-Martha Engel, Attorney

Marketing has always been an exercise in getting consumers to make a connection with a brand.  As our friend Seth Godin once said “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but the story that you tell.”   With the widespread use of social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, those stories are getting more and more personal — and so is the packaging now.

There was the #ShareACoke campaign, with Coke cans with first names or words like “Soulmate” for you to share with a friend, family member, colleague, or stranger.   After launching this campaign, Coca-Cola says that they received about a 2% bump in sales.

Then recently Bud Light introduced cans for each of the NFL teams as part of its #MyTeamCan (a social media hashtag that seems like it could go awry any given Sunday).  Would a Bears, Vikings, or Packers colored can inspire you to buy Bud Light over Miller Light or Coors Light?  Are we going to see fantasy football team inspired packaging?

Another example is Snickers re-packaging as part of its #EatASnickers campaign.  Does anyone else wish that they made a “Hangry” one?


Contrary to the Coke and Bud examples, Snickers appears to scrub any reference to its registered mark SNICKERS and relies solely on its trade dress — the brown background with the white parallelogram with a red border and blue lettering.  Based on a brief search of the U.S. Trademark Office records, no filing has been made to protect this trade dress, importantly without the SNICKERS name.  Someone please call the logo police.

Two years ago, I wrote about a potential  trend towards de-branding packaging, but we certainly didn’t see the “silent” branding take off.  Perhaps this personalized trend and its accompanying social media is its “loud” branding antithesis.

What do you think about this trend toward personalized products, from either a branding perspective or a supply chain management perspective?  Is personalized branding just a hot trend thanks to the popularity of Instagram and Twitter?  Of the three strategies mentioned in here, which do you think works best (for me its the Coke one)?