linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
last week...
also of interest...


  Packaging Services   Packaging Services  Randall Frost  
Packaging Services He continued, "I think the levels of confidence people have in service brands are infinitely lower than the levels they have in product brands."

In Brand Engagement (2008), management consultant Ian Buckingham profiles unsuccessful attempts to relocate call center services to India, a practice that resulted in soaring numbers of customer complaints and extensive damage to corporate brands, not to mention India’s national brand. The author suggests that these kinds of problems could have been avoided if the employees had been engaged in activities that fulfilled their higher order needs and if they had worked for organizations that shared their values.

According to Buckingham, the way to achieve this is through brand engagement—ensuring the alignment of organizational policies, people and activities with brand values and gearing them toward meeting customer needs. A lack of clarity about values, behaviors, strengths and expertise within an organization, he says, results in significant problems.

The disconnect between personal and corporate values leads to employees trying to protect themselves by adopting on-brand masks, Buckingham says. Instead of delivering authenticity, they present the prevailing culture with what they believe it will find useful. Meanwhile, if the culture doesn’t resonate with their core values, they exhibit defensive behaviors.

The problems facing service brands today bring to mind the role that product packaging played in the late 19th century in helping product brands gain the trust of consumers. Prior to the 1900s, most products were sold in bulk from bins at the point of sale. By the beginning of the 20th century, packages had established product boundaries (limiting the possibilities of product adulteration), even as they associated manufacturers’ names with guaranteed levels of product quality.

But, as historian Thomas Hine notes in The Total Package (1995), one element of early packaging design was also part of a larger social revolution. According to Hine, the practice of putting faces on packages in the early 1900s, for example, was characteristic of a social transition from judging people based on their personalities to judging them based on the masks they wore. These masks or personae allowed strangers displaced by the social dislocations of the late 19th century to interact with relative anonymity. Consumers could get information from package labels that they had previously relied on shopkeepers for.

But in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, package design increasingly reverted to being an expression of brand personality and, in the process, became nearly synonymous with branding. Driven by creative geniuses like graphic designer Walter Landor, package designs resonated strongly with consumers in post-WWII America, whose economy was mainly driven by product manufacturing.

By the early 1960s—as America’s economy was becoming more service-based—the restaurant chain McDonald’s had proved that services could be branded by successfully delivering on promises about service quality. The company’s staff was trained to be friendly, polite and courteous in a way that was completely in alignment with the brand’s promise. In the process, the restaurant chain demonstrated that the trademark, name and design were just elements of the brand that also included an experience.

As the number of service brands grew, expectations about what could be packaged began to shift. Hine said in 2005, “The people who are doing the design aspect of packaging have all in the last 15 years or so tried to cast themselves—recast themselves, as brand experts because they realized that an awful lot of what had to be packaged was in many cases not the physical product.” According to Hine, this included services.

Richard Westendorf, executive creative director at Landor Associates in Cincinnati, shared the following anecdote: “A few years ago, we had a local wireless company [as a client]. When you’re selling services with wireless, there is nothing to sell. All the switching is going on over the wire. But you have to have something tangible to scan. They literally sold it in a box on a peg in a store. It’s an opportunity to express some kind of brand promise in a structure of some kind. It feels like people have that innate desire for [that]—rather than simply enjoying the service. There are all kinds of different ways a package can manifest itself.”

Service Brand Promise
The financial crisis that erupted in the US raised lasting questions about our ability to trust financial service institutions. Buckingham explains, “Reflect on how many financial service brands project brand values like integrity, trust, heritage, customer service and professionalism. Employees understand that this is a marketing stance. Too many, however, also understand that the prevailing internal culture is increasingly characterized by winning, eliminating competition, survival of the fittest and short-termism.”

In his book, Buckingham draws on Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? to illustrate how people can successfully change outmoded behavior. Johnson’s book tells the story of four personable critters who have to navigate a maze to find a new supply of cheese when their old source vanishes. The tale underscores the notion that brand engagement is about changing behavior. According to Buckingham, the CEO and local line managers are responsible for teaching their employees these new behaviors.

Herb Meyers, co-founder of Gerstman+Meyers (now Interbrand) and the co-author of two books on package design, apparently agrees. “It’s really the leadership that sets the tone and thereby selects how their ‘brand’ is perceived by the public,” he says. “Employees follow only what they are instructed to do by the company leaders. If the leaders teach them to be honest and ethical, they will ‘fit into that box’ or they will be fired. If the leaders are not following an orthodox behavior pattern, the employees will not ‘fit into that box’ either.” Meyers, however, does not rule out outside help in getting people on-brand. “It could be a psychologist, or someone trained in behavioral counseling, who develops a ‘package’ to translate the corporate philosophy to the staff,” he adds.

Brand value, after all, begins at home.    



Randall Frost is a freelance writer based in Pleasanton, California. He is the author of The Globalization of Trade. His work has appeared in Worth, The New England Financial Journal, CBSHealthWatch, and a variety of educational publications.

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 116 )  email

Brand Engagement: Packaging Service Brands
 Randall, I love your article. I whole-heartedly agree that engaging stakeholders in the brand building process is essential to creating a sustainable brand strategy. Not to mention, mission and core values. I think the economy is forcing organizations to go through a self-analysis and realize what it important to them. Unfortunately it often takes a financial crisis for organiations to realize that their most valuable asset is their employees. Now is also the time for all organizations to understand that a brand is first a noun. 
Rex Whisman, Principal, BrandED Consultants Group - September 14, 2009
 a wonderfully insight of service brands in relation to product brand. service brands need continous coomuncation, a innovative culture working positive towards the brand image and identity . it requires continous research and set measures to achieve success. service companies must walk the talk and stick to the brand values of companies . 
jackson mutebi, chief executive officier, smart independent worldwide consultancy - September 14, 2009
 This is an excellent article on branding 101; worth sharing with employees. 
Yolanda Perez, Director, Customer Relations, American Heart Association - September 16, 2009
 Great article. Particularly interested to see you quoting Buckingham who is being increasingly acclaimed as someone who foresaw the problems FS brands now face and his book Brand Engagement is an enlightening read - especially on the human aspects of brand development 
- September 17, 2009
 This article/book demonstrates so clearly how brand is really a constant co-creation of the company and the customer. And further, that brand is a journey and not a destination. To Herb Meyers point about outside help being required to help in getting people 'on-brand', a brand coaching model is useful. This approach facilitates the connection between brand values and personal values. Thanks for the reviews and thoughts Randall. 
Cheryl Sylvester, President, Your Brand Coach - September 17, 2009
  brandchannel home archive   2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  | 2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 18, 2009 The Networked Boomer Woman: Hear Us Roar -- Mya Frazier
  Boomer women now spending on themselves.
Sep 7, 2009 After the Fall: What Really Happens to Bankrupt Brands -- Barry Silverstein
  How dead brands live through licensing.
Aug 31, 2009 Guerilla Event Marketing—A Mob in a Flash -- Jennifer Gidman
  Mob mentality connects with advertisers.
Aug 24, 2009 Small Country, Big Brands -- Barry Silverstein
  Swiss brands adapt to a changing world.
Aug 17, 2009 Farmwashing: Big Food’s Branding Woes...Again -- Mya Frazier
  Food brands farm out idyllic perceptions.
Aug 10, 2009 How Sports Brands Create Brand Fanatics -- Barry Silverstein
  Sports brands score with fans.
Aug 3, 2009 2009 brandcameo Product Placement Awards Survey
  Readers react to product placements in this year's number one films.
Jul 27, 2009 Targeting Tots: How Brands Connect with Children -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Brands understand the power of children.
Jul 20, 2009 Rebranding: Looking Beyond Logos in India
  Why some Indian Brands brand beyond logos.
Jul 13, 2009 Brandinavia: Why Nordic Brands Rule -- Barry Silverstein
  How Scandinavia’s Viking roots empower its brands.
Jul 6, 2009 Nouveau Niche: Targeting African Immigrants in the US -- Mya Frazier
  The US’s newest untapped demographic.
Jun 29, 2009 What Now for the Money Brands? -- Barry Silverstein
  Financial brands invest in the future.
Jun 22, 2009 Cleared for Landing? Airline Brands and China -- Laura Fitch
  Can airline brands spread their wings in China?
Jun 15, 2009 African Diamond Brands: Romancing the Stone -- A.K. Cabel
  Can African diamonds cut the cultural glass ceiling?
Jun 8, 2009 Beer Wars: Branding Lessons of the Independents -- Mya Frazier
  Independent beer brands take a stand.
Jun 1, 2009 New Opportunities for Healthcare Brands -- Barry Silverstein
  Healthcare brands learn to operate in the future.
May 25, 2009 Why Brands Have an Eye on Facebook - Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Brands want to friend Facebook.
May 18, 2009 By Design: Luxury Brands in China -- Laura Fitch
  Can luxury brands take mainland China?
May 11, 2009 Ethnic Food Brands: A Guide to the World on a Shelf -- Barry Silverstein
  Ethnic food brands reflect changing tastes.
May 4, 2009 The Purchasing Power of Middle Eastern Moms
  Appreciating the Middle Eastern mother demographic.
Apr 27, 2009 Can Brand Loyalty Be Bought? -- Barry Silverstein
  A faithful look at consumer loyalty.
Apr 20, 2009 Risky Business: When Personalities Promote Brands -- Mya Frazier
  Branding is personal for some employees.
Apr 13, 2009 Made in Japan: The Culture Behind the Brand -- Chauncey Zalkin
  How Japanese people make Japanese Brands.
Apr 6, 2009 Marketing Strategies that Build Value -- Barry Silverstein
  How new ideas create old-school value.
Mar 30, 2009 Trade Shows: Where Brands Make a Stand -- Asher Levine
  How brands represent at trade shows.
Mar 23, 2009 Brandchannel’s 2009 brandjunkie awards results -- Jim Thompson
  The 2009 brandjunkie results are in!
Mar 16, 2009 Packaging: Lessons from Tropicana’s Fruitless Design -- Jennifer Gidman
  Tropicana gets squeezed by loyal customers.
Mar 9, 2009 Franchise Brands: More than a Logo -- Barry Silverstein
  Franchise brands cross cultures.
Mar 2, 2009 BRIC Beauty Brands Looking Good -- Ana Paula Palombo Terzi
  BRIC brands smell of success.
Feb 23, 2009 Magazine Brands: A Niche for Success -- Barry Silverstein
  Magazine brands are bound to niche readers.
Feb 16, 2009 Celebrity Brands: Extending 15 Minutes of Fame -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Can beauty alone make a brand?
Feb 9, 2009 Detroit’s Big Three: Car Brands in a Pile-Up -- Dale Buss
  US car brands’ crash course in brand engagement.
Feb 2, 2009 Airlines 2.0: Online Technologies Take Off in a Recession -- Shashank Nigam
  Airline brands buckle up for economic turbulence.
Jan 26, 2009 The Big Three in ED: Pharma Brands Get in the Mood -- Barry Silverstein
  The ABCs of ED pills.
Jan 19, 2009 Peanut Butter Brands Go Nuts -- Jennifer Gidman
  These peanut butter brands stick together.
Jan 12, 2009 Portuguese Brands: Why the Past is the Future -- Joe Ray
  Old school brands teach new branding lessons.
Jan 5, 2009 Brand Extensions: Risks and Rewards -- Barry Silverstein
  Can brand extensions reach budgeting consumers?