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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Understand Brands - A Guide to Branding, Part One..

These days we hear so much about brands and the importance of brands – there are so many brands around these days and everyone seems to have a brand – think ‘Brand Beckham’.  As a company that helps businesses establish and promote their brand, we thought we would present the Lovely Packaging guide to branding.  Part one starts with a very simple question...

What is branding?

The word brand comes from the Old Norse brandr meaning ‘to burn’. It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their product.

Brands in the field of mass-marketing originated in the 19th century with the introduction of packaged goods. Industrialisation moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralised factories. When shipping their items, the factories would literally brand their logo or insignia on the barrels used, extending the meaning of "brand" to that of trademark.

Brands can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, colour combination or slogan.  Basically it is any feature that identifies one seller’s product as distinct from those of other sellers.

Today, branding has become so strong that hardly anything goes unbranded.  A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day.  It's important to invest time on defining and building a brand.

Brand awareness is of critical importance since customers won’t consider your brand if they are not aware of it.  Global brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Nike are instantly recognised by a diverse set of consumers around the world through one simple trademark.  Effective visual brand identity is achieved by the consistent use of particular visual elements to create a unique image.  So at the core of every brand identity is a logo.  Consumers around the world will see the ‘Apple’ logo and will instantly think of iPod’s and computers, even if they have never bought any of their products.  These global brands reflect the same sets of values around the world.

A good brand will:
®    Deliver the message clearly
®    Confirms the credibility of the business
®    Motivates the buyer
®    Concretes consumer loyalty

To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers.  Put simply, successful branding will make your business more money.  With promotion of your brand comes consumer awareness, leading to the customer spending more money on your product and maximising purchase frequency and loyalty.  This increases business and brand value, in turn leading to a greater profit. 

The drinks company ‘innocent’ is a great example of how a business’s image and brand values can grow successfully after a small start-up, with a turnover today of £38 million.  The founder’s developed the straightforward, slightly irreverent communication style that soon became the company’s trademark, without the use of a specialist agency.  This easy going, no-nonsense approach appeared to be flying in the face of the big corporate drinks manufacturers.  However, today Innocent has claimed a 63% share of the £111 million UK smoothie market, yet still maintains the integrity of its brand, retaining the trust and support of its customers.  Smaller companies should take note of this success story, and witness just how a successful brand can enhance your business. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Top 5 considerations when you’re looking for ‘green’ packaging

Do you remember the first time you heard the phrase ‘greenwash’? It’s probably not that long ago. The term is used to describe how environmental claims are made for a product when the full story is perhaps a little more (ahem) ambiguous.
Greenwash may be everywhere, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It shows that advertisers and marketers realise that consumers do care about their environment, so much so that we’re often happy to pay a premium. It also shows that companies care too and will proudly boast of their record on Corporate Social Responsibility, will invest in green technology, and will seek green suppliers. If they can save a few pennies at the same time, even better!
So, how does a company find a green supplier? How easy is it to distinguish between green and greenwash, especially if it’s an area outside of their field of expertise? For example, can we expect a chef, soap-maker or jeweller to have an extensive understanding of packaging? Only if we can expect a box-maker to produce perfect quenelles, create recipes for creamy, aromatic soaps, and mount diamonds in intricate strands of precious metal.
The packaging industry is innovative and fast-moving. Like all industries there are examples of greenwash, but there are also a great many genuinely green innovations and companies committed to reducing the environmental impact of their products and services. However, if you are looking for a green packaging solution you need to consider how it will work for your business and your circumstances. What’s right for one business may not be right for another.
So, here are 5 questions to ask of some of the most prevalent ‘green’ packaging options:
1.      Is there any point in consuming vast resources to produce something that is biodegradable if the energy and materials used to produce it are unsustainable?
2.      Can soy based products be truly green if vast tracts of the Brazilian rainforest are being destroyed to grow GM soy bean?
3.      Is it really green to spray arable land with pesticides and fertilisers to produce a GM crop which is then converted (often through energy-hungry processes) into biodegradable packaging?
4.      Should products like bagasse, a waste product of sugar cane production, be shipped around the world or should it be utilised locally, perhaps for packaging or as biofuel?
5.      Is bamboo a truly green alternative if intensive production processes lead to the extensive use of pesticides, weed-killers and fertilisers, to an increase in erosion in hilly and mountainous areas, to the reduction of biodiversity and to the shrinking of natural forest areas?
The truth is that anything we buy, sell, produce, use, eat or do has an environmental consequence. The questions above are simply designed to illustrate that choosing a green solution is often complex and multi-layered and we shouldn’t be comfortable in assuaging our green conscience unless we consider the true impact of even green alternatives.
There is little point in pretending that there is such a thing as a ‘pure green’ product. Everything has an environmental impact and so long as we remain aware of that we can seek to reduce it.
The companies who manufacture and distribute green packaging are usually sincere, well-intentioned and truly committed to ecological welfare. Like any industry they expect to be challenged and aim to develop and offer better products and services.
The greatest threat to such progress is complacency.
So, let’s keep asking the awkward questions and let’s keep finding ways to improve.