyone in my category is using the color green to identify themselves and their packaging. What can I do to stand out?
A: Try using a bright second color that you can potentially “own” to identify your company. Or find another completely new way to say that you are “green” without using green. Your product isn’t in a box so its “greenness” is easily recognizable by its look and feel, so another color might work very well to make you stand out in a sea of green.

Q: What about QR (Quick Read) codes? Are they here to stay? 
A: Everyone agreed that they are becoming more common as more people use their SmartPhones at point-of-sale to scan the codes, launching a mini-site that allows the manufacturer to instantly have a one-on-one conversation with that potential customer.

Q: What about sustainability? I get questions about it all the time.
A: Our only comment here is to be authentic and communicate and not to ‘green wash’. If you are doing your best to be eco-responsible tell your customers. It’s the lack of honesty and authenticity that is causing companies problems.

Q: I’m being told I need to have a dual language package to sell into Canada. How do I do it?
A: Start with a professional translation group. You’ll need to accurately (and possibly regionally) translate every word of your package and the free on-line translations will not do the job. Remember, French is about 20% longer than English so your package design will want to take that into account. And of course you’ll want to pare down text as much as possible by using icons, symbols and bullet points to communicate the features and benefits. Members contributed that even if the retailer doesn’t require dual-language packaging, your competition may create difficulties so it’s best to handle translation at the start.

At the end of a great two hours, we hope we left the group with our most important message…Packaging is an expression of your brand.

Know your brand and all of your communication efforts— be they in web, packaging or PR— will be stronger and much easier. A thought worth many pennies.