Product, Package and Brand are three fundamental marketing words for the 21st Century. The traditional 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, promotion and place are still workable cornerstones but for my money consumers have evolved so far and product management has devolved so far that success can not be achieved focusing on these three alone.
These days a product has to be good. No longer can you spin a shizzy product or service and be successful. What constitutes a “good” product in this era though is debatable. Especially in the states. We sell a lot of cheese (poor product) here, but because the cheese is affordable and lasts a year, people buy it. The definition of good, at the lower to middle end of the market, has changed markedly. Make it good and they will come.
Before the web, packaging was what your product arrived in. In 2010, with people spending billions on virtual goods, goods aren’t even goods. Packaging. Point of sale packaging is still important, don’t get me wrong, but the point of sale is different. For those who do product research online the website is the package. A lot of product website homepages are built like old school product packaging: features, bulleted copy, product shots (fail), but that’s a story for another post. These days — and they are amazingly exciting days — advertising, PR and promotion are all part of the package. Access and search have changed everything. The package is now a continuum.
Whenever I hear an art director talk about branding I head for the hills. Sure, design contributes to brand development, in a very big way, but design manicures the brand it isn’t the brand. Apple gets this. Branding is a strategy: an organizing principle that consumers and employees share. It’s a vessel in consumers’ minds filled by an idea and proof. Products may be virtual but brands shouldn’t be. Get the strategy and consumers will get you. Peace!
PS. Anyone digging the new Google logo art on the Google home page today?