The power of lettres

Posted by Steve on Apr 08th 2014 in: Beer & Cider, Semiotics 101: how packaging attracts by association

Several Cider Brands on a Supermarket Shelf

Logos are not words, they are symbols. The combination of the word and its meaning, exactly how it is written, and how you choose to frame it, is usually the most powerful signal a brand can send. But why stop there? Too many packs consist of a tired formula: Logo, descriptor and product shot in the ‘right’ hierarchy and layout, robbing them of the chance to tell a powerful brand story with the entire pack.

That’s why packaging and branding should never be separated. The pack is simply the most rich and concentrated form of the brand, because we’re asking people to buy our promise, right here right now.

The power of this strategy is evident in this snapshot of the UK’s dynamic cider market: Magners re-booted this category with a new serving ritual and lots of Irish charm several years ago (not much sign of that here). Bulmers copied it for England, and before long cider became ever cooler, with brands like Kopparberg adding some Nordic noir to the mix.

But Stella Artois surprised everyone with the power of swopping two letters and putting on a French accent. Despite being the new kid on the block, Stella uses its packaging to claim the authentic high ground, out-positioning its rivals so that they look like they’re ever so slightly made-up. A big brand showing it understands how to act like a challenger in a new category.