Protect the Power of Your Logo. Design in Some Quiet Space.

I talk a lot about packaging design on here, so today I’ll dive into the bits of branding that goes into packaging as well as other things. With that in mind, it’s important to talk about logo quiet space and specifically how that works with your brand mark.

When you put together style guides or standards manuals, one of the first things you have to talk about is how to handle your brand mark ( logo). This is pretty important information. Your logo is basically the connector to everything you do and what you stand for as a company. It’s important to treat it right.

The easiest thing to do is to give your logo the breathing room needed to make sure it makes a statement of its own. This is done by prescribing a zone around your logo where nothing can compete – the quiet area. Why is this important? Firstly, you want to make sure that you leave enough space between your logo and other things. Not enough space diminishes the power of the logo and lessens’ your brand presence. People have a hard time making the connection that your company is the driver of whatever you’re looking at. If there’s truly not enough space, they may loose you entirely. Don’t make your logo compete with your message.

The other important reason for the space is that if you’re in a group of other logos, say you’re a sanctioning body or contributor, not enough space between you and the next logo might suggest some sort of partnership. Sure, that might be good if you make video games and you’re next to Playstation but what if you’re The American Lung Association right next door to Phillip Morris? Not so good. Keep a distance.

So, how much space do you need? That’s something that varies from logo to logo. I am sure that large agencies probably have some sort of scientific methods to ascertain the right dimensions, but you can find a nice distance by making a series of mock-up layouts from close to far and find what’s too far and not far enough, like the simple example above. Another method is to look at the materials you already have and locate an example that seems to feel ‘right’ and use that as gospel.

Once you have your distance, you have to tie it to the logo itself. Think scalability. Your logo is going to be many sizes and it’s crucial that the quiet area become a percentage of the logo rather than a concrete number. When the logo gets big, the quiet area will get big too, and the same thing for moving smaller. I like to find something in the logo mark itself to determine the dimension. In the example above, the width of the serpentine sets the quiet area. This guarantees that as long as the logo scales correctly, you can always ascertain an appropriate and proportional quiet area.

Logo usage rules, and quiet space rules specifically, can get far more complex than this and with fairly large corporations, they often do. Some of the variances I’ve seen and produced is two (or more) stage quiet areas – think of a soccer field with the penalty box and a goal box inside. Complexity increases with the treatment of tag lines as well as using the logo with a brand name or a sub-brand. It can get pretty labyrinthine quite quickly. On the other side of things, it’s important not to get too far into the granularity of the matter. Knock out the important rules first and determine the minutia as the situations demand.

The most important thing is to protect your brand mark and to make sure you get that information in the hands of the people operating on your logo. If you get that far, don’t let your brand down. Double check the work to make sure it follows your rules. To manage your brand well, your brand has to look good and look good all the time, making it important to have a plan for all these things.

Your Packaging’s Back Panel, the Undiscovered Country

There’s a lot of attention always being lavished on the front panels of packaging and with good reason, but the back panels are usually an after-thought. Especially, this happens with carded items.

The back of a card really should get much more attention than it does. After all, it’s essentially a bit of free space to help sell your product – and usually it’s larger space than you have on the front – but there are even better reasons than this.

Above, we have the pretty darn excellent Betty Crocker cooking implements packaging that you can easily find in Dollar Tree. Yes, that Dollar Tree, home of “everything is a dollar”(which should hammer home the point that you should be always in it to win it, no matter what the price point is). So what’s so great about this trade dress? The answer is on the back.

Sure, there’s all the usual stuff you’d see on the back of a package: the closure, the legalese, and of course, the UPC. But what else does it have? It has a call to action, asking people to go to the Betty Crocker website for more whatever, but it also gives something a bit more to the consumer. It gives a little recipe. How nice is that? Perhaps the product has no features to talk about on the back but instead of just letting that space go, Betty added a little extra gift for the buyer. It cost them nearly nothing but it gives something even more than the logo. It gives the ‘feeling’ that the company is invested in your cooking or baking journey and wants to help you get there – not just sell you a cheap plastic thing for a dollar. The added detail is like if Betty Crocker herself gave you a little wink and a go-for-it thumbs up.

Even more, it gives Betty Crocker a chance to cross-sell it’s baking and cooking food products, while perhaps not in the same store, it will stick in buyer’s head for when they come across it. Mmmm, creamy chocolate or vanilla frosting! A sneaky bit of advertising concealed in a cleaver value-add.

Comparing this work to a not so similar product that’s in an arguably similar store situation, you can see the real difference in the perception of how each company really seems to care about the buyer. The product on the right is a package of epoxy from Harbor Freight (and the stuff works really well!). The glue is sadly an example of how many companies treat this extra space that could be so valuable to them. There’s all the basic stuff that you need and that’s it. Otherwise, it’s bone dry – not even any branding on the back, and certainly not at the level of completeness that the Betty Crocker has.

Harbor Freight has invested in printing on the back and even in two (possibly four?) colors, why not go all the way and really make the product experience as complete as possible for your customer?

When you’re making a lot products it’s easy to blow through the backs of innumerable cards, but it’s important to think that the back of the card is really your salesman that gets to go home with the consumer and makes sure that your product’s experience is as complete as possible. I’d like to think that how you treat the front of the package in these small instances as how much you care about your product and the back of the card is how much you care about the customer. If you had these opportunities, shouldn’t you capitalize on them?

Keeping Packaging Cohesive

The best thing you can do is build a united front across the entire shelf space. It’s pretty hard to do. There’s financial aspects of doing a hard roll-out so you end up piecing the new look out or you’re a gigantic company with many divisions so it’s difficult to cut across silos to unify the trade dress.

What do you get if you can make it work? You get a brand that looks sharp. You get a line of products that all look current and products that look fresh. Your products have been reborn in a new dress that speaks to the customer in a way that’s timely rather than dated.

If you can’t make it work, you are presiding over a shelf that’s more like a brand’s history lesson, displaying every managerial dynasty the company has had. The new products are weighed down by the old trade dress making the entire line look like someone who’s treading water. It’s the difference between dressing like a hipster and dressing business casual. Sure business casual person looks the same as every other business casual office worker but then again, you’ll never mistake them as hobos.

Alright, so that was a little pithy, but I do have examples. Below is a shot of products by Sony found in a nondescript Wal*mart in America.

So you have a Radio on the right and tapes on the left. It’s obvious that there’s a Radio factory owned (or licensed by) Sony and there’s the Cassette factory owned (or licensed by) Sony. The dress doesn’t match. Has one been on the shelf longer? Am I buying the junk that doesn’t sell? Is one going to be discontinued? And perhaps the biggest question: Are these really made by Sony or just some company that’s paying Sony to drop its name?

These are all questions that a brand manager never wants to hear about their packaging.

Let’s compare this to what Betty Crocker did in the Dollar Tree (yeah, I shop at Dollar Tree – how else can I have a calculator in EVERY room??).

Betty Crocker obviously owns the cooking implement segment in this store. There are no older products to smear the look – all of the packaging matches. When it all looks the same the packaging acts as one giant billboard for your products. By doing this, they’ve put together a story of richness that rivals, and perhaps surpasses, the offerings in stores with much higher price points. Are the products comparable? I have no idea. I don’t think I actually own a spatula anymore. But it looks like it is. That sells the Dollar Tree shopper. It would sell a Wal*mart shopper as well, I bet.

Now, I know that this Betty Crocker thing is really hard to do for most companies. There’s all that stock of printed packaging that’s already here and product that’s already been packaged. Then there’s the product on the shelves running the old stuff. It would be too costly to bring it all back for re-pack, to be sure.

There are certainly benefits to making it happen, though. Change the things you can. Sell the accountants. Get rid of the old stock and make the shift to the new trade dress happen faster, your shelf presence and your brand image demands it. The company that does this is offering a pledge to consumers that they care about how their products look on the shelf. If the company cares how they’re presented then they obviously care about the products they make, right? It goes to the brand’s promise.

Nobody wants their company’s trade dress to be a time line of all the stuff that doesn’t work anymore. Every customer shops for the best product they can afford, but they really want to be assured that they’re getting their money’s worth. If the company doesn’t care that their looks don’t match, how could you reason they care about how well their stuff works?

Making the Back of a Package the Front

The trouble with showing your product on the front of your package is that the product usually takes up a lot of space for marketing. Not to mention the product can go a long way to seriously  muck up the trade dress, making the offering look seriously awkward or unattractive. Kind of funny, huh?

Carded products are usually the worst for such things. Cards tend to be rather conservative with area for many reasons and then there’s the blister, which seems to remove a big portion of the rest of the card just by being there.

It seems that Autolite has decided to go for it and make a rather drastic change to get that marketing area back – by making the back of their card the front.

Wow, look at that billboard space! And to think: it was there all along!  That said, let’s have a more serious look at this solution.

Moving the blistered products to the back gets you the entire card area for branding and marketing. The dynamic imaging and trade dress really get a chance to shine. Autolite is owning that orange.  There is also a luxurious amount of space for sell-points. If you can’t get your point across with that much space, you really shouldn’t be selling that product.

Comparing the Autolite package to the Bosch packaging here, you can see how much more exciting and capable the Autolite is, which brings us to the downside…

There has always been a lot of talk about needing to actually see the product you want people to buy and this is the serious bone of contention about flipping your cards. There’s something re-assuring about seeing the spark plugs on the Bosch package. , As a consumer, I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps it’s that you feel more confident you’re getting what you’re thinking about with the Bosch. Autolite tries to rectify this by putting a pretty dynamic illustration of a spark plug doing its thing on the front. Is that enough? Should it have been an image of the entire plug instead?

Here’s the other issue: store stockers notoriously do not care about the presentation of your product. Case in point: my mom wanting to buy a big heavy thing at a large home center. All of the products were stocked with the Spanish side out. Mom isn’t bilingual, nor a body builder. She gets frustrated and leaves…

Bringing this back home to Autolite’s packaging, I predict that they’ll have a hard time making sure that the blisters face the back, as we are all programmed nowadays to put the blisters to the front – even the consumers putting things back. Thinking of this, I hope that the back of the Autolite is as compelling as the front of the competition’s! As you can see from above, I don’t think it’s up for the task of competing back to front with Bosch.

Just for the record, I bought the Autolites because the Bosch packaging was just not approachable for my short-attention-span noodle.

Hormel Natural Choice Packaging Review

There’s been a lot of talk about moving towards more sustainable packaging, lately. We even get some requests now and again. For the most part, while it’s a good story, I really don’t see a lot of it at shelf, yet.

There’s a few reasons for this. One is that cost is sometimes a big factor – and one that usually stops a lot of projects early on. It takes a lot of cash to re-jigger larger lines for the new green stuff and that can be a bit too much for tighter margin items. Another hurdle is how to control shrinkage. One of the big reasons for having plastic (aside from being cheap) is that you can sort of encase your product in it making the item virtually impossible to quickly extricate, as we all have become aware. The third reason is sometimes sustainable packaging just doesn’t have the punch of regular packaging. The high-gloss, pretty printing goes a long way, so when I saw this packaging in my local grocer’s shelving, I was excited.

Here we have a nice step into more sustainable food packaging by Hormel. It consists of a cardboard box encasing the standard zip-lock bag of product. The really interesting thing is that Hormel went the distance and decided to direct print on the cardboard box rather than going the standard litho-laminate route seen on most other packaging.

The big drawback of this method is that the colors just don’t have the pop as the common high gloss methods. Hormel seems to have played to this weakness by choosing a muted color palette of that tends to vibrate against each other, creating enough contrast to punch out the trade dress on the shelf. The trade dress also was made with an eye toward the actual printing process – probably flexo by the substrate – and the capabilities it has (or lack of them as it may be). The designer kept the look amazingly clean, eschewing the normal bit of indulgent gradient and detail work. The dress further hides the shortcomings of the process by removing any places where color may overlap, thus negating flexography’s inherent sloppiness on press. Only in the Hormel ribbon does two colors overlap and when that area gets messy, that dark ghosting of the green on red will be neatly read as a drop shadow on the ribbon – well-played!

Using the ‘natural’ look of the cardboard also creates a nice allusion to being  a more natural product as it has a certain old-timey feel like the old days where items were wrapped in butcher paper instead of vacuum-packed space bags, even though the product inside is. The bare cardboard look is quite good at showing the perception of quality, simplicity or heavy-duty and it does so here as well with a ‘green’ feel as well.

Finally, the use of the cut out on the front provides the savory look at the product itself, allowing the real color of the item punch out from the comparatively dull packaging – A far better solution than the competitors which usually show an image of the product, and one that costs nothing more than a die cut.

Executions like this give me hope that we’ll see more sweeping changes in the industry toward more conscious packaging, both for the environment and for marketing.

Why Minimal-looking Packaging Only Works for Apple

From time to time, I get requests to make packaging that is ‘minimalist, like the iPod’s’. Once we get to work on it and a few revisions later, we’re pretty far away from the minimalist concept and much closer to the standard packaging look, kind of like this great video that came out a few years ago:

While this video is comically funny and at poor Microsoft’s expense, it hints at why most other companies can’t do the Apple packaging. The real reason is that Apple’s packaging isn’t really designed to convince the shopper that their product is the best at the shelf level – and it doesn’t have to.

Apple’s marketing and branding is set up so that the sale happens well before the shopper even gets into the car to go to the store. The packaging only serves as reassurance for the customer, rather than something that has to convince. They do this by having a very rich saturation of advertising that sells to a lesser extent the product and to a larger extent the emotional conductivity to the brand and the perceptions this entails.

Most companies, whether they sell consumer electronics or Macadamia nuts just doesn’t have the pervasive outlay that Apple puts out, so they rely on the packaging to be the final decision maker at the shelf level. The packaging, then is salesman and has to convince the shopper that the product is the one they want.

It becomes a big gamble then to leave the packaging clean, perhaps too big of a gamble for any marketing person to take. Important information must go onto the package in order to guarantee the competitiveness of the item, or so it seems.

Perhaps the real issue here is that Apple doesn’t sell personal media devices, they sell a lifestyle. People buy more on the idea of engaging in the Apple lifestyle rather than the actual features of the item. In this world, the Apple packaging is perfect as it sells the awesomeness of living in Apple-world. 5Gb as opposed to 32Gb is not in the vision of the person who wishes to live the Apple lifestyle – this information can certainly be left off of the package.

As a further aside, Apple has also done a very good job of separating their products at shelf level where the plain opportunity of comparing the items is difficult and speaks to the lifestyle concept: either you are looking at just the Apple products or you are not – and we all want to be part of the cool club…

So, if you really want the clean, minimal packaging for your products, the most important things to copy from Apple, is  to at least create a pervasive and rich advertising campaign, but the optimum thing to have is to sell your product as something that doesn’t have features but has the means to transport the consumer to their ideal life. Then features become less important and the exciting world that the brand creates – if done well- is far more enticing than battery life or the kind of salt on them nuts.

Designing Your Packaging Through Your Customer’s Eyes

Here we are, the final installment of this trifecta of packaging talk. The up side is that this is when I bring it all together!

Previously, I talked about the importance of where you place your logo and then we got into the hierarchy of the package and text. This time, I’m taking those to two bits and actually applying them, but first I have to talk about thinking through your customer’s eyes.

To really make an effective package, one has to realize that the package is basically the salesman for the item and the final gasp by your company to actually sell your product. Most times (and certainly with network cables) there is no extra marketing that helps swing home the sale. What really does it is what is said on the packaging – and it better be the right stuff. To hammer it home, the right stuff is the very things the customer needs to have. Most times, these are completely different from what your spreadsheets tell you.

Customers look to buy things to solve problems. Sometimes it’s a nebulous thing, like they need to feel better, richer, worthwhile or perhaps skinny or something. With network cables, that’s pretty easy: they need a cord to connect their computer to the internet – NO! They want to go online. That’s what they really need. The cable helps the customer get there.

Thinking like this, the biggest benefit we can put on that card is that this items connects you to the internet, right? I beg to differ in this instance.

While the above thought is important, the most important thing is the differentiation of the network cable from the phone cable. There are plenty of people who can divine the difference easily but for most it can be very confusing – especially when considering that stores usually put phone cables next to network cables. Therefore we need to say this is a network cable and say that loudly, because you need to take into account the environment your product will be placed in.

After this, on the scale of importance comes the reassurance that this product does connect to a network.  We must say ‘network’ rather than ‘internet’ because we must not confuse things, as this item certainly cannot connect without a modem of some sort, as well as to not confuse the small-office buyer or someone who needs to get on a ‘network’.

The next most important bit of information will be the length of the cord. For this, the reasons are obvious. The cord length is given a place of prominence on the top of the card and in a location where one can quickly thumb through other cards to find the size you need, in this case the upper right corner.

Finally, at the bottom of the card we put the qualifying specifications that need to be said. We need to specifically say the compatibilities to make sure we encompass as many customer’s conditions as we can.

For fun here, I have cobbled together a mock-up of what I figure to be a solid solution for this card going forward.

This card addresses all of the things I had discussed earlier. We now have a strong branding element in the large red swath of color behind the product that connects to the logo as well as popping the product off of the card. I have also moved the logo to the top the card, to a much more prominent position that should be far more legible. The new logo location also allows for the logo to be larger. This company is doing a good job saying it is proud of its product, rather than hiding itself.

Speaking of legibility, all of the text on the package has been weighted bolder for more impact and made larger for easier reading – an important feature for older demographics. It is a bit of comfort to the buyer to find pertinent information quickly. It goes to feeling comfortable with their decisions and we all know that most people buy on emotion rather than on logic.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of packaging design thinking!

Heirarchy in Packaging Design – Thinking About How to Lay Out Your Trade Dress

Alright, last time we visited this RCA package, we talked about logo placement, and that was pretty key, right? Well, today, I’m going to talk a bit about information hierarchy. What is this hierarchy? It is the pecking order of the product’s sell points and specifications on the package.

Contrary to what marketing people will say, there can be only one most important thing on a side of a package. One focal point that draws in the customer. After that everything else trickles down to zero in terms of importance. It is very important to think like this, especially when you have a product with a very small bit of packaging to strap on sell-points. The best sort of main point is a claim of quality or usability or something that states how the product is better. It could be the better stain fighter or it could be the longest lasting or maybe even the cheapest.

After the main point (and there are many names for this main point) comes the supporting information or sell points. These are the details that either re-enforce the main point or talk about other secondary points. They are the kind of catch-all that brings in the fringe shoppers and go something like this: high-powered spotlight for dark areas, bleach-free scrubbing power or up to 20oz. free.

The next level of importance usually comes things that are basically specifications that re-assure the customer that they are buying the right sort of item.  Specifications are hard product facts like 7ft. long, 4 AA battery capacity or safety blue.

So, to put this in list form:

1. Main marketing statement!!!

2. Supporting detail 1
3. Supporting detail 2
4. Supporting detail 3

5. Specification 1
6. Specification 2
7. Specification N

There’s a lot of talk about certain things jumping in front of various things in this list. One dubious thing is for the product name as the number one thing. I’m not talking about ‘Crystal Lite’ for example, I am talking about the need for ‘Fruit-flavored drink’ to trump the former. This is dumb. It will make your product look generic and while you may need this to keep Legal happy, NOBODY shops for a ‘Fruit-Flavored Drink’. People search for a drink that has far more flavor or is lower calorie or something but certainly not to make sure they’re buying a ‘Fruit-Flavored Drink’. Remember also that chances are where your product is in the store, will probably be in the same location as other ‘Fruit-Flavored Drinks’ -and probably in the ‘Drink’ aisle – so the customer pretty much knows what they’re looking at already. Keep the description on the package for sure, but don’t make it your headline.

The other bit that you will hear people talk about is that the brand has to be number one on the package. In a way, they are right, but then again, they may not. In the instance of the above network cable, we are not selling ‘RCA’s, we are selling network cable right? Nobody wants to buy an ‘RCA’ – whatever that is – they need to connect their computer to the interweb. The brand isn’t in this list because the brand is the frame around the product. It is the aura that grounds the product but allows the product to shine through, just like an ornate frame around a classic painting in a museum. The frame could be a work of art in itself but it mainly focuses attention to the wonder that is the painting.

So once, you have your list of points set out, the next thing to do is to locate the most prevalent portion of the package. That is where the main point should go. On this RCA card, that spot is just above the product blister, but below the hang hole.

Moving on to the supporting bits, things get a little trickier. This package doesn’t really do any favors, in terms of real estate, so you have to be a little creative like the previous designers have. Taking a page from them, the next most visible places are on the sides, going vertical, next to the blister. (I’d be remiss in not pointing out that there may be a savvy way to jam one under the primary point at the top.)

Finally, this brings us to specifications. These, while important to be sure, are relegated to the peripheral corners of the package, as those are the last visible areas to play with – and seemingly under-utilized on this example. The best corner would be opposite the logo at the top of the card , but care must be taken to not overshadow the brand logo. It’s to have these specifications at the corners as it allows for easy searching for the right dimension – think of shopping for pants and how great it is to see the sizes on the colored hanger tabs. Same thing here.

Now, all that took a lot more breaths than I anticipated so it looks like there’ll be a third installment, so stay tuned. I know it’s riveting!

Broadcasting the Things that You Own – Designing Personal Product Advertisements.

I didn’t actually look at the Instructable that this image is from as I’m not really looking to make a clutch or even carry one for that matter. What interests me is the idea behind it. A transparent carry case that allows everyone to see exactly what you are carrying. Sounds kind of crazy right? I have heard that there’s a lot of personal stuff in a purse, why would you show the contents?

The real question is why did this concept take so long to come to fruition? In today’s society there are many  people who define themselves by the items they have. It’s branding run crazy.

I just want to be clear that I am not judging anyone here, these are merely observations and regurgitations of papers I have read. Whether this sort of lifestyle is right or wrong is beyond my scope but speaking to the utility of this sort of product is interesting when framed in this regard and certainly should be digested.

That said, shouldn’t the next step be to help broadcast who you are by showing which breath mints you carry and what phone you use? With this transparency you can do just that. You can broadcast the lifestyle you have crafted without the need for excuses to put them out to demonstrate your brand allegiance, and by extension, who you wish to be.

My thought that the transparent purse is just another step in allowing for people to craft and broadcast the sort of person they see themselves to be. People define themselves increasingly with brands and products. Perhaps the opacity of how we carry our precious items will further recede. The need to show ‘ourselves’ through these brand extensions will overshadow the necessities of privacy or security. In a way, this overshadowing could be reasoned as already being played out on social networking sites, where we put up our private items and we broadcast these along with a list of all the brands and companies we feel aligned with. Yes, I like Starbucks and afterwards, use(like) Altoids. I also like my Blackberry. It helps craft how we’d like people to perceive us to be.

It would be interesting to see how this would play out for the males of the world. Would this transparency drive the so-called ‘man-purse’ into general popularity? How would men display their Axe spray and their Droid phones? Would belt holders come back? Transparent pockets?

Perhaps the whole enterprise is the new way of mating. Instead of puffing out our chests and displaying our feathers, we show off our iPods and coffee. Others would have an instant conversation starter: “Oh, you have an iPhone 4? So do I, it’s black!” as they could see all the time that you have such an item and a mutual connection, perhaps. If you’re going to advertise, wouldn’t you want to market yourself all the time? Why let opacity slow you down?

Obviously, with the ‘ups’ there are always ‘downs’ – the unfortunate aspects of Too Much Information. Imagine the club guys displaying their condom brands because they’re ‘ready to party’ or perhaps more unfortunate times when someone forgets that the case is transparent, making things worse than walking around with your zipper down. I really don’t think we need to hear actual examples as I imagine a litany of terrible thoughts just popped into everyone’s heads!

Does it go further? Do these devices then become items that are designed to show off what you are about? Do you make sure to bring exactly the right things to show off? A handy mantle for which to put your prised items? Some things to think about.

Logo Placement on Packaging Is Important

I found the packaging example above in a recent store visit and I figure I am going to talk about it for at least two posts, as it points out a number of things – both good and bad.

Being that I’ll be talking about both good and bad, I’d like to extend this caveat regarding the product and the brand: I have nothing against RCA from any standpoint and would like to further point out that the network cable above is of good quality and is working great. Now, if you’re listening RCA, I can really help you with your branding and packaging. I am slightly expensive but I work really fast, and do great work! *nudge, nudge*

Now, getting to the point of this entry, let’s think about where RCA has determined to place their logo mark – the bottom of the card. Not a lot of companies dare place the logo at the bottom of packaging for a number of reasons. I know an oldster who NEVER wants to put the logo at the bottom. I think mainly it’s about being a big stickler for ‘the higher on the package, the more important a thing is’ line of thinking. The logo, in his eyes, is most important. It never is the least important, thus never on the bottom. I like to think a bit more situationally regarding this thought, so I have my doubts about this one.

Another very important point regarding logos at the bottom of packaging design is that when things are merchandised, there is a very good chance that the logo will be covered by secondary labels and structure. This may not be a big deal, as long as one accounts for it when making the merchandising elements – as well has having a strong enough trade dress to pull it through.

When we look at this card we can see that with the above head on shot, the logo seems pretty prominent, mainly due to the awkward, centered location (nothing else is centered) and more so the use of the stand-out red on the white field.

When the card is peg-hooked the situation becomes different. If this package is looked at any downward degree, the logo is obscured by the clamshell and product within. With the logo gone and no other discernible trade dress to carry the brand (which is another topic, all together), the package has lost all of its RCA brand cache. The product now falls into that area of ‘misfit toys’ populated by cheaply sourced, questionably made items people put low trust and value to.  This is probably one of the reasons why these cords were $4 (and on sale for $2) while similar cords with a bit more nascent branding were selling for $10 at Wal*mart.

If we compare the RCA product with this product from Singer, you can see how much of a difference the prominence of the Singer logo location has over the RCA. The size and the location broadcast the brand far more effectively. It would seem that Singer may be much more proud of their products than RCA is, leading customers to think that perhaps the Singer may be of better quality than the RCA. After all, the person who takes responsibility is far more trustworthy in people’s eyes.

That oldster was right about one thing: branding is very important and perhaps the logo mark is the most important item on your package. The reason for the importance is that by placing your logo on all your products you are, in essence, saying that you guarantee the same level of quality across all of the items with this logo. What does that mean for the customer? It means that if I buy this CAT5e cable and it works great, then the chances are high that this other RCA product will be just as good of a value.

Obviously, this works best when you actually care about your products, but if you do care about your products and you want to get that loyalty then you have to make it as easy as possible for the customer to spot your products and you do that by having a strong trade dress and a distinct and immediately legible logo mark, otherwise you risk falling into the indistinguishable sea of commodity items.