Bring your brand to (real) life.

The Proof is in the Package
January 27, 2011

I have a bad habit of getting on my computer when I get home from work and spending a good hour (or 2…or 4…) perusing the interwebs. As if sitting in front of a computer during the day isn’t enough, I go home and Facebook stalk my friends instead of doing the laundry. Productive!

On the other hand, I’ve found some pretty inspiring and motivational tidbits while “wasting time” on the internet, so maybe it’s not such a horrible thing that I’m down to my last pair of emergency socks?

The other night I came across Tuned Pale Ale.

Falling into the “Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That!” category, these guys actually combined beer, science, and music (okay… and great design) all into one genius product. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to share it with the world. Or get my hands on some… I’m already envisioning how awesome my Backyard Beer Bottle Band is going to be. (Our first piece will be “Beer Bottle Variations on a Theme of Hot Cross Buns”. It will be epic.)

It got me thinking about promotional products and campaigns, and why they work (or don’t, in some cases). I’m consistently asked, “What’s new? What haven’t we seen!? What can we hand out that is different from everyone else?”

I often have difficulty answering this question because, quite frankly… you’ve probably seen it. Case in point; Erin and I attended a “New Products Showcase” last week, and out of the 30 or so supplier booths we passed, there wasn’t one thing that stood out as new or different to me. It was a lot of the same stuff we’ve seen for the past few years, now available in Burnt Sienna!

How do we solve this dilemma of standing out in a sea of sameness?

I say, instead of starting out by trying to find a unique product, why not start with YOU? What is it that you or your company does that is unique, fun, new, or different? How do you stand apart from the rest of your industry? What is the message you want to send? Once you narrow this down, you might find that the best product to convey the message is something simple and ordinary in a creative package.

The guys who created Tuned Pale Ale didn’t create anything new. Micro-Brewing has been popular for a few years now, and everyone I know has blown across a bottle to make a sound. But they found a way to take something common and turn it into something unique and fun; just by adding some interesting packaging. And I bet it doesn’t have to win a taste contest to move some product.

Here’s an example from a client of ours, Ener1, who designs and manufactures advanced lithium-ion batteries for machines like… oh… electric cars. Instead of handing out their wordy informational brochures in a folder, they decided to put them inside a static shielding bag similar to the bags in which their batteries ship.



Nothing new or unique about what they are handing out, but they packaged it in a creative way that says something about who they are as a company.

The lesson? If you’re looking for a great new way to promote your company, the best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd isn’t necessarily the product. Sometimes, it’s the package.

So, the next time you are searching for a way to make your promotions stand out from the crowd, give this approach a try and see how it works for you. And if you need some help… well… you know who to call.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some browsing… er… laundry to do.