When you’re branding your product, keep two words top of mind:
“You should have a very clear and impartial argument about why anyone should give a damn about what you’re offering,” he explains. “When I’m talking with any brand, whether they’ve been in existence for one year or 75 years, they all proclaim they really care for their customers, they’re really knowledgeable, they provide great service, or they have an amazing product. You know what? Why should I (as a consumer) care? Your competition is saying exactly the same thing.”
By answering “so what” with a label design and messaging that resonates with your audience, your brand will stand out from what David calls marketplace noise. This will help guide through brand confusion and meaningless promises. He shares an example we see every time we grocery shop.
“One of the noisiest aisles in the supermarket is breakfast cereals, it goes from one end of the aisle to the other with a gazillion options, flavors and colors,” he points out. “If you’re not blind entering the aisle, you’ll be blind by the time you leave. It’s an assault on the senses and is also on assault on ‘information overload.’ How many cereals can be good for you? All natural? Delicious? Ad infinitum….”
Be heard over the cacophony by:
1. Understanding your audience.
“If your audience is busy, overworked moms who don’t have attention span because of the demands on them, how are you going to penetrate that audience? How are you going to come up with a message that communicates?” asks David. “Know the role of design and words in that challenge.”
2. Differentiating yourself.
“Study what your prospects are being hit with,” advises David. “It should guide your brand strategy. One of the all-time stupid mistakes is when big companies are blue, people think they should go blue, too. I basically remind them that they’re a copycat.”
3. Looking for label-design inspiration in unexpected places.
“When I need to be inspired, I go to places that are totally different from the brand I’m designing,” says David. One of his favorite sources of inspiration is a specialty shop near his office.
“It’s like foodie heaven with great coffee, chocolate and an amazing liquor collections. I’m not a big drinker, but liquor labels are fascinating, especially the specialty categories,” he continues. “So I’ll wander down that aisle because their design aesthetic is so different and outside the box. I imagine how I would use that to shake things up in a different industry.”
“No package is an island,” concludes David, “regardless of how beautiful it is. Branding isn’t just making things pretty. Aesthetics and design have their role, but it must be founded on differentiation. If we look and sell just like everyone else, how is anyone going to realize we actually have something unique?”
For more branding insight, be sure to check out 4 Key Branding Ideas to Advance Your Wine Label from Wine Writer Ilona Thompson. Her insight can apply to anything you’re branding.