Dear CMO:

Isn’t ‘up and to the right’ brand positioning a great place to be? We all love getting higher prices for our stuff, making more gross profit, and basking in the adoration of our captive markets. All this, of course, is predicated on the rather huge assumption that your customer base agrees with your ad copy.

It always helps to be able to deliver on your brand promises, too. End users, unfortunately, tend to think for themselves and will often make up their own minds, regardless of what our clever messaging may tell them. So if customers are ‘in charge’ — (shudder) — what does this mean?

Take a look at this photo, above. Ralph Lauren paint brushes versus Brand X. Sure, you see the brand logo, and not much else. What you do get to see a lot of, though, is the product — better yet, you get to feel the bristles. Tactile marketing. You can feel the wood — not plastic — of the handle. You want to take this home, don’t you? Who cares how much it costs, it’s a paint brush.

Brand X has the end cap. They probably paid a very significant upper end of the spectrum five figure sum for 30 days of this exposure. So are they any good? What are the bristles made of? What do they feel like? Who knows. You can’t even see them. They’re hidden behind a cardboard sleeve inside a hot sealed clamshell. Hell, you may never even get that package open unless you buy the blowtorch over on aisle 9.

I’m sure Brand X’s copy waxes prolific on high quality, high durability, excellent performance, blah, blah, blah… sure it does. And who cares. The only person who buys Brand X here is someone in a hurry who is price sensitive. Not exactly the brand positioning you probably wanted.

Showing is always more powerful than telling. It works in advertising. But packaging is a pure home run, if you can do it, because your customer convinces themselves how much they like your stuff before it even goes in the cart. Figuring this out for yourself is a huge opportunity.


Copyright (c) 2006 Stephen Denny