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Have you ever gone to a specific aisle in a store looking for a product but not sure which brand to purchase? Then, confronted with too many similar choices, you walked away overwhelmed and empty-handed? I’m sure we all have.

Here’s the thing: There will always be a plethora of products with similarities. But it's the primary job of marketers to successfully differentiate their offerings from everybody else’s in the marketplace by focusing on what is unique about them.

Then, why is it so difficult for consumers to be able to discern one brand from another? It’s an important question. One that goes to the heart of marketing. These days, it’s own it (retail shelf and category) or lose it.

When considering bringing a new brand to market, especially one that is more complex, a marketer has the task of communicating the core assets of that brand as clearly and simply as possible. Yet, many err on the side of trying to say too much, muddying the waters and putting customers off in the process. Basically, they complicate rather than illuminate and confuse rather than clarify.

Not so with Danone’s Activia. (Danone is known as Dannon in the United States.) The brand-marketing campaign and unique packaging communicate the central aspect of the brand simply and masterfully. Activia is what I refer to as a brand that gets “ownable creative.” Every marketing aspect of Activia is unique and “ownable” thanks to a strong creative strategy—from signature brand color to graphics to messaging. When brands put an ownable strategy in place, they’re generally category leaders.

Activia is all about “regulating the digestive system” with a yogurt fortified with bifidus regularis™. Simple statements convincingly delivered by people who have experienced a variety of digestive system problems and make the premise of the product clear and easy to understand in brand advertising.

Activia has become a huge seller because the marketing campaign and packaging deliver its message seamlessly. The product packaging in signature dark green with strong visual communicates the brand message in a unique manner, making a complex idea simple to grasp. The graphic outlining the torso with visible “belly button” and arrow pointing downward gets the point across. It’s a winner.

Even though category competitors have similar products, Dannon has managed to sell Activia as the “go to” brand with early adopters and many more consumers as time goes on. This is at a time when many consumers are adopting healthier eating habits and supplementation, eagerly scouring the market for better choices.

And how about the Activia challenge for the skeptics out there? “Activia is shown in several clinical studies to help with slow intestinal transit when eaten every day for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.”

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

• What do you think of the marketing for Activia? Have you tried the product due to the marketing and packaging strategy?
• Which other brands do you think have an ownable creative strategy in place?

Marketers, designers and consumers: Please weigh in with your comments!

Continue reading "Illuminate Rather Than Complicate" ... Read the full article

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Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (, a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.