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Reaching the Right Man: Make Your Packaging Work Overtime

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: November 9, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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It’s not just the colors and logos used that contribute to a brand’s message—the bottles and components themselves can make an impression as well. Aveda has long been known for its environmental responsibility, and its Aveda Men packaging is made of 95% postconsumer recycled material. Of course, it still has male-specific appeal. “The bottle form for the shampoo takes cues from a beer bottle—we took a look at the neck and shoulders, and used design cues that appeal to men,” explains Davidson. “It differentiates it from a regular shampoo bottle.”

When the packaging is visually appealing, it’s a benefit for your brand story; when it’s functionally unique as well, it’s an added benefit for the end-user. TowelDry’s shampoo bottles, created by TricorBraun, were designed with a wide, flat cap so that the bottles could be stored both right-side up and upside-down, the latter a gravity-fed position. “We print the label one way on the front and upside-down on the other side so that the consumer can read it either way,” says Wells. Additionally, the bottle includes a moisture seal in its flip-top cap so that water cannot get inside when it’s stored inside the shower, eliminating the risk of condensation buildup.

The Payoff

While men are notoriously brand-loyal, brands looking to clarify their message through their packaging shouldn’t delay for fear of alienating their existing consumers. “If packaging changes just for the sake of change, or if a product has a big starburst on it that says ‘New Packaging,’ most people just think, ‘Why?’ ” says Davidson. “Change should be for a reason—it should better help a brand reflect its point of difference. If there is more richness to a brand’s story, people will react positively.” Roach agrees, “So long as their image with the brand isn’t shaken, men shouldn’t react negatively to change.” He adds a caveat, however: “Packaging and design are cosmetic changes. If the product itself changes for the worse and deteriorates the brand promise, no amount of great graphics is going to save it.”

Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of GCI magazine and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Skin Inc. magazine, Salon Today, America’s Best, Renew and Modern Salon.