Jack’s New Home

Brown Forman just announced a revised and revamped package for Jack Daniel’s. Bloggers and industry observers are starting to weigh in on the pluses and minuses, so I thought I’d jump in as well.

Once upon a time, manufacturers were frightened of package changes. Concerns about loss of heritage and denigrating the brand’s equity were always the main “don’t do it” arguments. But the most damaging concern was “what will the consumer think.” Over the years, I’ve even heard it said that a package change would suggest a product change and result in erosion of appeal among consumers.

Baloney. Well, sort of.

If a packaging shift involves walking away from the key elements of a brand’s equity then it is doomed. The best recent example of that is the fiasco with Tropicana. The main icon, an orange with a straw, was removed in favor of a nondescript glass of juice. As you may recall, the package change effort was a disaster and Pepsico reverted to the original in a hurry.

However, if a manufacturer evolves or tweaks the packaging by removing the clutter, making it less wordy and updating the message, I believe it enhances the consumer relationship and brand equity. I haven’t seen the new package as yet but from what I’ve read, the new Jack Daniel’s look does just that. Good for you for making the brave call.

One last thought — I call it the chicken soup approach to marketing. Turning a brand’s performance around based on packaging changes, major or minor, is like chicken soup when you have a cold. It may not help but it can’t hurt.

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2 comments

  1. I love chicken soup. But in the case of packaging I think a change can hurt, at least sometimes.
    Let’s say the brand has a loyal following and the package makes it harder to recognize. It takes the consumer more time to find what they are looking for, while creating more opportunity to try something new.

    And if the look of the package doesn’t match the price point for the product, there’s a shoppers’ conflict that might not have a happy ending for the brand.

    I’ve learned that it’s often not about the iconic icon that no marketer wants to touch because it’s been on the label since 1777. Talk with consumers and you find out they never knew it was there and now that you point it out they have no clue what it means or what it should represent to them.

    Have you ever heard the phrase, “the package is the product”? Ask your clients and drinkers to draw a picture of your product and the picture will look like the bottle with the label. Rarely will the consumer draw a picture of the liquid.

    Just saying it makes sense to be circumspective about package/label changes. A little care and dare I say, research, can’t hurt.

  2. I simply believe that changing packaging should be a hard process. It should be done with much thought and discussion, because so much is riding on it.

    And the change should never move the look closer to the competitors, the idea is to stand out or remain true to the heritage.

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