When embarking on complex branded partnerships, it is very easy to get lost behind the commotion surrounding the promotional offer. How do you effectively leverage your brand and a partner? How do you ensure that the promotion contributes back to your brand’s message? How do you create value for your brand, your retail partner and your consumer?
In our experience, many brands become enamored with the idea that the promotional partnership in and of itself will be effective enough to capture the attention of consumers and give retailers something new to promote. In doing so, they often make compromises with their brand equities, allowing the promotional partner to take over the packaging communication and lose the opportunity to build equity through the promotional relationship. While a promotional partnership can be an incredibly valuable tool in reaching consumers with a new message, the real magic lies in finding the balance that allows for brand equity to shine in new ways.
We believe the objective of any promotional packaging initiative should always begin with leveraging brand equity. With this in mind, we’ll examine the best practices that every brand owner should consider when embarking on a promotional packaging initiative.
1. A SIMPLE VISUAL STRATEGY
The comprehensive nature of a national promotion brings with it the inherent benefits of scale and efficiency, creating increased consumer visibility for all partners. With that in mind, design of the promotional elements needs to link the various partners and work hard to create equity efficiencies where both partners are leveraged. A simple visual strategy for how the promotion comes to life on pack and marries the equities of the two partner brands is a necessary first step.
In spring 2014, Mondelez International began a multi-year sponsorship with the U.S. Soccer Men’s and Women’s National teams. This long-term partnership offers Mondelez brands, such as Wheat Thins and Ritz, the opportunity to leverage a sport with widespread global appeal and build upon the momentum of soccer in the U.S. market. The sponsorship began with promotional packaging design across a number of the Mondelez brands and was introduced at retail just as the U.S. Men’s team headed to Brazil.
To leverage the U.S. Soccer opportunity and ensure the strength of the participating brands remained intact, we established a simple visual strategy focused on bringing to life the soccer experience through color, geometry, iconography and pattern. Execution of the strategy played out in a visual “toolbox” that included a primary color palette that complemented the Mondelez brands, soccer-related patterns, and promotional identities and iconography.
The result is a design system that does not have to compensate or compromise on brand equity, but rather it complements each of the partner brands to optimize efficiency and scale. In addition, with a visual strategy in place to inform all executions, extension of the promotional overlay on pack became simple as there was no need to reinvent the wheel with each partner brand. Time and money saved!
2. EMPHASIZING SHARED EQUITIES
In any promotional partnership, there is always the risk that one brand will be sacrificed for the other. Leveraging shared equities is the best way to ensure that both brands benefit from the relationship.
Fortunately for the Mondelez brands, the look and feel of U.S. Soccer is visually quite simple, highly iconic and graphic. The visual strategy and design toolbox ensured that these shared visual equities of each partner were front and center, seamlessly integrating into one iconic story.
A great example of this approach is seen in the promotional package design for Ritz. Ritz has tremendous equity and consumer recall of its bold red design and Ritz “orb” logo. To establish a link between Ritz and the U.S. Soccer organization, the Ritz red has been activated with a simple graphic pattern that brings the soccer experience to life on pack and acts as a backdrop to the promotional communication. The result is a dynamic promotional design that engages consumers through the lens of soccer without compromising on the impact of the Ritz brand.
3. THE POWER OF BEING ICONIC
Promotions, by nature, are meant to be impactful, create excitement and motivate action. There is no better way to achieve all three of these objectives than through iconic design. A simple, singular and emotionally powerful icon can be the catalyst that gets the consumer to stop and take another look. A powerful icon creates urgency, motivating purchase and adding value to the transaction.
The Mondelez-U.S. Soccer promotional program required an icon that effectively telegraphed soccer, while at the same time did not compete with the well-established Mondelez brand icons. The solution was found in a soccer ball icon, designed to showcase color, graphic style and visual simplicity as well as act as a visual anchor across the range of participating brands. The soccer ball icon was integrated into each brand’s existing packaging architecture, flexing to allow for individual brand equities to remain intact. The icon also acted as a visual unifier across the full range of Mondelez brands participating in the promotion. The result provided retailers with unique opportunities for merchandising both on shelf and on display, driving consumer consideration and appeal.
Our solution for Mondelez ultimately activated the shared values of the participating brands and U.S. Soccer. More importantly, the promotional packaging design provided consumers with a macro glimpse of the sport, capturing the excitement and spirit of soccer that is meaningful and relevant to consumers of all ages.
Great promotional partnerships can work incredibly hard for a brand, but they often bring with them difficult choices. Successful brand design is about making the right choices. A sound visual strategy provides the roadmap to ensure every decision is made to serve the brand and its objectives. Promotional packaging is a valuable tactic for brands to leverage to incrementally drive sales for the benefit of the brand and the retailer. While the volume benefits are enticing, it is important not to forget that partnership promotions can also be used to raise brand worth. In the dynamic world of consumer brands, we should always take advantage of every opportunity to build equity.