Branding: What’s Your Package?

Producers of clamshell packaging understand that packaging isn’t just a wrapping. It’s an integral part of a product’s marketing operation. Packaging communicates the image and identity of a company. In short, packaging is a workhorse. It has a job.

Is your packaging doing its job?

In the same vein, our “packaging” does the same work. Our brand encases our product, service or persona. What should our clamshell do for us? Let’s look at what the pros expect from theirs:

From the Clamshell Blog:

Packaging can be defined as the wrapping material around a consumer item that serves to:

• contain,

• identify,

• describe,

• protect,

• display,

• promote,

• and otherwise make the product marketable.

Aren’t those the very things we do to define our brand?

We contain ourselves, so we know what we are and what we aren’t.

We identify ourselves so we stand apart from others who might look similar.

We describe ourselves so our customers know what they will get.

We protect ourselves from bad business.

We display ourselves through public appearances and social media.

We promote ourselves through our marketing efforts and advertising.

We make ourselves marketable by wrapping all of the above into our brand, our personality, the thing that customers remember most.

Who knew that box makers and clamshell producers could provide a branding tutorial? Let’s take notes.

Bizziwriter nugget: Which aspect of our clamshell branding do we do best? Which one could improve?



Branding: What it Isn’t

Branding is not making a logo.

Branding is not advertising.

Branding is not marketing.

Branding is not your product.

Branding is not what you do.

Confused? You are not alone. Savvy marketers like Ed Roach know that misunderstanding your brand  can be costly; yet companies, even other marketers, continue to miss the point of branding.

Why isn’t a logo my brand?

Your logo might be cool. But really, your logo is a picture. It’s not who you are. Think of your logo like a profile picture on Facebook. We like to choose profile photos that show a little of our personality—maybe we don shades for a little edge or include our significant other to represent an important relationship. Logos are a representation, a face, of the company behind it.

Why isn’t advertising my brand?

Advertising transmits your logo and what you do to the world. But until your customers know you, really know you, your advertising is merely a declaration. Important, yes. But not branding.

Why isn’t marketing my brand?

Marketing determines what kind of advertising behaviors you’ll pursue. Marketing identifies your target market. Marketing uses a variety of sources and media to convey your brand. But it’s not your brand.

Why isn’t my product my brand?

You say, “I sell Lucky jeans. Isn’t that my brand?” Or, “I write science fiction thrillers. Isn’t that my brand?” Nope. Your products are what you offer your customers. Without products, we have nothing. But products do not determine your brand.

Why isn’t what I do my brand?

You sell insurance or provide in-home elder care. Seems straight-forward. Offer a service. Do it well. Provide a little extra. Useful services may be in demand. But they are not your brand.

So what IS my brand?

What do people say about you or your product or your service behind your back? What do they most often compliment you on? What will your customer get from you that they will get from no one else? Author Mary deMuth talks about defining her “one thing.” When you get to your “one thing,” you’ve found your brand.

You can define your brand or it can be defined for you.

Think about how you do business and the feeling you want your customers to have after doing business with you. Harley Davidson is a well-known brand. But their brand isn’t their motorcycles. Their brand is making middle-aged dudes feel like bad-asses. Walmart sells household products, but their brand is making customers feel financially astute and thrifty. Cycolpedia sells bicycles, but their brand reflects high quality products and education for discerning cyclists. Customers leave knowing more than they did before and believe the products they purchase are the highest functioning for the money.

Bizziwriter nugget: If your brand isn’t any of these things, what is it? Ask ten customers what they get from you. What is your “one thing?

A New Name for Branding

Product branding redefined.

Branding. It’s the talk of the town. What is it? According to this Bloomberg Businessweek report, branding is often confused with advertising or marketing design. Essentially, branding is the personality of your product or service.

But let me make it simpler. Branding is putting your product, idea, or self into a clamshell package and placing it on Aisle 11B, Shelf 2.

What we can learn from Costco.

Years ago, Costco introduced us to a new way of packaging. Clamshells.

Clamshells are those annoying plastic jails that house our purchases and are impossible to open, even with the best scissors in the house.

Annoying, yes. Genius? From a marketing standpoint, also yes.

Costco discovered that clamshell packaging served two purposes:

  1. Clamshell packaging makes everything look better, bigger, more substantive, more important, and easier to grab.
  2. Clamshell packaging made it more difficult for thieves to hide products in trench coats.

Ecological concerns aside, we can take a lesson from this packaging. Items in clamshell packages know exactly what they are and where they should be. Can we say that about our business product or service?

 What we can learn from Target.

When a friend pointed me to Target’s gift registry for baby gift ideas, I was astounded at the list. But it wasn’t the bazillion items my friend had chosen that astounded me. It was the detail of the list. If I wanted to purchase a Nuk pacifier, I was directed to Aisle 46C, Shelf 1.

Target’s product placement is no accident. Someone at corporate earns big bucks deciding where to place each and every item in the store. Newborn socks near layettes. Sheets near comforters. Coffee filters near coffee makers. Toys near cleaning supplies. Much thought has been devoted to understanding consumers and their shopping habits.

Are we so sure of our product or service and its personality that we could place it in our market to that degree of detail? Do we know the aisle and shelf? If our customer looks for it there, will she be confused? Or will it make complete sense?

 Branding = Clamshell MarketingPackaged strawberries

We aren’t in the packaging business. But we are in the business of defining ourselves in a way that is irresistible to our clients and customers. If we can understand packaging, perhaps we can understand ourselves. What is our unique selling proposition? Who are we exactly? Are we effectively communicating that personality?

Bizziwriter Nugget: If you wrapped yourself (or your product) in a clamshell package, what would you look like? Where would you hang? Who would you hope to attract?

Any questions?