01 October 2021
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
‘Brand purpose’ and ‘brand distinctive assets’ are two terms used in marketing departments worldwide, driven by different academics and marketing theory. And, of course, each has their place.
With brand purpose perhaps the most controversial of the two, there is a plethora of literature to be found and, thanks to Simon Sinek, businesses and individuals are constantly striving to find their WHY!
Now not everyone can credibly claim to have Patagonia’s purpose of ‘we are the business to save our home planet’, but we can still aim to be inspiring and to make a difference in a small way, so long as it feels authentic to the brand and relevant for the category.
And then we have distinctive brand assets, which have existed since branding began way back when, but have become significantly more high profile since Professor Byron Sharp wrote the infamous How Brands Grow ten years ago.
However, the interesting tension is that these two high profile marketing elements in many businesses, and particularly in FMCG, rarely talk to each. There is almost an unspoken rule that purpose belongs to communications (what you say and how you say it) and distinctive assets belong primarily to packaging design. Now this may be because many brand assets on established brands were developed long before purpose became a thing, or just because it is damn tricky to effectively visualise purpose.
So, our question is should they come together more and if so, how?
We work in the field of marketing, so the answer is, of course, rarely black and white. But looking at how this is currently being done by several different brands gives us clues as to how to make this successful.
Purpose and assets working independently – Dove’s ‘Mission for Real Beauty’
When we think of Dove assets we would likely say white, clean, with the Dove symbol to bring to life the innocent essence of the brand. When we think of Dove’s purpose around its campaign for Real Beauty, it is bold, empowering, challenging.
Is this a ‘clash’? The Dove iconicity and assets were well established before the Real Beauty campaign existed so there is little they can do, beyond a couple of simple claims on pack, to make the connection stronger.
Interestingly, there was an attempt to bring the brand’s purpose to life a little more with a limited-edition range in various pack shapes to resemble different female body shapes. But it backfired after a negative reaction on social channels. Some of the comments are pretty hilarious and angry (as we have come to expect from Twitter) but the idea did not go forth.
More recently, Unilever has taken more of a conversative move to remove the word ‘normal’ from all of their personal care products in a bid to tackle harmful norms and stereotypes and to shape a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.
Establishing new assets to highlight purpose – Bodyform/Libresse’s ‘Blood Normal’
Bodyform has been on a mission to challenge the stigmas of periods and highlight the unspoken harsh truths about women and their bodies. However, with its iconic pink pack with lots of girly detailing, bows and sparkles, it was hardly screaming ‘modern woman’. Cue a global brand re-design this year. Yes, the pink has to stay of course as this is what people recognise, but the bold V front and centre of pack representing the female V-zone is a strong nod towards its brand purpose – bringing purpose and assets harmoniously together.
Purpose and established assets working collectively – Persil’s ‘Dirt is Good’
A personal favourite I have to admit. It cut through the functional ‘whiter than white’ clutter at the time, is highly credible for the category and is relevant in so many ways. And while it has evolved as a campaign, Unilever has stuck to the core purpose unlike so many other brands that go off in search of the shiny and new…
The pack includes the line itself as well as bringing to life the playful interaction between a child and parent. But it is the distinctive splat asset behind the logo, introduced in 2011, that we feel is making the connection back to the brand’s purpose.
Relying on assets to be more creative with purpose – Cadbury’s limited-edition purpose
Last but not least, we look at Cadbury and its recent campaign for Age UK, tackling loneliness amongst the over 65s. And fair play to the brand, it made the bold move of removing the words from its bars – donating them to the charity instead.
A lovely bit of feel good PR, a great cause (and connection to removing words) and also the chance to show how iconic and distinctive its pack colour is, as we all still instantly recognised the UK’s No. 1 chocolate.
So, there we have it. Brand assets and brand purpose do not have to be fused together. Both can work, but the best approach comes from knowing your target audience and what’s most relevant to your brand.
When you have a loyal customer base and mega bucks to spend on both, like Dove, they can exist in different rooms and it can work well. But, as seen with Persil and Bodyform, where there has been a deliberate attempt to develop new iconic brand assets that start to really support and tell the story of brand purpose, this can really work in favour of the brand and allow the brand to look more cohesive and coherent. Just be careful it doesn’t backfire…
If you'd like to discuss how to bring brand purpose to life through your packaging design, then please contact us at kate.bermingham@brandon-consultants.
People Love a bit of DWB!
The world of functional drinks, or ‘drinks with benefits’ (DWB) is a category that has seen huge development.
Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie
Steve shares the best things about his job, as well as the genius behind “who's nicked my friggin' grapes".
Meet Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Managing Partner, Richard Taylor on the importance of iconicity in the route to impact.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Strategist Tessa Hill on some of the key relevance challenges we’re asked to solve through the power of design.
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
Recession-ready tip #1 – hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers hero-ing your distinctive assets to prepare for a recession.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Inspiration from Rosie Arnold at the D&AD Talks 2019
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the giants are emulating the discounters.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.