Packaging World recently released an article by Dr. Andrew Hurley, which we found very interesting. In this piece, he spoke of a particular water bottle, because it had captured his attention while in the grocery store. As packaging designers, we are prone to take note of such things, even when we aren’t in work mode.
As many of us do, he couldn’t let go of the fact that the bottle had stood out, so he considered what made it different than the many other options on the shelves of that same store. He then brought those ideas to work with him.
The difference between this and other water bottles, he said, was the fact that it featured anthropomorphic components. That’s not entirely true. This wasn’t a Mrs. Butterworth. The bottle wasn’t fashioned to look like a woman or man. However, it was given a name that would be shared by a portion of the population – Fred.
When we consider the raging success of the Coca-Cola #ShareaCoke campaign, we see just how powerful a simple name imprinted on a bottle can be. Hurley makes the argument that this water bottling company has done something worthy of commendation – they have given this simple water bottle a personality, which is something that any packaging company should strive to do with food bags, flexible packaging, boxes, and bottles.
These products are generic when they exist on a shelf full of similarly shaped products, but the name Fred is one that is familiar to many people. They, then, associate this product with someone they know, or have known, of the same name. It is a simple, common name for, what the manufacturers say is a simple, straightforward product – water. But, it isn’t just a simple name; it is a memory for millions. It is the memory of something that some guy named Fred did, said, or wore. It is a mental, emotion connection that makes it significantly more likely that the consumer will choose this over one of the competing products on the shelf.