Brand or Bland?

Written by Bill Tanzer


Which bag above are you immediately drawn to?

As we discussed in previous posts, your company logo, from its lettering to design and choice of colors, immediately makes a statement about your business, for good or bad. Your logo is what your business stands for, what your particular style is, and what a consumer or client can expect. It’s a vital form of communication, an instant visual image that will either resonate or repel. If you have a million different emblems used in advertising, packaging and marketing, changing styles from one week to the next, it certainly makes it difficult for customers to associate any particular motif with your company. How will they recognize your business when it’s constantly changing image?

Consistently using the same carefully crafted logo is a much better bet to building your brand. In a tight economy, consumers are extremely leery about shelling out dollars for a brand they know nothing about or do not trust. When money is falling from trees, they may be less hesitant to try every product under the sun. But when the wallet contracts? So do the extra expenditures and the risk taking. Yet brand loyalty remains, as consumers perceive value in its purchase.

So what message is sent when packaging has next-to-no design? I’m talking generic packaging here, plain bags and boxes. Perhaps nothing comes of it. Maybe no one gives it a second thought as they head out the store door. Maybe a consumer assumes that the retailer is doing so well, the retailer ran out of customized shopping bags. Or maybe the consumer wonders if the stockroom forgot to re-order or is a disorganized mess. Or maybe, there is no message, because the store doesn’t have one, because it’s not important enough. That is a wasted opportunity. Maybe someone likes the red bag handles. But is anyone going to remember where that bag came from? Is anyone going to feel compelled to ask? Of course not.

Who wants to be anonymous? Small businesses that prefer to hide don’t make the Fortune 500 anytime soon. And just like companies take their logos and packaging seriously, very few businesses set out to be confused with a generic store brand. Everyone wants to stand out from their competitors and catch a shopper’s attention, for the most part. So when department stores and national retailers set up their own lines, they treat them as separate entities, including their own particular design and logos. J.C. Penny promotes a lot of its floor space to its own private clothing label, Arizona, while Target prominently displays its own food lines, Archer Farms and Market Pantry, near the name brands. Each brand has its own look and continues to attract and retain its own market. Those are just two examples, I’m sure you have a dozen of your own.

By the way, I’m not saying that logos are the be all and end all to a successful business. That is ridiculous. Start-ups can’t rely simply on well-designed logos to attract a billion new clients and call it a day. The company has to offer something to begin with, and something that consumers want or need, and let those consumers know the company exists in the first place. But we can’t ignore the vital part that packaging and overall branding plays.

June 23, 2011

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