TBP’s 20th anniversary: the design research diaries 1993-2013 (Entry 3)


It’s Friday and it’s day three of our 20th anniversary countdown. Today we talk about brand personality and the role in the marketing mix.

It’s only 18 days until our 20th anniversary, and we’ve opened up our vaults to share our insights and musings on design and design research. Find below our third instalment – enjoy!

Entry 3 of 15: The role in the marketing mix

Day 3

“What if this came to life as a person? What would he or she be like?”

It’s a question that we include in most of our research. And while it’s fun for the respondents and invariably raises the mood, it also serves a very important purpose. It reveals something innate, but unspoken, about design: that it has personality.

Some designs wear their personality on their sleeve – like innocent. Others are more subtle (Gaviscon might be a bit friendlier than Nurofen, perhaps?).

It’s also important to get the right amount of personality in design. Too much, and it overbears the product message. Too little, and your product feels cold and utilitarian.

There’s two right ways of doing this – it’s about the balance with the marketing mix.

benandjerryA replicatory approach sees a single message applied across all channels. The pack is the brand is the pack. This is often the best approach if the budget for ATL is limited. Ben & Jerry’s is an example of this – with limited advertising spend, the pack conveys not just the product but is rich in the brand personality.





Alternatively, a complementary approach sees the pack and advertising conveying different, but harmonious messages, enabling a synergy across the marketing mix. This allows a richer message, and frees the pack to focus on what it does best – product credentials. For example, Lynx/Axe’s pack conveys all the gravitas and efficacy that’s needed for the brand to remain credible, freeing ATL to convey the sexiness and irreverence the brand is known for.



Funny Dressed Up Dog_5There is another way – contradictory. This is what happens when the messages clash, resulting in hazy brand values and consumers confused over what you stand for. We won’t be so cruel as to name examples here…




What is your design – replicatory, complementary or contradictory?

By Stuart Chapman