4 Ways to Make**br**Your Product(S) Stand Out
I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
It’s REALLY hard to make your product(s) stand out in a sea of the bazillion other products out there…..
Or is it?
Well, it turns out, you can absolutely make your product shine by doing a few things while you’re creating this baby….
…. things that have helped me over the years turn my own designs into fan-worthy winners.
And in today’s post I’m going to tell you what those things are…..and exactly how you can do it for your products too.
#1. INJECT YOU, AKA THE DONUT PRINCIPLE.
Inject you. What I mean by that is this…..
Think of your product as a donut.
And you want to inject some cream into your product donut…
Or jam, custard, or whatever other filling you prefer to sink your teeth into- without it spilling onto your lap.
The cream you’re infusing into this donut is your story and voice.
You don’t have to drench it, but little details make all the difference in the world. This is what adds the personality that will make you stand out.
And that’s the first thing to make sure your product has…. personality.
Would Milk Bar’s Soft Serve be good without the Cereal Milk flavor and Cornflakes topping? You betcha. But would it be as fantabulous and stand out as it is with them ? No way jose!
How ingenious this is….so simple. It takes me back to when I was a child, holding my cereal bowl with 2 hands up to my mouth, while I slurped up the sugary milk left at the bottom of the bowl, flavored with the remnants of the cereal I just devoured. That’s part of Milk Bar’s personality.
Even the way they show visuals - as in photos of their products - is consistent with this. I love the way they show giant close-ups of their products on IG, showing every layer and detail up close, so you’re doused in the moment and it feels like I can almost taste it right through my Iphone’s screen.
My favorite picture is the ginormous slice of their too-good-for-words Birthday Cake that’s applied directly to the exterior wall of the building at the LA store; it goes from the ground almost to the roof, along the side of the building. Amazing.
Or would Doritos be just as good if you didn’t have that stuff stuck to your fingers to lick off after eating them? I don’t think so…….
A small detail, but you know you’ll be doing some finger licking after you eat Doritos.
This detail adds to your overall Doritos experience, doesn’t it? It’s part of Dorito’s personality.
Whatever your business is, you want to inject you (as in- personality) into your product. That’s what will help you stand out from the noise.
Here’s an example of my own… Years ago I was designing a collection of women’s outerwear, and this example pertains specifically to the down jacket collection.
The thing that always drove me crazy about my own jackets was there was never decent inside pockets for my ‘girl stuff’.
So this got me thinking….and I created an entire inside pocketing system for these jackets that held my phone, my lipstick, my sunglasses, my keys, and another item or two.
What made these pockets special was they were sewn in the exact size and shape of the items they were made to hold (this made it fun and different), and even had small labels with graphic icons depicting these items, letting the wearer know what’s supposed to go in each pocket… as if they couldn’t already tell from just looking at the pockets :)
This detail made our jackets unique in comparison to other brands in the market.
We stood out.
I then took it a step further and designed a special hang tag that hung off the cuff of each jacket to let the customer know about these special pockets inside. The hang tag was dye cut in the shape of the pocketing system.
This made us stand out too.
You get the picture? I infused ‘me’ into the product I was creating.
And you can do the same.
So inject you.
You want to create a personality around your brand and your products.
That’s your uniqueness.
It’s your point of difference.
That’s what will set you apart, and help you stand out from the crowd.
Think about what details you could inject into your product donut that will set you apart.
#2. GRAB ‘EM BY THE COJONES, AKA GET THEIR ATTENTION.
Another way to inject some personality into your products might be with some Wordplay.
…...if it’s applicable to your product.
Copy is a tool that serves as an extension of your brand or the product itself.
It’s your voice.
I don’t have to tell you that your weaving your brand’s personality, voice and taste level into all products, copy, and touchpoints, is an essential part of your branding - so they all tell a cohesive story.
It has to be a 360 degree experience from end to end.
And of course, each brand is unique, and requires a personalized approach.
Wordplay may not even be an appropriate vehicle for your product at all. But if it is, it’s a great way to get your customers’ attention, and leave a lasting impression that leads to buying.
Wordplay can be entertaining, while telling a story and cleverly tap into the spirit of the brand or product. And of course, it must be in your brand voice.
When I crafted a line of collectibles for THE hotel in Las Vegas, their brand said “luxury”, but it didn’t yet say “light hearted and cool”. We needed something different to make customers giggle as they gathered up their souvies from their stay in Sin City.
So here’s an example of how I applied this Wordplay concept for THE hotel:
At the start of the project, I had to create a new brand identity. I’m mentioning this because it has everything to do with how I worked in the wordplay concept. You’ll see in a minute….. So, I first designed an icon logo made out of their current logo/mark for THE hotel, which was staying in tact.
Then I began flushing out a suite of products that used wordplay, taking cues from the name and spelling of THE hotel logo; always with the first word “THE” in upper case, and the 2nd word starting with the letter “h”, written in lowercase, same as THE hotel logo. The products were always black on white, or white on black.
‘THEhangover’ mug complimented the apparel and accessories that spoke to the different alter-egos that emerge on a quick trip to Vegas.
There was also girl specific wordplay, ie: THEhottie, THEhussie, THEho; and guy specific wordplay, ie: THEhipster, THE horndog, THEhunk, and more. All portrayed on different products for customers to buy. You get the picture…..
This same wordplay concept then became fodder for a host of other products besides the expected tee shirts and BB caps, to unexpected products like a woman’s clutch, lingerie, coasters, bracelets & necklaces, dogtags, throw pillows, tote bags, etc… It was fun and well received. A real attention grabber.... and packed with personality.
We achieved the light-hearted and cool feeling these products evoked, through wordplay.
If you want to tippy toe into the world of wordplay, that’s okay.
Not all efforts need be so brash.
A little voice can vault your brand from THE halfass to THE hottest.
Whether you want to be edgy, fresh or foul-mouthed-couture, sometimes a really bold campaign can put you front and center in the hearts and minds of your customers.
But it must fit with your product and your brand.
So here’s another example, one that’s not quite so brash, but still packs in some personality….
This was for Wynn Las Vegas, a high-end resort in Las Vegas…..
I was tasked with coming up with products for a new ‘foodie’ retail concept the hotel was building at the time that paid homage to 12 of their celebrity chefs and restaurants. Products that guests could take home as a memento of their stay, or happily give as a gift.
I wanted to create some cocktail related products- because I don’t know about you, but when I’m in Vegas I like to partake in some libations, if you know what I mean.
When I have a memorable drink, it stays with me.
This philosophy stirred up the inspiration for a few portable bar kits- each full of branded tools for mixing up exotic cocktails, and giving guests carte blanche to mimic the pros upon returning home.
One was a roll-up kit, and the front had a giant embroidery that read SHAKE. MUDDLE. STIR.
Another was a trifold kit, that was emblazoned with an embroidery that read SLICE. MIX. BUZZ; The store’s name was also embroidered underneath as well.
These are also versions of wordplay- just a lot more straightforward, in these products for Wynn.
The name of the game is ATTENTION - and bold messages can get you some - but navigating the waters of wit is easier said than done. It’s a gut-feel, paired with some very strategic planning.
Your brand’s tone of voice must be consistent with every other touchpoint of your brand.
And that applies here too.
You have to determine what that voice is…..Is it…. Playful? Funny? Unfathomable? There’s a range, depending on your brand guidelines and your comfort level with gutsiness. But once you get that green light, let the puns, plays-on-words, and parodies begin!
It’s a great way to give your products personality.
#3. PERSUASIVE PACKAGING; A DELIBERATE STRATEGY
Inject personality in your product’s packaging.
Your packaging can do so much to turn your customers on.
Great packaging creates an intimate moment between you and your customer.
The copy on your product’s packaging can be an additional tool, serving as an extension of the brand or product itself.
You can future-proof your products by wrapping them in packaging that’s entertaining, tells a story, or cleverly taps into your brand’s spirit.
For example, when shipping your product to your customers, think about using a branded packaging tape on the outside of your shipping box. Your box will most likely need some tape to close it anyway, so why not use this as a branding opportunity?
If kitschy fits with your brand persona or product, then print a clever, whimsical saying, or another type of wordplay concept that fits with your brand. If your product/brand is more subdued, print something in that feeling.
Of course, it goes without saying that whatever you print here must be consistent with all your brand messaging.
Or maybe you just want to print your logo, and that’s fine too.
But whatever you do, make it powerful.
You’ll stand out.
Your customers will be excited when they see that box at their door.
Their experience with your brand has now already started, and they haven’t even opened the box yet!
Note, personality doesn’t have to mean edgy, sassy, or even funny. It’s whatever is true and authentic to your product and brand.
I know for me, great packaging can suck me into becoming a brand fan - from zero to sixty in two point five. It also makes for great Insta bait… but I don’t have to tell you that :)
As an example, recently I was designing a lifestyle and apparel collection for a brand whose message was all about love, kindness, inclusivity, and making the world a better place for people, communities, and the planet. Part of the brand’s business model was about giving back, with a portion of the proceeds donating to charity.
I used the packaging as a strategy; a way to further tell the story, while tapping into the brand’s spirit.
When the box arrived in the mail, the customer received a branded box with clear messaging on the outside. It was a complete branded package, and it hadn’t even been opened yet.
The box itself was white, and sealed with a customized branded packaging tape printed with large text repeating “Do good. Feel good. Repeat.” in a running text based design, along with the red logo. This was a message consistent with the brand’s ethos and all of the brand’s messaging and communications.
Once opened, the customer experienced a branded sticker closing the 2 sides of red tissue paper within, which held the product/s inside it. There was also a Love Note housed inside an open ended envelope. (The Love Note had a printed quote about love and kindness). A pin with a branded message was attached to the Love Note. Under the tissue paper was the product itself (coming in a keepsake pouch), revealing a hangtag pinned to the garment, telling the brand’s story in a manifesto type setup.
It was all very deliberate and delivered the brand’s message consistently, telling a cohesive story about the brand and every product offered.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider with your packaging:
I’ll get into these topics more in future posts.
Sway them with persuasive copy.
Entertain them with a message.
Endear yourself by telling your brand story.
Inspire them with your commitment to sustainability.
Build trust by sharing your company policies transparently.
Surprise them with something unexpected.
Engage them on Social with a call to action or campaign.
Make them feel special by personalizing their order.
#4. NEW BRAND EXPERIENCES: THINK BEYOND THE ACTUAL PRODUCT, AKA THE BIG PICTURE.
To emerge as a winning brand and stand out from the noise, it can also be about thinking beyond your actual product and creating new experiences with your product(s) /brand, which will in turn have a direct impact on the customer’s perception of your products and brand.
What do I mean by that?
Align your brand with larger cultural movements that resonate with both new and existing customer groups, if it’s applicable to do so.
Let’s use Cadillac as an example. Cadillac, a heritage brand, needed an injection of ‘cool’ in order to capture a new and younger audience.
So here is an iconic American auto brand (founded in 1902), with a long history in popular culture, coming of age alongside the Hollywood film industry, with countless product placements over the years.
But to court a younger customer, Cadillac aligned with modern cultural institutions to engineer cool back into its DNA.
When Aretha Franklin died this past summer (August 2018), Cadillac paid homage to the singer and her iconic song “Freeway of Love’, which mentions pink Cadillacs in the lyrics.
The company unveiled a social post featuring Cadillac’s vintage logo set against a pink backdrop, with the word RESPECT, garnering 300m impressions. The same image appeared in several newspapers’ full page tributes, as well as pink LED screens atop their headquarters in Detroit.
The brand also teamed with Art Basel Miami, unveiling an activation for music and art lovers. The opening soiree featured digital art projected onto cars and entertainment from rising musical talent.
This is a heritage brand connecting with culture- and creating experiences that capture younger and new audiences.
And in doing so, they injected ‘cool’ back into their brand.
Blending culture and heritage, while restructuring communication to stay modern.
(Sidebar note: There was also a parade of over 100 pink cadillacs in Aretha’s funeral procession, but that was not organized by Cadillac. Still. it was a great moment, and a fitting tribute to the queen of soul. I just had to mention that.)
Cultivating an emotional connection with our customers is more important than ever, especially for online brands. This on-demand, digital-first world we live in today has an endless supply of choice.
And we need to think outside the box - beyond the status quo, about how to engage with customers, and trigger emotions.
After all, emotions make people buy.
So in conclusion, remember to inject personality in your products.
Everything I’ve mentioned previously in this post is about injecting personality into your products, which in turn brings your brand to life by evoking feeling and emotion, and makes you stand out.
Regardless of how great you think your product is, how much you love the design, and how big or small your business is, your uniqueness can be THE thing that separates you from the pack and helps you stand out from all the noise.
And you can express your uniqueness in many ways, including using some of the examples I’ve outlined for you here in this post, as a start.
So go inject that donut. To repeat what I wrote earlier, it’s your uniqueness.
Try some wordplay, where (and if) it’s applicable.
Use packaging as a branding opportunity with your messaging.
Think beyond the product itself, and into big picture brand experiences, connecting with culture.
That’s what will set you apart, and virtually eliminate your competition.
Leverage your uniqueness.
Your product will stand out from the noise.
Your message will resonate because it’s based on something real and authentic.
We know that customers will purchase from brands they believe to be authentic, in lieu of shopping with their competitors.
Customers want authentic connections with brands, and they demand (and reward) honesty and transparency.
And with that, you can build leverage around your story.
If this resonated with you, let me know in the comments below. Plus…
I’ve created a fill-in-the-blank Worksheet for you that recaps these ideas with prompts to help you brainstorm, list, and implement your ideas - - to make your own product(s) stand out.
You can download it through this link. Just click on the link!
Have fun and enjoy!