You see, the challenge for Southern California citrus packers in the early 1900s was to establish a distinctive brand image. Why buy Villa Park instead of Borden when an orange is an orange? At first, the crate labels’ function was to encourage the shopper to develop brand loyalty.
Here are some lessons from then and from what developed from there:
- Pay particular attention to how you present commodity items. Even if the manufacturer’s packaging is the same from one retailer to another, something as small as the way the boxes are angled on the shelves can make your product look more attractive than a competitor’s.
- Be aware of what the label is actually selling. The early California Fruit Growers Exchange orange crate labels portrayed snow-capped mountains and beaches dotted with sun umbrellas. Then around 1922, the packer realized the labels were establishing a distinctive image, all right, but were selling California more than selling the fruit. In fact, the labels didn’t even include a picture of an orange. A redesign changed that. Then around 1935, the labels were again redesigned, this time to give greater highlighting to the brand name, which itself has changed from California Fruit Growers Exchange to the single emotion-packed word “Sunkist.”
- Use shelf tags with comments to add to what the manufacturer’s label portrays. The packinghouses created particular names and labels for fruit that was small or off-color. One objective was to distinguish these from the top-grade premium-priced citrus. These lower-grade offerings had labels with names like Mutt and Camouflage. However, another objective was still to sell the fruit. So taglines were developed like “The Quality is Inside” and “Not much for looks, but ripe, sweet, & juicy.” You can do the same sort of thing on your store shelves to add the appeal of personality to each offering.
- Consider the labels as a profit center in themselves, so trade-protect them. Portraits of Campbell’s Soup Cans and Coca-Cola bottles made money for pop artist Andy Warhol. The LA Times article says that the crate labels have sold for as much as $6,000.
Counteract Problems from Similar Brand Labels