Category: Published Articles

Ready, (Re)aim, Fire: Targeting New Audiences Through Package Design

by Nancy Brown
June 18, 2014

Mom is no longer the only consumer shopping the retail aisle. Changing consumer demographics mean brand owners must rethink their packaging to hit a new bull’s-eye.

Not long ago, it seemed that supermarkets were designed to speak to one audience, and one audience alone: Mothers. Nearly every product in every aisle was designed for Mom and her family. But today, it’s not all about Mom. Consumers are changing and so are brands. There are new generations, new behaviors, new attitudes, and ultimately new target audiences to consider

Successful brands are finding unique ways to reach and attract new consumers to their brand. That often means shifting a brand’s focus away from the traditional bread-and-butter audience, toward another audience that could generate a new revenue stream. This is more than thinking out-of-the-box; this is creating a new box altogether, and it is the way that industry leaders have managed to stay on top of the competition in an age when competition is fierce.

Rethinking gender stereotypes One exciting example of this kind of retargeting is the proliferation of playthings and weaponry targeting young girls. Toy companies such as Hasbro, and Zing have retargeted their typically male audiences after the popularity in […]

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Art vs. Commerce

by Gregg S. Lipman
May 29, 2014

Every year, millions of people shop at Walmart — but few of them are as inspired by what they find in the aisles as artist Brendan O’Connell. O’Connell, who has been the focus of several TV news segments and magazine articles, has been painting on canvas what he finds there: everyday household products like JIF peanut butter, Velveeta cheese and Wonder bread, as well as the people who go there to purchase them. O’Connell’s subject matter is not dissimilar from that of Andy Warhol, another artist who made a career out of portraying the designs that our agency, and others like it, spend days and late nights creating as art. But do we — or even the brands that engage us — get any benefit or credit (or even compensation) from Mr. O’Connell for the subject matter that so inspired him?

In the age of Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, et al., there seems to be an ever-growing blur between art and commerce. Except for when it comes to the business (i.e., the money part) behind the creativity. There the lines become pretty black and white. While artists — like illustrators, photographers and musicians — who develop commercial materials continue to leverage […]

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How Do You Measure Success?

May 20, 2014

By Todd Maute

Private label emerged when retailing was still relatively straightforward. Today, the proliferation is such that we are no can longer rationalize creating a new brand for countless categories. “I have 21 brands and I don’t know what half of them are,” an executive recently said to me. “If I don’t know what these brands mean, how are our shoppers going to?” Every private brand in a retailer’s portfolio needs to tell a compelling story. They also need to have a strategy that addresses consumer mindsets, as well as items that give shoppers a reason to return.

As consumer trends have diversified, product categories have expanded to the nth degree. Historically, with each new trend (organic, natural, gluten free, low fat, high protein, etc.) came a new private brand. And with time, this strategy resulted in extreme brand proliferation. Now that companies have upwards of 10 to 20 unique brands in their private brand portfolios, they should start to consider a new paradigm. Move away from product-led strategies and instead focus on brand-led strategies that deliver against business goals. Instead of creating a new brand for every product, consider developing a brand centered around a role, purpose or […]

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Community Sense Key to Today’s Pharmacy

April 28, 2014

By Joseph Bona

When Norman Rockwell’s portrait of a pharmacist appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post back in 1939, it rang true to readers. The painting showed a moustached pharmacist mixing up a concoction for a child with a doozy of a toothache. It reminded people of their own local druggists, who played central roles in the town and donned many hats in a given day—weatherman, advisor, storyteller, comedian and debate moderator, among them. At the typical small-town drug store, the pharmacist stood behind the counter all day filling prescriptions and chatting with regulars. Old-timers told fish stories and lounged on benches out front. Children filed in after school to buy penny candy from glass jars.

But if this sounds like an era long past, think again. While the setting has certainly changed remarkably since Rockwell’s time, community pharmacies still boast many of the same characteristics that made drug stores such iconic hubs of American life during the 20th century.

For starters, Americans continue to report feeling extraordinarily connected to their local pharmacists. Some consumers will even change stores to follow a transferred pharmacist to another location. And just as they always have, Americans still shop drug […]

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The Business of Creativity: 3 Ways for the Client/Agency Relationship to Work

April 24, 2014

By Gregg S. Lipman

I asked a contractor doing some work on our house for an estimate. The first pass was a lump sum, and he was reticent to line item it. I explained that I too am in the service business, and that I had no issue with him making a fair profit. I just needed to know what the base cost was, and what premium my wife was adding to the party. I’m sure my clients sometimes wonder the same. So here are three things to keep in mind when dealing with your agency.

1. Talk About Value… Even if It’s Awkward

Value is generally understood as the ratio between price and quality. We get it — in the service business, the value equation is hard to peg. In work for hire, agency models are most often based on time — the goal is to get the best work in the shortest amount of time. Clients use leverage to minimize cost (and therefore time). But, fact of life, creativity needs time to “bake” — it is an iterative science where mistakes are made (see Creative Inc., Ed Catmull’s [head of Pixar and Disney’s] new book about creative management], […]

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The Creative Case For Stuff

April 4, 2014

You’ll never have breakthrough ideas if you’re living life entirely through a screen. Which is why Rick Barrack, chief creative officer at branding firm CBX, recently dumped 10 pounds of sand on a conference room floor.

By Rick Barrack

Rick Barrack, the chief creative officer at the branding firm CBX and the man responsible for Duane Reade’s successful redesign, believes that a life lived entirely through a screen is one that’s probably short on genuine creative output. Which is why at CBX, it’s all about the tactile. The objects around his team, Barrack says, help them dream up new directions and identities for their clients’ products. CBX’s office, he says, is “built around the spirit of theatrics” that has gone as far as filling a room full of sand to re-create the feel of a beach. Here, he shares his creative case for stuff.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Stuff Is The Stuff Of Inspiration

“One of the areas that we find really important, particularly in this day and age of the computer and social media and such, we find it necessary and critical to get back to our roots. What I mean by that is, […]

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Approaching Patient Adherence Challenges Through a Consumer Lens

April 4, 2014

By Brian M.

Brand agency author suggests putting the patient at the center of pharmaceutical product/package design rather than the condition.

The drugs and therapies developed by pharmaceutical [companies] often fail to meet expectations, and not just because of their formulations, dosing regimens, or side effects. They fail because the industry at large operates in a way that still believes that once the drug is approved by the FDA, makes it to a pharmacist’s dispensary, and is accompanied by a rockstar ad campaign, the job is done.

And to be fair it is a long haul from discovery to approval—anywhere from 12 to 20 years and up to $1BB. But that’s precisely when the critical job of connecting with people—motivating, inspiring, educating, and cajoling them into following their treatment regimen—begins.

After all, what good to anybody is an untaken drug? Not to the pharmaceutical [industry], which loses an estimated $188 BB in revenue in the U.S. alone,[1] and not to patients and their payers who spend $290 BB[2] on otherwise unnecessary medical care as a result of untaken drugs. More unfortunate is the added irony that the very skills and processes of laboratory science that are foundational to developing these […]

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The Truth Hurts

March 24, 2014

By Peter Burgoyne

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raised some hackles in early February by likening New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to that of “some third-world country.” But few could dispute Biden’s overall point – namely, that too many U.S. airports are in desperate need of modernization. And yet this is not just a stateside phenomenon: Aging airports around the globe are begging to be brought into the 21st Century.

Read more: www.vmsd.com/content/truth-hurts

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Dressing Up Celebrity Alcohol Packaging in Style

March 17, 2014

By Rick Barrack

Brangelina, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and other stars who lend their names to liquor brands are designing the packaging to be consistent with the personalities we see on the red carpet.

A few months ago, megastars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie added another accolade to their long list of joint accomplishments. No, they didn’t become parents for the umpteenth time—they won “Best Rose in the World” in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year issue.

You heard me right; Brangelina is now a premiere winemaker, which is further proof that alcohol is the new perfume, with more celebrities opting to lend their personas to spirits than scents. Stars such as George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Sofia Coppola also are lending their names (and possibly, expertise) to wine and liquor brands, making the local wine store shelf resemble an issue of US Weekly. So how do these stars—who have an army of publicists and Tweeters shaping their public personas—protect their images when it comes to the packaging and marketing of their liquor brands?

George Clooney is a lover of women, Italian villas and—as nightclub impresario Rande Gerber knows—tequila. It seems that while the two were just hanging […]

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Loitering: Critics on both sides of the fence slam limited-service chains

March 14, 2014

By Joseph Bona

Chalk it up to the law of unintended consequences. Forward-thinking limited-service chains have spent the past few years searching for ways to ramp up the customer experience — up to and including encouraging people from all walks of life to use their stores as hangouts and even Wi-Fi-enabled “third place”-style offices. But now the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s face a chorus of criticism from camps with opposite agendas.

On one side are those who are outraged by the decision these chains have made to oust certain loiterers. A Jan. 27 article in The New York Times (“The Food May Be Fast, but These Customers Won’t Be Rushed”) called attention to the trend. It cited PR nightmares such as the Starbucks store that kicked out a group of deaf people who were not ordering enough coffee, and the McDonald’s restaurant that ushered out a group of older Koreans, sparking a worldwide boycott in the bargain.

Don Mitchell, a professor at Syracuse University, was among those none too pleased. He told the newspaper: “Taking up space is a way to claim a right to be, a right to be visible, to say, ‘We’re part of the city too.’ […]

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