We appear to be surrounded by brands and products that are looking and trying very hard to be identified as “crafted.” Staged as a new idea, the irony is brilliant, given that many of these products or brands are actually just a slap-dash, jump-on-the-band-wagon replacement for an actually interesting piece of innovation. Marketers may be trying to tap into consumers’ desire for authenticity, but if it’s not genuine, they risk losing more than just sales.
But, let’s first define: what does craft mean? The dictionary definition: “An art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill.” For my world, the design industry, it has always been a trade as much as an art form. The word implies that time was taken, mistakes made, lessons learned and over many years (and a few grey hairs), a superior product is produced. But I am not sure that matters anymore.
For me, craft = care, but does anyone, anymore?
Our younger consumers cannot even fathom the idea that someone has had the same job for 20 years, crafting to perfection a single idea for others to enjoy. Can they tell the difference? I’m not sure they even care. So has it just become another overused, once beautiful word that will be archived along with storytelling, branding, organic, and disruptive?
If there is a risk that crafted is just another marketing rabbit hole to trip into, how can we create a quality brand or product, avoid the fall, and build real differentiation?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Be honest
Tell the truth about your brand and product in a direct way. Say what you mean and like what you say. For Walkers Crisps Deep Ridged brand (Ridges Twice as Deep), the simple color on a black and white image of a mountain says it all — simple, bold, concise, with a design that has been extended over multiple countries.
2. Really Use Your Words
Less is not always more. Why do we agonize over trying to imply the positioning when we could just put it on the package? Words are beautiful … and we have lots of them. Let's use them. Dr. Feelgood Frozen Pops does this well, combining lovely writing with delightful typography to describe the brief to consumers.
3. Create Product Packaging That Will Last
Don’t let the latest trends in visualization and communication sway you from your mission. Look at the powerful simplicity of Tropicana’s Orange and Straw icon; it offers timeless visualization about the product truth.
We naturally lean into movements like craft and artisanal because we crave a little sensibility in these tempestuous times we live in. But it is our responsibility to our brands to have integrity.
Be brave. Be honest. Stand out.