The biggest problem a brand or product manager has is to put himself in the place of a customer… what he sees from inside a company when it comes to packaging, point-of-sale material or even advertising, is not what the shopper sees when exposed to his material. Let me explain:
The brand manager sees a lot of communication isolated from the reality, i.e. his or her pack on the supermarket shelf or the ad among 100s of pages in a weekly.
As the brand so to speak pays his salary, he is logically closely related to the brand that becomes highly important to him.
The shopper, however, is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of other messages far more exciting than a bar of chocolate or a tube of toothpaste. The shopper’s head is full of images such as the goal scored the other day by Messi, or this morning’s traffic accident, or the lover’s comment about his/her hairstyle. Food brands are very low on people’s list of interest.
The brand manager has been exposed several times to the communication and has therefore no problem to see 5-7 different elements in the layout.
The shopper, however, sees the communication for the first time and will see maximum 3 key messages.
The brand manager knows all about the background to the communication in question, the shopper nothing!
The brand manager may be quite visual or has been trained to be, the shopper is usually not interested in visual matters; the shopper may even have ‘bad taste’…
As an example, reading the text in the illustration above most people will not read or notice the second “the” because our mind will only concentrate on 2-3 elements of a layout.
This list could go on and on! The attentive reader will probably by now reason as the brand manager and say: “Let us test what we are doing”! Yes, certain things can be tested and give valuable information. However, is marketing not a matter of surprising the consumer with new, better and different products and messages which she or he most likely cannot imagine? Testing does not answer this!
During my career, I have met many designers who believe that we all see the same things. Well no, unfortunately life is different! How then can we solve this almost impossible equation? The answer is to gain experience and let common sense prevail.
It is a matter of being constantly exposed to new situations and draw conclusions from the various learnings. I suggest to all designers not to sit in an office behind their Mac and dream up new layouts before they have been on the market place and analysed the competitive situation on the supermarket shelves. And why not go on studying a little more about sociology and human behaviour, i.e. learn to what stimuli people react?
To sum it up: In my position as a designer, what would I do? I must be humble in order to realise that I see things differently to what shoppers see. My job is to constantly
- • try to produce unforgettable ideas that communicate and thus sell!
- • simplify in order to amplify an idea;
- • repeat the idea possibly in different executions, different media.
Only when I have visualised the idea in at least 3 media can I get a feeling of its potential to become, over the time, a really great idea with a strong visual identity which involves the consumer. One trump card is to have/create a ritual.
Corona beer, Oreo biscuits or Müller yoghurts & cornflakes are great examples in a supermarket!