As many of you may (or may not) know, I have a graduate degree in corporate graphics. I studied and researched how companies grow and maintain their brand equities over time while still evolving their brand to reach and resonate with new consumers. I am consistently amazed at how the corporate world tends to embrace an evolutionary strategy, while in packaging, sometimes it is forgotten or disregarded.
Yesterday I went out to purchase my favorite tea. It is only sold at one particular store, so off I went. Once there, in the proper aisle, I began looking for the tea. I looked and looked, asked a clerk, searched again, and then finally found it. Now this package is distinctive, has an ownable color, and is pretty easy to find, but it was gone. I asked a sales associate if they could help, and after 10 minutes, we found the package. It had undergone such a massive transformation and overhaul that it was unrecognizable. So I shook my head, and purchased my tea.
Why do companies do this? Why do brand managers do this? In the over-communicated world we live in, consistency is a good thing. I have seen this happen before to other brands. The brand undergoes a major packaging change and releases it to the shelf without any marketing supportor shelf store signage to help educate the consumer to notice the new look. Then as sales drop, everyone blames the packaging.
Well, that usually is not the reason. With a three second attention span at the shelf, if you can’t find what you are looking for, you look for alternatives. When evolving packaging, I feel strongly that you need to be strategic. Companies need to understand what equities are important and recognizable and what elements can be changed. If an interim step is needed, go ahead and move your brand slowly. It is okay… I give you permission. Yes, it may be a little more expensive, but it is much harder to earn new customers than keep the ones you have.