Good things come in good packaging – effective packaging of products

Brooks O’Kane

If you stripped the label off a traditional bottle of Coca-Cola–the curvy, old-fashioned, small container-everyone would still know what it was.

And if you took away the bottle, the label still would speak volumes about the product.

You don’t need Coca-Cola Co.’s advertising budget to get the recognition that comes with putting a superior product in a distinctive package.

As president of ClearVue Products, Inc., a Lawrence, Mass., company that makes glass-care products for home and automobile use as well as Red Cross Nurse-brand hospital disinfectant, I compete with a lot of name-brand giants. With just three employees, a small advertising budget, and only half-interest in a copy machine, that might seem impossible to do effectively

You would recognize my competition’s glass-cleaning products because they are blue. Mine, therefore, had to be different, and smart packaging was essential to set the company apart.

With annual sales of $4 million and products ranging from ClearVue glass cleaner to Pro Tec Tint, a cleaner and protectant for the tinting on car windows, to Volcano Juice, a de-icing additive for windshield-washer fluid, we have succeeded in carving a place in the market.

Here are some secrets to making your products stand out on retailers’ shelves:

Say it with graphics. No one needs to read the card on a bouquet of red roses to know the sender’s message. Similarly, good packaging and thoughtful use of images can convey a lot about a product before a buyer even picks it up.

Our clear glass cleaner is in a clear bottle to reinforce the idea that this product will give you a clean, clear view through your windows. Pro Tec Tint is in a sleek, high-tech-looking black bottle to emphasize that it is an advanced formula designed for use on dark tinting.

The lettering for Volcano Juice, our newest product, has an explosive look to it, while the clear bottle and fluid allowed us to put the dramatic image of a smoking volcano on the back side of the label, giving us, in effect, two labels with which to convey the message that the product is an effective de-icer.

Choose your words carefully. When looking for a name for our new window-tint cleaner, I wanted to combine packaging that jumped off the shelf with a name that clearly conveyed the product’s purpose. “Pro Tec Tint” said it all.

Written vertically down the front label of the solid-black bottle, the name lets buyers know that this is a professional-quality product, specifically formulated to clean and protect window tinting.

Use your package and label to their best advantage. As with the packaging for Volcano Juice, the clear bottles of our glass cleaners let us print on the back of the front labels, giving us space to tell our company story and the products’ histories.

Be a standout, inside and out. The bouquet of roses sends a message, but it won’t do the fob if all the flowers are dead within 24 hours. Standout packaging gets people to buy once, but only the product keeps them coming back. If all you have is flashy packaging, customers will be disappointed.

Mark your territory with color. Though the overall image of each ClearVue product differs, each product’s packaging is designed to use some combination of our company colors and the image of a sunburst so that customers know they are buying from us.

Check out the competition. Packages need distinct personalities. Examine your competition’s packages, then develop a distinctive look of your own. The high-tech look of our window-care products is vastly different from the sterile white and decidedly retro look of our Red Cross Nurse disinfectant.

Whether it’s a little package or a big one, everyone knows that the present with the biggest bow must be special. You can convey the same thing with good packaging.

Brooks O’Kane prepared this account with Contributing Editor Susan Biddle Jaffe. Readers with insights on starting or running a small business are invited to contribute to this column. Write to: Entrepreneur’s Notebook, Nation’s Business, 1615 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20062-2000.

COPYRIGHT 1996 U.S. Chamber of Commerce

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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