Sunday, September 23, 2007

What's hip is the flask

At this weeks psfk conference in LA, Adam Gaynor presented a case study about his recently born baby, Fred. It’s a new brand of water still in its infancy but which will be growing rapidly thanks to a new round of financing.

The idea of Fred is simple and compelling. Most water brands romance the source and extol the purity, taste and minerals of the water that comes from it. Adam's shrewd assessment was that there's room in the market for a brand positioned and differentiated on personality alone – one that’s friendly, inviting, a little cheeky and relaxed.

It’s certainly a novel idea in the water category but in the marketing world it’s not new. Many categories have products which have successfully used attitude and personality as the basis for the brand when little functional difference from competitors. Ted for example – launched by United Airlines before Song, Jet Blue or Virgin existed – was really no different in pricing and product offering than Southwest but had a unique brand personality of friendliness, openness, simplicity and fun in the category.

With Fred, the packaging is the most tangible aspect that supports this 'water with a different point of view'. Against a clutter of rounded bottles that fit ably only in cup holders, Fred stands apart. The brand’s relaxed, laid back persona is reflected in how easily it slips into a jacket pocket or back pocket, and even how comfortable it feels in the hand.

One part of this brand’s distinctive visual identity that’s hard to overlook even though it wasn’t mentioned in the presentation is an alcohol cue. The bottle has a hip flask shape immediately recalling the smaller sized package that spirits are sold in. The further reference to “velvety-smooth” spring water on the reverse side suggests the association to liquor is not an accident. It will no doubt only add to the appeal of brand coming to a grocery store near you soon.

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