What problem are you solving?

Communicating the brand’s USP on the packaging

Scotch-Brite, the flagship brand of 3M, is recognized globally and is a market leader in its category in India.

Yes, that’s the question that every investor is asking startups nowadays. Until and unless you’re solving a real world problem of a consumer, your aspirations to get a good round of fund raising might go down the drain. Customers don’t merely buy products or services, they buy solutions

You may think you have an amazing idea that you’re really passionate about.  But if it doesn’t make life simpler for anyone, it’s not worth a penny. In my opinion, design is the ultimate saviour in this scenario. It can be defined as a ‘Problem Solving tool’ as well. Design isn’t about making things look prettier. It actually focusses on making products, services and processes more efficient and productive. I wish I had the same perspective back in my engineering days when I was playing with electrical gadgets, designing electronic circuits, like those obsolete integrated circuits, or creating robots. Clearly, we need to introduce more of design education in streams like Engineering and MBA as well.

While design deals with complex problems, graphic design particularly deals with problems related to communication. A fine example of the same is packaging design. It can involve resolving a business problem, clarifying the selling proposition to the consumer or simplifying a communicated message visually.

I recall three years back, when we were working with 3M. We were resolving a critical business problem through the mode of packaging design. Scotch-Brite, the flagship brand of 3M, is recognized globally and is a market leader in its category in India. Ordinary scrub pad manufacturers were replicating its green colored packaging and the market was cluttered with ‘Me Too’ brands, giving stiff competition to Scotch-Brite.

The packaging design had to take a strategic approach to visually highlight the brand’s attribute so that it could stand out amongst ordinary scrub pads. We conducted retail visits to study the competition and the brand’s retail visibility. The stacking format of the product in the general trade did not enable the brand to stand out, due to lack of its visibility. The truth is that consumers don’t really spend a lot of time examining a low involvement product like a scrub pad. And because the USP of our brand wasn’t being communicated effectively via packaging, it was losing out to ‘Me Too’ brands as well.

Since the consumers were not aware about any special features, they weren’t convinced to pay a premium for the brand. Therefore, the ‘Me Too’ brands looked comparatively lucrative as they were offering the same at a cheaper price. It became essential to bring out the brand proposition and USP emphatically on the pack, which could make Scotch-Brite stand out superior in technology, amongst the crowd. The key differentiator for the Scotch-Brite Scrub Pad is that it has an S-shape which makes it easier to grip and clean the utensil. That’s the technological edge over rest of the other regular rectangular pads.

In the previous pack, while there was an attempt to communicate the S-shape through a wave shaped window on the top, the same wasn’t working in the market because of the sheer way in which these pads were stacked.  In most of the places, the packs are arranged in the form of a streamer (‘ladi’). The pads settle down and are hardly visible through the window on top.

The key differentiator for the Scotch-Brite Scrub Pad is that it has an S-shape which makes it easier to grip and clean the utensil. That is the technological edge over rest of the other regular rectangular pads.

In the new packaging design that we proposed, the unique S-Shape of the product was emphasized. It was made as the integral part of the design on the FOP in line with the shape of the product inside. It was also mentioned emphatically on the top right hand side of the pack. The transparent window was brought to the bottom, through which the consumer could see the product at all instances and be assured of the claim made on top. Sometimes such a small but smart design intervention can create wonders. In the cleaning category, shine and sparkle are the key elements to depict performance. Hence, our inspiration for the visual hook was the ‘clean wipe’ action along with sparkle and shine representing the benefit the brand is offering. The brand’s proposition of ‘Stain Cutters’ was also conveyed through a unique mnemonic, which could be an ownable asset for Scotch-Brite for any form of communication.

Eventually, the overall design solution not only gave the brand a new avatar, but added specific ownable elements to the brand, making it stand out in the clutter. Due to this, it looked different from the ‘Me Too’ brands and reinforced the brand’s position as the market leader.

Packaging South Asia is the cooperating media partner for drupa 2016 which is scheduled to be held from 31 May to 10 June at Dusseldorf, Germany.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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