We can argue for months about who is responsible for product packaging - marketing, product engineering, etc. - but hopefully we’d agree on these things:
- Product usage is a key part of the brand experience
- Customers are a great source of ideas for packaging improvement
Funny then, what WD-40 got away with all these years.
For those who have never been near a tool bench, WD-40 is a lubricant in a spray can. In what probably seemed like an innovative touch in the late 1950s, the can included a red plastic straw taped to the outside for jobs needing a focused stream or access to tight quarters in order to free up rusty screws, bolts, etc.
Unfortunately, you needed the touch of a surgeon and the patience of Job to get at the straw, assemble it into the spray nozzle, and retape it to the side of the can when done. Invariably, folks would just lay the straw somewhere close. Half of them would lose the straw. Half would end up with a surplus.
So the many die-hard WD-40 fans suffered silently, years on end? Apparently not. WD-40 just launched the Smart Straw (trademarked!), which affixes the old red straw permanently to the nozzle. You will not be surprised to know you can “learn more” at http://www.wd40.com/.
Here’s where it gets nutty:
"For 55 years, the only consistent product complaint with WD-40 has revolved around consumers and trade professionals losing the little red straw," said Garry Ridge, president/CEO…”
I imagine management’s response to straw complaints in the early days would be something that might make Dick Cheney proud. What I can’t imagine is what was said, all of a sudden, in year 50...“Damn that’s the 50th time in a row now. Think we should look into doing something about it?” ?!?!?
Most brands are nowhere near as strong as WD-40 to survive ignoring customer input for 50-plus years. The steps to understanding how products contribute (or detract from) brand experience are essential, and really pretty simple:
- Familiarize YOURSELF with the product (how many creatives, account execs, consultants, etc., are working for a client right now whose product they’ve never actually used?)
- Watch how customers use it
- Gather up and analyze all product input - customer service records, complaint letters, lost-customer interviews, etc.
- Weigh product usage issues against other brand experience drivers
- Address any product issue that ranks in the top five
Now, if someone could just design a way to reset the clock in a car radio that didn’t require three hands, one elbow, a knee and a rabbit’s foot…