John [Jed] Davis the founder of Brandspank, a branding agency and management consultancy specialising in brand building via innovation, was an important speaker at the March meeting of Australian Institute of Packaging in Melbourne.
In a thought provoking address Jed covered the whole gambit of the interface between packaging, branding and marketing. It was encouraging to hear that Packaging can potentially be the key driver that makes the difference to the brand provided it is unique more relevant or functionally good.
A basic tenet of the address was that markets are built on behaviour not on attitudes. Advice was to study the customer behaviour in the markets, related markets and international markets, rather than take a punt on yet another piece of attitudinal research when looking for ideas.
Product messaging is the missing innovation link according to Brandspank. It is what should be focused on whether launching a radical new product or re-launching of one in an existing category or market.
With the right insight and direction, innovation can generate significant brand shifting, grow categories and markets and even take brands into new categories. It is a good tool and yet a disproportionate amount of time and resources is spent on attitude improvement and communication, rather than performance improvement and innovation. Currently Brandspank’s innovation tends to be almost technically led when more market savvy innovation could be generated with earlier involvement.
According to Brandspank, much of so called modern marketing is trapped in the mass marketing era of the sixties and seventies and that many brands and categories need some spanking, they need to break out. It is more important than ever to differentiate in this era of over supply, retailer brands and media fragmentation because market leadership, brand shares and brand pecking orders are locked in established markets, the rules are set. To change the rules in existing markets is important.
The prize for successful Innovation is good, but innovation is not for the faint hearted as quantum leaps or paradigm shifts can not be made with finesse.
Brandspank encouraged the listeners to develop a unique proposition that delivers unique product solutions. Contending that Consumers buy product solutions and only then chose the brand, if a real alternative is available.
A good example is Red Bull according to Brandspank. Red Bull is used as a replacement for coffee and cola in everyday use or even hard drugs in a clubbing situation. It is the product format that made it so believable when it entered the market. A format that was one of the first to coin the phrase energy drink, establish slim cans [and an implied smaller concentrated dosage]and use taurine as a stimulant rather than just caffeine.
It is unlikely that without all three of these unique product characteristics that the brand would have been any where near as successful, according to Brandspank.
Red Bull on the web site claims: Red Bull energy drink is a functional beverage with a special formulation and combination of ingredients. Red Bull energy drink has been developed for times of increased mental and physical exertion. In addition, Red Bull vitalises the body and mind. Red Bull’s effects are appreciated by good athletes, busy professionals, active students and drivers on long journeys.
The messages was that product and packaging innovation give to brands as much as brands give to products.
The assembly was then taken on a ride showing behavioural examples of the tenets of brand building through product and packaging innovation ending with three thought provokers:
- Health is not the only game in town
- Convenience rules
- What were once vices are now habits.