Breaking with Tradition
June 1, 2008
Lower priced, visual knock-offs of Elmer’s glue were hurting sales, until a dramatic redesign breathed new life into this venerable brand.
The story: In 1947, the first white glue was introduced to consumers. Packaged in glass bottles with popsicle-type wooden sticks attached with a rubber band, the product was marketed by Borden under the trade name “Cascorez Glue”. Not long after its introduction, the glue was repositioned under the Elmer’s brand name (an interesting bit of trivia for those wondering about the cow depicted in the Elmer’s logotype: “Elmer” is actually the spouse of Borden’s iconic “Elsie the cow”). Over time, the brand moved to a squeezable plastic container with the instantly recognizable orange cap, but few significant changes were made to the packaging until recently. The challenge: Through the years, competing glues appeared on retailers’ shelves next to the Elmer’s display. The competitors’ glues were the same color, were packaged in the same stock transparent squeeze bottle and had the same color label-only the visual knock-offs cost less, and Elmer’s sales became flat. The goal: Elmer’s turned to TricorBraun to explore ways to improve the global brand’s position in the adhesive market by way of its brand packaging. “Tradition has its place, but Elmer’s needed a face lift and a new brand identity for its packaging. We decided shape and color were the way to help punch up the brand on the shelf,” explains David Snyder, TricorBraun design director. The solution: The design team, led by Snyder, quickly immersed itself in the category to get a feel for the landscape and identify opportunities. It was immediately clear that a new shape would be the first order of business. “We decided to use an offset neck, which changes the appearance and helps with its application,” says Snyder. The team also provided the top deck of the bottle with a slanted face, which when collectively aligned with other Elmer’s bottles on-shelf, creates a point-of-purchase display or brand block, with the bottle shape as its foundation. With a unique shelf presence accomplished, color was the next action item. Competitors were utilizing translucent polyethylene bottles, so Elmer’s would go to market with a distinct approach. “To overcome the color sameness, we decided to give the new design an added punch by using the Elmer’s blue as the base color on a new shrink-sleeve label,” says Snyder. The new look retains heritage elements like the familiar orange cap and Elmer’s logo. Jennifer Acevedo is Editor-in-Chief of BRANDPACKAGING Contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. WHERE TO GO FOR MORE INFORMATION... PACKAGE DESIGN > TricorBraun Design & Engineering (630.758.4600; www.tricorbraundesign.com) BOTTLE MANUFACTURER > Matrix Packaging (905.624.2337; www.matrixpackaging.com) LABEL CONVERTER > Fort Dearborn (847.357.9500; www.fortdearborn.com)