Brand Packaging

It All Comes Down to Relevance

November 5, 2010
If you follow the theory posed by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, technology was the catalyst for all things good. That’s true, of course, but closer examination of globalization requires that we study its social, political and economic effects. 



If you follow the theory posed by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in his 2005 book, The World is Flat, technology was the catalyst for all things good: people, goods and services could now flow freely around the globe.

That’s true, of course, but closer examination of globalization requires that we study its social, political and economic effects. Consider, for instance, how the competition for energy resources ramps up when everyone is a global buyer and seller. For marketers, it’s also important to monitor the many cultural countertrends of globalization-the slow food movement and the buy local movement, for instance.

This issue of BRANDPACKAGING looks at that very paradox: as the world becomes increasingly global, there’s a growing need for brands and marketers to have local context. In Brands without Borders, we examine the complexities multinational brands face in implementing global packaging solutions (and offer a few tips on getting it right). In Hitting Close to Home, trend forecasting firm GDR Creative Intelligence brings our attention to independent brands that are making the most of local, or even hyperlocal, identities (branding right down to the zip code, in some instances).

It all boils down to the idea of relevance-something that was also a common thread among speakers at our Packaging that Sells conference in September, which we’ve recapped in Thoroughly Refreshed.

“It’s no longer enough for people to believe that your product does what it says. They want to believe in you and what you do,” said Method co-founder and brand architect Eric Ryan in his keynote to the more than 300 packaged goods marketers and designers in attendance.

While some might think it’s easy for a challenger brand like Method to live by such values, it doesn’t discount global brands like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s from marketing with meaning.

It’s just a matter of the right solution. For instance, a grassroots group called Colalife.org is said to be in discussion with Coca-Cola about opening its packaging distribution network to provide-along with its beverages-social or medical products for hard-to-reach populations.

It’s an excellent example of the potential brands of all stripes-global or local-have in creating stronger, more authentic relationships with consumers by turning out packaging and identities with relevance.