In the previous column, we addressed the importance of accurate and complete product claims, especially with disinfectants and other products so important in the COVID-19 discussion.
But it goes beyond providing solid, trustworthy information. It’s also about making the consumer feel safe and comfortable using products. Of paramount importance is giving them peace of mind that quality control is the absolute best it can be – even when the product doesn’t have anything directly to do with disinfecting or other COVID-19-relevant issues. This is a huge part of stellar customer service right now.
Big on this list are my oldies-but-goodies: Spell everything correctly and make the verbiage clear. Write label content that is as cogent and fully educational as possible – with links to more in-depth information wherever possible.
While typos, in particular, seem to be glossed over by much of the public, I’m old school. When I see something misspelled, I immediately wonder if the rest of the quality control process has been as lax. That seed of doubt has caused me to forego purchasing many products because of a lack of confidence. Is what I’m getting truly high quality, or is it as poorly watched as the labels?
Making sure a label is correct in every detail doesn’t take a huge amount of time or effort. It does typically, however, take multiple sets of eyes to check and recheck. The fact that major errors frequently show up on nationally-prominent product labels makes my head spin.
Here are some tips for making labels reflect well on product quality:
1. Give them a fresh look. No matter how often, or even recently, labels have been reviewed, proofed and/or edited, get multiple people to give them a fresh look – even if they’re not “proofing” specialists. As with anything else, looking at something too often can cause “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Things get missed because they’ve been looked at too often. Having new and fresh reviews certainly can’t hurt – and may in fact lead to valuable improvements.
2. Make these new reviews go beyond grammar, spelling, typos. When looking at the basics, also look beyond them. Look at the label concepts, construction, graphics – anything pertinent to the existing label and its interaction with the product. Nothing has ever been created that can’t be improved. This “total review” exercise may prove valuable to product branding, marketing and presentation going forward.
3. Hold a label improvement contest. One way to get more definitive and dramatic label improvement results is to throw open the suggestion vault to the public (or at least the present customer base). This can improve engagement with the product and/or manufacturer, stir some buzz if the contest is interesting or far-flung enough, and prove a valuable way to conduct on-the-fly research about the product itself, as well as branding, marketing, etc. Respondents to a contest are revealing more than their ideas. They’re also imparting preferences and insights to their buying habits. So, a contest can yield multifaceted rewards, and a commitment to holding it is another way of demonstrating manufacturer interest in betterment and quality improvement.
4. Use contest and all other feedback to navigate “new normal” buying habits and attitudes. In some cases, the crisis will have had profound effects on sales and decision-making criteria. Capturing what’s in people’s minds and hearts as a result can go a long way toward future strategies and planning. While this includes label preferences, branding and marketing, it also goes to the heart of what makes a particular product most attractive as the world emerges from the crisis.
For example, anything perceived as “comfort food,” whether a foodstuff or something else connoting that type of comfort (e.g., nostalgic black-and-white movies) may be the ticket to popularity in a post-COVID crisis world. Comfort zones have been decimated in many areas. Previous clamoring for “flash” and “pizzazz” may give way to wanting stable, believable, simple basics. As attitudes evolve around this new normal, paying close attention to improving everything, from labels to the product itself, merits consideration.
5. Reprioritize label, marketing keywords and prominence. Sitting in front of me is a hand sanitizer product where the words “Aloe Vera” are most prominent on the label. Obviously, COVID-19 has turned that emphasis upside down. Reviewing the label now, it seems that the most prominent mention should be the words, “Hand Sanitizer” followed by “Ethyl Alcohol 70%” (currently listed on the back in small type as an ingredient). And, current reference to “Kills 99.99% of Germs” needs to incorporate specific action involving COVID-19, if appropriate.
Now more than ever, one of the best ways to convey consummate customer service is to reassure consumers that products are reliable and high quality. Labels play a key role in that process.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.