Full Product Branding with Self-Adhesive Films: What Does It Really Mean?
An in-depth analysis of the concept and ways to incorporate it into your business
By Roland Castonguay, New Business Development Manager — Outdoor Product Branding, FLEXcon
& Michael Chevalier, New Business Development Manager — At-Retail Product Branding, FLEXcon
By promoting full product branding concepts to their clients, imaging compaines create opportunities for a wider range of profitable imaging output - from carpet graphics and window ads to shelf advertising and vehicle wraps.
Specialty imagers are in a unique position to increase sales and marketability for themselves and their clients with self-adhesive films. Most understand the effectiveness of self-adhesive (or pressure-sensitive) vinyl, polyester and other films in product identification and package decoration, as well as their use in the many types of at-retail, at-home and outdoor graphic advertising applications. But what many imaging companies are not aware of is the films’ capabilities to offer more to clients with little risk.
Advertisers and brand owners are increasingly looking for new avenues to enhance their product recognition and identity. Building their brand is an important part of breaking through the clutter of messages in today’s consumer market. With this, they may struggle to understand the opportunities available to them in specialty graphics and imaging to broadcast their message. Graphic applications — from cooler advertising, window graphics and advertising on the floor to taxi tops, subway station signage and banners — offer a wide array of opportunities, with more surfacing daily. But most importantly, combination and consistency in these advertisements secure the brand’s value. Self-adhesive films — used by specialty imagers — are an optimizing opportunity for everyone involved.
We’ve discussed the Full Product Branding concept to specialty imagers at previous SGIA Expos. Let’s take an in-depth look at this concept, and how it can directly and positively affect your business.
Full Product Branding: In a Clutter of Messages, Repetition Works
Full Product Branding targets consumers from the moment they walk out the door, and aims to drive that consumer traffic, with self-adhesive film as the chauffeur. Let’s look at an example in which a consumer is hit with a multitude of advertisements and how repetition is important in standing out:
Jack leaves his 34th floor Manhattan apartment to run some errands. He walks a few blocks to the subway station. As he waits for the subway, he sees a sign advertising the new Gillette Fusion razor, and remembers he received a direct mailer magazine insert on this razor just a few days ago. Upon exiting the station, he sees a number of taxi-top advertisements, a flashy window graphic advertising a sale and a wrapped bus for the new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. Jack walks into the drugstore with his list. He walks down an aisle, grabs shaving cream and when picking out razors, is hit with a shelf advertisement of the same Gillette Fusion razor he saw in the subway station. He decides he will try it. As he moves through the store, he walks over a carpet graphic, picks up a coupon at a corner display and decides to buy a new lip balm at the check-out counter after seeing a bright counter-mat advertisement, made with a metallic film. While walking back to the subway, Jack sees a bus-station kiosk advertising the same Met exhibition. When his friend Jane calls his cell phone to confirm plans for the evening, Jack suggests they go to see the show at the Met and enjoy drinks on the rooftop deck.
In today’s consumer market, advertising and marketing spaces are found just about anywhere. Each of the advertisements that Jack encountered was made possible with self-adhesive film. This example shows the clutter of advertising messages a consumer encounters in just a short time period, as well as the influence that repetitive messaging has in the consumer’s purchase decision. Utilizing a full product branding approach by combining at-retail, at-home and outdoor applications helps the advertiser and brand owner reach their audience in complex and sophisticated ways.
Self-adhesive film has the versatility to produce unique graphic solutions for challenging surfaces and locations, while providing consistency in the look and feel of the graphic. The quality of the advertisement and relative impact of the brand logo and design remain eye-popping through proper color matching and ink decisions. Used in combination with an adhesive (whether cleanly removable or aggressive and permanent) as well as an over-laminate for graphic protection, self-adhesive film can carry the messages repeatedly to consumers in challenging locations. Specialty imagers can position themselves to offer multiple advertisement types and further help advertisers and brand owners drive consumers to a purchase.
Branding has been an industry concept dating as far back as the 19th century with the development of packaged goods. Branding has been described as “a name, logo, slogan or design scheme associated with a product or service. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the use of the product or service and through the influence of advertising, design and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the product, and serves to create associations and expectations around it.” Building brand recognition, and ultimately driving consumer purchase based on that brand association, is a desired outcome for any advertiser and brand owner.
Today, changes in consumer lifestyles influence how advertisers and brand owners can communicate with their audience and build brand recognition. Years ago, radio and TV advertisements hit the majority of consumers, but today, people are much more on the go, and the advertising industry has evolved into new and broader means of reaching audiences. Indoor, outdoor and at-home advertising concepts are being adopted in relatively large ways, and as the following statistics show, there are reasons why.
According to the most recent Arbitron National In-Car Study, Americans indicate they spend more time in the car and believe they encounter more traffic. Approximately 39 percent of Americans say they spent more time in the car compared with the previous year, with daily time spent in cars tripling that of reading a newspaper. Roughly 70 percent say traffic has gotten worse, which could lead to an increased opportunity to impress the consumer with transit and roadside advertising. This same study found transit advertising and street furniture are noticed by a large number of Americans, with buses ranking 61percent, bus stops 57 percent and taxis 45 percent. (Interestingly, awareness of taxi advertisements is especially strong among those with annual incomes of $50,000 or more.) (The study was completed in conjunction with Edison Media Research in December 2003.)
Industry research also shows 75 percent of purchasing decisions, or more, are made in stores. According to POPAI Research, in-store ads on cooler doors — with a photo of the beverage — lifted soft drink sales by as much as 33 percent; small-convenience items at the checkout deliver a 30-percent sales lift when combined with a brand logo, photo and price savings; and outdoor POP lifts indoor sales. (The Supermarket Channel Final Report was conducted in conjunction with the Advertising Research Foundation in 2002.)
With the goal of increasing brand recognition through the best means to reach audiences, Full Product Branding with self-adhesive film stands in the forefront of these industry trends. It incorporates a variety of applications to reach consumers. Oftentimes, an advertiser or brand owner needs guidance from experts who understand the materials and equipment that convey their advertising campaigns.
Implementation Steps Forward for Your Business
Implementing the Full Product Branding concept into your business model means increasing value with little risk or investment. Specialty imagers need mostly to incorporate a new level of thinking, partner with specialists and understand their capabilities. Let’s take a look at some simple steps:
- Grasp the big picture. Full Product Branding is a big picture vision. It involves being able to see all of the possibilities available to your client — the advertiser or brand owner. Recognizing the possibilities are endless allows room for growth and opportunity for you and your clients. In Full Product Branding, everything starts with the package and builds from there. The printing of the label turns into the printing of the decal, window graphic and carpet graphic. In knowing the true impact comes through a combination of advertising pieces with aesthetic consistency, you will be in a position to talk the same talk as your clients, or even better, show them the way. When you see the big picture, everywhere you walk you see an opportunity for your client.
- Know the industry. Understand the way advertisers and brand owners think and act. Those intimately involved in creating the brand logo and branding campaign care about the consistency of the brand advertising pieces, and the impact each piece gets when presented to the public. To be further informed, specialty imagers should get involved with industry associations that have a plethora of information to share about advertising trends and successes. These industry associations can often properly represent, in a broad sense, how advertisers and brand owners currently think and what is driving their creative campaigns. SGIA is obviously an important organization that is geared to helping you build a solid business. Some others we suggest are the In-Store Marketing Institute, POPAI The Global Association for Marketing At-Retail, and Outdoor Advertising Association of America, for their specific analysis in the areas of in-store, at-retail and outdoor, respectively — areas
that drive consumer purchases and brand awareness.
- Get to know your current client and any others that come your way. By implementing a policy aimed at understanding what your client is doing outside of the work you are involved in, you may discover opportunities to expand your offerings. If you produce the label or packaging for the clients, ask them what kind of in-store and outdoor advertising they do to further promote their brand to consumers. For example, a printer currently prints labels for a lawn mower company. In asking the client where else the brand is printed, this printer may find out the branding logo and advertising message is also on banners in the showroom at Sears and as a decal on the delivery trucks. But it is not on the floor in the store or part of a direct mail piece inside a magazine — the client never thought about these areas. In fact, because most of the lawnmowers are sold in the outdoor section during the summer season, the client didn’t think a graphic on the floor would work, until the pr
inter told the company about durable graphics used specifically for outdoor environments, which adhere and perform well on cement. The imaging company is capable of printing all of these applications while keeping the color and quality of each piece consistent. By positioning yourself as a full product branding expert, you are adding value to your services.
- Know the graphic application possibilities. We’ve mentioned in-store, outdoor and at-home advertising applications, but what are they exactly, and how do you know they are possible? These advertising opportunities run the gamut. Some of the more recent applications include outdoor cement columns, carpet graphics in retail settings, mouse pads and coasters. Unique surfaces and solutions are being created daily: Seat-back trays in airlines, advertising in parking lots that include parking stripes, luxury suites in arenas and stadiums and even taxi-wheel covers that don’t spin while driving! The best way to have a wide range of application ideas is to consult with partners in the field who can keep you up-to-date on the latest materials and inks that make these applications possible.
- Partner with a material specialist who has strong application focus, and can offer a broad array of products that create custom solutions for unique advertising challenges. Not only will a material specialist expand your capabilities, working with one can offer multiple solutions that will further enhance your clientele relationships. A recent example: A printer came to us with a client dilemma — a permanent wall wrap continued to peel off at the top. Upon investigation, it was found the paint in this area was rougher than on the rest of the wall. We first recommended an aggressive adhesive, and when it didn’t quite do the trick, we recommended doubling the adhesive thickness. This combination succeeded. We helped the printer solve the client’s issue — to the client’s great satisfaction — as this problem seemed endless. In partnering, you will be in a position to offer a variety of options to your clients’ branding and advertising needs. By taking the time to understand
the application surface and work with a material specialist, you can save yourself and your client time and money by getting the job right the first time. Furthermore, in bringing a material specialist with application know-how into meetings with your clients, they will be able to help you respond immediately to the creative discussion — another added value to your business.
- Understand your equipment capabilities. Oftentimes, printers do not realize the many graphic application options that can be run on the printing and laminating equipment they currently have. Perhaps you use your solvent inkjet printer primarily for graphic ads for floors. But did you know you could use the same equipment to produce window graphics, counter mats, cooler and door graphics, back-lit displays and carpet graphics? The opportunities continue for the solvent inkjet with vehicle wraps, billboards, taxi tops, magnets, wall wraps and bumper stickers! Again, the application possibilities are endless. Knowing your equipment capabilities not only increases your services to clients, but also maximizes the use of your printing equipment, further profiting your business.
- Recognize when the needs of your client are beyond your capabilities, and outsource. Sometimes, you simply cannot fulfill a request from a client because of the equipment you have on hand. This is no reason to lose that client to another company. Build relationships with printers in your area that have other capabilities outside of your company’s, and partner with them to meet your client’s needs. If you are a litho printer for example, you may want to partner with a digital printer for short-run orders that could come your way. Having that partnership in place beforehand ensures a smooth outsourcing experience, and one you know you can trust. In the end, your clients are happy they can continue to go to just one shop for their production needs.
- Expand your capabilities. In some cases, you may find buying a new piece of equipment would be a wise investment. In order to test the waters, we suggest you first spend time proposing creative solutions to your clients as mentioned above and outsourcing to assess the demand for that type of print application. If you find you are in a position to outsource more and more, you can safely assess the benefit of expanding your own capabilities.
Ultimate Brand Equity
Part of the brand experience is ensuring the logo and brand message looks good all the time. While we speak mostly about the brand promotion, there are three key components in total brand equity that are also important to a positive brand experience: Brand identification, brand performance and brand security. The implementation of all these components provides the ultimate in brand equity, and fully encompasses the full product branding concept.
Brand Identification and Brand Performance
Products have a number of markings that refer to the product’s identification, including nameplate labels, bar code labels, safety and warning labels as well as instruction labels. Each of these feeds into the brand’s identification and can affect a consumer’s brand experience. In most cases, these labels need to stay adhered to the product for the product’s life. While color and imagery of the brand label is crucial in brand recognition, the performance of that label along with the performance of these other identifying labels is important in total brand equity. A failing label can lead to a failing brand experience.
Brand security is increasingly important in protecting the brand in today’s varying consumer markets and growing worldwide black markets. Brands can protect themselves by choosing to put authentication labels onto their products. A custom holography label can be used to track if the product is authentic or a knock-off. This speaks to the importance of brand security and how this plays into the total brand equity.
Self-adhesive films are used in all of these brand equity components. They are especially successful at carrying out the brand message with consistent color and graphics, while fulfilling performance requirements. Specialty films, such as a silver metallic film, are used in holographic and authentication labels. Here again, we encourage you to understand the industry, understand your client and grasp the big picture in full product branding.
Do it First, Do it Best
Specialty imagers implementing the full product branding approach are in the best position for total client satisfaction. They have created a supportive environment where innovative ideas can be developed efficiently and with little error. By grasping the big picture, building relationships with clients, knowing the industry and partnering with other experts in the field, specialty imagers can help clients realize their advertising campaigns to the fullest extent and increase their own business revenues. When a printer comes up with a unique solution for a client, the company expands its market size as well. Expanding the market means more opportunities for everyone — minimizing competition and maximizing opportunity. Working with a healthy knowledge and resource base, you can assess creative solutions to complex problems, and be in line to do it first and do it best.
This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, 4th Quarter 2007 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2007 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.