Brand Packaging

Nothing But The Truth

Be honest when packaging and branding a product.

March 1, 2013

I apologize in advance if I get this jingle stuck in your head, and I probably will — it’s been firmly planted in my own mind since the ‘80s. It’s not all that catchy; it more likely has to do with the disappointment it brought me.

The scene: Smiling, full of energy (and full-haired) young adults partaking in wholesome activities like downhill and water skiing, completely thrilled to have packed Juicy Fruit gum for their outing.

The song: “Get your skis shined up/ Grab a stick of Juicy Fruit/ The taste is gonna move ya/ Take a sniff/ Pull it out/ The taste is gonna move ya when you pop it in your mouth.”

My brain processed that jingle as literal: The gum would actually set your body in motion. Embarrassing? Yes, but I was five. Extremely disappointing to be told I was mistaken? Yes. Thanks to the power of messaging, I believed in that brand of gum; it was going to enable me to do amazing things.

Since I was not aged appropriately for Juicy Fruit’s target audience, I don’t (completely) fault the brand for deceiving me. Silly example, but an admonition is still there: If your brand presents a message, it better be true. Otherwise, you risk disappointing your fans (and woe to you if they are actually at an age of understanding).

Consumers have expectations to be met when trying a product. One of the best ways to meet them is by being honest with your audience through the product’s packaging and branding. Companies who care more about the bottom line than the consumer may choose to copy whatever worked for other brands, even if it means presenting a guise not their own. Be aware: Fronts can't be kept up forever, the truth will come out and fans will be disgruntled — a blow from which your brand may never recover.

So instead of mimicking the shape and styles that work for leading brands, understand why a brand is successful: Learning by Example (p.8) and Big League Packaging (p.18) teach you how to analyze why a format and design worked for other brands and how you can apply those principles for your own. But before you even think about designing a product's package, read Ace The Naming Game (p.21a) in the digital edition. Don't get the digital edition? You can; it's free. Go sign up: http://bit.ly/Zh7CfW. And, by the way, listening to a different song supposedly clears an annoying one from your brain. You’re welcome.