SI: What do you mean when you talk about “harvesting” a brand?
Leslie: It takes into consideration what the brand means to consumers, and what their needs are, including those that aren’t being met, and then delivering on it. With this understanding in hand, you develop branding and design concepts to meet consumer need states and find an appropriate cost of goods that matches the brand owner’s price and branding strategy.
SI: How do you accomplish this?
Leslie: Through in-depth research and a team approach. Understanding consumer needs and perceptions is critical in developing successful products. It starts with looking for needs that consumers have that aren’t being met. If the product is an existing brand, start with the brand’s consumers today and study their world.
Our designers do that first, and then they brainstorm directly with consumers. We’re finding that is the most efficient and best way to get on the fast track with new ideas. Once we have ideas to work with, we put a full design team together to create the design concepts and then show them to consumers for their feedback.
There are advantages to proceeding this way. You can blend packaging aesthetics with cost savings and even create new product categories with products that make busy people’s lives more organized and less stressful.
SI: How does this approach of harvesting, or cultivating, a brand differ from traditional design methods?Leslie: Normally, designers wait for a packaging brief from the product manufacturer. It’s “tell us what you need and we’ll design to meet it.” When you harvest a brand, the collaborative mind-set is different. You meet as a team and come up with a concept.
You ask questions like: Should it be a wipe or a spray? What type of package should it be in, and so on. We’re all helping to define the scope of a product. The traditional model is still to execute a packaging brief.
SI: Are certain brands better suited for the brand-harvesting approach than others?
Leslie: Harvesting works best for existing brands that have strong equities but haven’t taken advantage of them in any new way in a while. People are rooting for them. They’re cheering the brand on as if it’s their old friend.