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How to tell your branding story in your product

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Telling a brand story through well-crafted marketing copy can capture the essence of a brand. And building those brand messages into the physical product itself can reinforce the brand’s value proposition every time the product is used.

Here are three consumer product marketers who are doing this brilliantly, and some branding advice for your smart marketing strategy.

Old Spice Classic Men’s Deodorant. Yes, it’s been around forever and it hasn’t changed much. But Old Spice has rejuvenated its brand with attention-getting TV ads and a branding strategy driven by its heritage.

Here’s the clever copy that appears on the product label of Classic Men’s Deodorant, where you see it every time you prepare to apply it: “If your grandfather hadn’t used this, you wouldn’t be here.”

While most of us don’t want to think about exactly how we got here, the underlying message–attractive men have always turned to Old Spice and with great results–is the essence of Old Spice’s brand. And because it’s part of the physical product, it’s a can’t-miss marketing message.

Tilley Endurables. Made in Canada, Tilley hats are designed for people who enjoy outdoor life. The company positions its products as long-term investments in comfort and self-protection, so Tilley sews a fabric label inside every hat with a stitched message that reminds you why you spent so much money on a head covering.

“This is the Tilley Hat,” says the label in the classic men’s version. “It is the best outdoor hat in the world. It floats, repels rain and mildew, won’t shrink, and will be replaced free if it wears out. (Yes, put it in your will.)” Boy, were you smart to buy a Tilley is the message conveyed. And your kids will thank you, too.

The company’s Canadian roots are also crucial to its brand identity–the company’s team of perfectionists up north fusses over every detail of the product. The label also assures the user that the hat was “sewn with Canadian persnicketiness.”

Altoids. Candy maker Callard & Bowser has built a phenomenal brand identity for Altoids, the “curiously strong mints” which are so potent they require a metal box. Inside each Altoids package is a paper liner that protects the product.

Clever Callard & Bowser realized that paper-messaging opportunity, but instead of boring copy, they print brand-centric messages on the liner that emphasize the powerful taste of Altoids and the courage of those brave souls who dare to enjoy them. “Not for the Faint of Tongue” and “Enter at Your Own Risk” are two examples.

Because a typical package of Altoids contains about 75 pieces, that’s up to 75 repetitions of the marketing message per pack, one for every time a mint is enjoyed. Not bad for adding a one-line message to a product liner that had to be there anyway.

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing. which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at


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