Oct 11, 2021

The value of innovating with distinctive brand assets

Steve Osborne, Partner at Osborne Pike and Will Davis, Founder at Studio Davis, talk about the importance of avoiding generic designs when it comes to seasonal confectionery.
Elisabeth Skoda

Since the publication of ‘How Brands Grow’ back in 2010, the way that many brand owners view their packaging design has changed for the better.

By coining the term ‘Distinctive Assets’ and demonstrating their huge value to brands, Byron Sharp and his team have validated the principles that strategic design agencies have always held true: Don’t keep re-inventing your brand identity. Evolve it very carefully, to maximise the power of the distinctive elements that consumers have already memorised.

As Sharp points out, marketers who work with brands every day can easily get bored of their brand’s look, or fear it is losing out to the latest shiny object on the shelf. This can lead to re-designs that follow fashion, trends and competitors instead of the brand’s distinctive, ownable identity.

Consumers don’t get bored of a brand’s distinctive look; in fact they often depend on it to help them navigate the stressful task of shopping.

Distinctive confectionery

A surprising variety of elements, from a jingle to a typeface, can count as Distinctive Assets, but in our experience it’s usually the logotype (a distinctive way of writing the brand name), unique colours, or a bespoke packaging shape that are the main triggers of instant recognition.

In categories like confectionery the product itself can also be designed in a unique form, providing an extra potential source of distinctiveness.

From Toblerone and Terry’s Chocolate Orange through to Kit Kat and Ferrero Rocher, it’s clear that many brands in this category trade on just such assets.

Seasonally generic

When it comes to seasonal offerings, however, brands often default to generic chocolate shapes with a bolted-on logo.

Yet seasonal special editions are good business. Whilst some consumers are buying less confectionery on a day-to-day basis they still want to treat their family and friends at key seasonal occasions, and they are prepared to pay more: pence per gram for seasonal products is significantly higher than on standard lines.

Smarties’ smart characters

Spotting this opportunity, Nestlé partnered with the combined expertise of Osborne Pike, specialists in creating and managing Distinctive Brand Assets and Studio Davis, experts in 3D Brand Innovation.

Our brief was to bring some much-needed inspiration to the seasonal chocolate figures shelf, rooted in the Smarties brand assets.

Talking with Mums and Kids validated our proposed approach: a family of characters ‘made from’ Smarties, with the playful and imaginative personality that they associate with the brand.

The value of the research was turbocharged by the creation and rapid adaptation of 3D printed figures, allowing consumers to respond to the designs in a natural way, without getting sticky fingers!

The insights confirmed the appeal of both character design and packaging created with the Distinctive Assets of Smarties: the specific ‘lentil’ form, the rainbow of colours and the shakeability.

The final result is a whole family of appealing branded 3D figures and packaging, in four different sizes and price points, from 11g impulse single figures to a full character ‘family’ gift set.

Launched this Christmas (which as we all know starts in September), sales results showed a +75% YOY increase, comparing the new Smarties Penguins and Santas versus last year’s more generic figures.

Social media showed that consumers found the characters highly engaging, and as such perfect for gifting and stocking fillers.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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