The Transformation of Private Brands from Dreadful to Successful
Last month I shared a story about the first brand whose packaging I couldn’t resist and then asked you to do the same. Your responses were both entertaining and insightful. Madeleine, a reader from Seattle, commented that Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape gum turned the simple act of chewing gum into a brand experience. Others recalled Tickle deodorant and L’eggs hosiery as the brands whose packaging made memorable impressions. All three are examples of ordinary products that were elevated because of creative packaging.
I typically refrain from brand bashing, but I’m now going to share the first brand I distinctly remember not liking: The original “no-brand” brand. You know, those CPG products with the dismal black and white labels, banished to their own aisle and referred to as “generic” in the ′80s? Believe me there's nothing like the humiliation of having a pantry full of products void of images, logos and color. But what I couldn’t wrap my adolescent brain around was why these offensive items were in our pantry in the first place. From what I could tell we didn’t have to buy generic.
The reason was simple: It was cheaper. My father was (and still is) an extremely frugal person. He simply refused to pay more just to have a brand name slapped on a product. Turns out he was on to something that took most of us a few decades to realize. Of course, I’m not the only kid who experienced generic brand pantry shame. John Nunziato, founder and chief creative officer of LITTLE BIG BRANDS, has a similar, albeit more inspiring, story. I’m sure there are others of you out there. Maybe we can start a support group? I’m kidding, but private brands today are no joke.
How exactly did private brands go from dreadful to successful? As many of you know, Daymon recently released an Intelligence Report outlining the rise of private brands. Along with a slow shift in consumer trust, an image makeover was also necessary. The name change helped (“private” is selective and sophisticated while “generic” is common and banal). But a redesign was crucial. Take it from someone who lived in a plain package home—it’s dreadful.
So, thank you to all the designers who give our pantries personality and make everyday items more interesting. Speaking of designers, the June issue will feature the rising design stars to watch for (and hire). I urge you to nominate any up-and-coming designers you think deserve to be recognized. Or if you’re a young package designer, nominate yourself! I hear you’re a generation of self-promoters. Prove it!