Sunday, March 9, 2008

NXT: What is the brand saying?

Communicating a brand is trickier than it appears. When it's done right it looks easy, but the path to establishing a new brand is riddled with potholes. A brand can try to say one thing and end up saying something else entirely. Even when the brand is speaking clearly, the message can be interpreted in different ways by different people with different experiences and values.

Take NXT, a new brand of shaving gel about to hit store shelves with a unique, attention-grabbing twist--the bottle contains LEDs that cause the product to glow. In addition to catching the eye, the illuminated blue gel looks masculine, high-tech, hip, and ready for the club--all qualities that will appeal to the target market of fashion-conscious males.

On the one hand, I find this an interesting way for a product to cut through the noise and get some attention on the shelf. The brand (claims it) is spending $0 on advertising because it thinks the lighted product will sell itself. Rather than focusing on expensive traditional media, NXT figures it can gain all the awareness it needs with its unique packaging.

But on the other hand, to a generation raised with great awareness of global environment and green issues, this brand may stick out for all the wrong reasons. The packaging is quite wasteful--each glowing container requires two or three AAA batteries that will get disposed of by the thousand (million?) and collect in landfills. With so many brands striving to go "green," will NXT get rejected by consumers as being wasteful?

To some, the glowing container will represent something new and innovative, but to others it will represent consumerist waste. One presumes NXT did its homework and tested consumer perception of the packaging, but it will be interesting to see if the product becomes a nightlight in numerous homes or whether it rots on shelves, darkened by consumer rejection and dying batteries.

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