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Product Attraction Starts (and Sometimes Ends) With the Label

By: James Lowry and Mark Lusky
Posted: July 16, 2012, from the September 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

When it comes to packaging, labeling is the cornerstone of first impressions. For consumers looking for that next great product, you’ve got to give them a reason to explore yours. Finicky and impressionable as most consumers are, getting them to give you more than a passing glance may not be easy—but it doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Following are label development strategies designed to help get consumers from first-look to first-buy:

1. Hit ’em Where They Ain’t

Onetime baseball great Wee Willie Keeler described this as his strategy for his renowned hitting prowess—simply hit the ball where no one can get to it fast enough to get the batter out. In the world of labeling, it of course refers to branding. You’ve got to look and feel different from your competitors and hit consumers in a memorable way that no else does.

One way to do this is color and design targeted to your audience. If your product targets young consumers, vibrant colors and daring design may be just the ticket. However, this look may turn away older consumers, who dismiss it as the label equivalent of total-body tattooing.

If your audience spans a wide demographic and psychographic spectrum, use a label concept that universally entertains, stimulates and/or delights. The old adage about “kids, animals and good-looking people” is old for a very good reason—it still works. Think about branding with enduring and endearing qualities—from the animals on the tails of Frontier Airlines planes and the Geico gecko to the babies featured on E-Trade and Capital One Cash Awards commercials.

And, for stimulation, one need look no further than the wealth of ads in which stunning models are featured.

In your labeling, either capitalize and concentrate on an image or concept already in use by the company—or use this as an excellent opportunity to develop one.

2. Grab ’em With Your Goodness.

Once you’ve gotten a potential customer to notice you and read on, make sure your messaging conveys information consistent with your company and brand values. If social consciousness is important to you, then consider using environmentally friendly labels to demonstrate your commitment to conservation and other green values.

For example, there is now a label made from stone—not trees. Yes, you read that correctly. BioStone and its adhesive are compostable. It can be recycled and re-used, and is both burnable and photo-degradable. There are others, such as Recycled Vellum and Recycled Kraft, as well. As with any label material, it’s important to know its limitations. BioStone can’t be laminated, so it’s not suitable for all applications.