Using Analogs and Antilogs to determine the viability of your brand or packaging design

by | Nov 1, 2018 | Branding with impact, Strategically thinking through the design process

How can Brand marketers use Analogs and Antilogs to determine the viability of their brands or packaging designs?

Getting to plan B

Authors of “Getting to Plan B – Breaking Through to a Better Business Model“, Randy Komisar and John Mullins, ( a popular book for entrepreneurs) introduced us to the concepts of Analogs and Anti-logs and how to use them to determine the viability of a business.

This article is about applying the concepts of Analogs and Anti-logs in the development and creation of brands and more specifically to packaging designs.

Nothing is unique or truly inventive, the trick is finding the worn path that will allow your venture to dig in its heels. they can make the dog jump, [entrepreneurs] somehow assume that everyone wants a jumping dog” Randy Komisar.

Does your product solve a problem?

A core question of Getting to Plan B and one that sophisticated and experienced designers will always ask is: What is the problem? What problem are you trying to solve here?

BTW A problem could also be a customer delight. maybe something that is so terrific that consumers just want to use it, Interesting to note that the bigger the problem being solved, the better to create a solution.

The key is to use the principles of Analogs and Antilogs research to answer the question and thereby determine the viability of your packaging designs or brand design?

Example: Coconut oil: What problem does coconut oil solve? (See 11 different  solutions here)

There are numerous studies constantly being done to prove natural coconut oil as a natural healer. Regular intake of coconut oil will give consumers health benefits that they may be lacking in their regular diet as a result of the unique fatty acids, protein, copper, and vitamin C of coconut milk.

How many of the average consumers would know about these health benefits. How could they discover them? Through the packaging design, of course!

Question 2: Is it Unique?

The second question asked by the authors of the book and what most Brand Marketers tend to often skip over is…Now that we have the problem to be solved, what is the solution the consumer would be willing to pay for? Is it a defensible solution? Is it something unique in the market place?

Example: Coconut oil: What is the coconut oil solution?

Did you know that coconut oil can ease both you your pet’s digestion problems ? If your dog is eating grass, this often is a telltale sign they have a stomach upset. Bring coconut oil to the rescue!

Question 3: Can your assumptions be validated?

Now, according to the book, Getting to Plan B, a third question needs to be asked… “What’s currently going on in the market place and what are the analogs and antilogs of the product and or the packaging?

The answers to these questions will help Brand marketers and designers remove assumptions and on aggregate provide the way forward. It will provide you and your key stake holders with the confidence that the product and the packaging design will work before investing huge time and resources..

Understanding the analogs and antilogs of the product and or the packaging and the market, places the emphasis on the initial research and de-emphasizes “business planning.” Why because the best business plans aren’t worth the paper they have been printed on if the “assumptions ” are faulty.

So what are the analogs and anti-logs of the product and or the packaging?

Analogs: Look at those things that are similar that have worked in the past both for you and for others.

Antilogs are looking at those things that had failed in the past,

The example quoted in the book which makes the concept easy to grasp is:The Ipod.

The iPod at the time was revolutionary. The revolution was in how we bought music and listened to it, but yet still, not completely new. Apple had learning’s from both the Walkman from Napster and other MP3 units available at the time.

How deep should the Analogs and Antilogs go?

So how wide does one cast the net to find relevant and good analogs and anti-logs? So for example, does one stay within a category? Or can one look at other industries, main competitors, international competition and even fringe competitors?

As a Brand marketer you want to investigate as far as you need to, to reach a degree of confidence. Fundamentally, whenever you’re making a business decision, it’s kind of like, “Do I believe this product/packaging will work?

Think of it from the framework of making a $50,000 investment of your own money in the product.

  • Would I invest in this product as an outside investor?
  • If this was my business: “Would I put my time and energy into it?
  • Do I pursue this direction?
  • Does this product/pack have the deck stacked in its favour?
  • Does it have an advantage that’s likely to make it successful?
  • Where does this product/pack have an advantage or does it have a disadvantage?

It matters less that the competitors is 40% and yours is 60% versus say a 62% advantage. Rather, what matters more is that it’s like roughly 1.5 times, which is a big discrepancy.

In the end one is really making a judgment about one’s confidence as to whether or not this product/pack will this be successful. So what one needs to be looking for is, where the pieces of information, the analogs, the antilogs, are?

Using Analogs and Antilogs to determine viability – TESLA example

Here’s an outside example, which is not complete, but it helps to illustrates the analog, antilog thinking:

Tesla came onto the scene competing with major car companies, right?  They had to develop new battery technology, they had to invest in marketing because a lot of people at the time were pretty skeptical about electric cars. Tesla had all of these challenges so they needed a business model that offsets that.

So here are two ways interesting in which TESLA differentiated itself from most other car companies. ( there’s lots more but these are just two examples)

  1. When Tesla first started – they only had one model of car. This meant their whole operation could be optimised around the production of just that car. Whereas most car companies have a whole bunch of different lines. This meant their cost of production was a whole lot less than their competitors because they  only optimised for one thing.
  2. Tesla only sell luxury cars. Luxury cars typically mean a lot more revenue, which means a much fatter margins, which is what allows them to fund all the other things that they’re doing.

So…Whilst we don’t know the precise numbers, the fact is the precise numbers don’t matter. What really matters is…”DO THEY HAVE AN ADVANTAGE IN THIS AREA OR NOT?”

Great if you can get access to real numbers as it will help check and support your thinking and makes sure you’re on the right track. That said as a Brand marketer we need to think less like an accountant and vacillating and wondering if the numbers are 60% or 62%. Rather we need to understand how the analog and antilog tell us about our chances for success.

How deep should we be researching our competitors?

Usually companies innovate in one, two, three areas at the most. So whilst one looks at ones competition and their offering,  we don’t need a new comparative example for each product component.

rather we want to assess enough competitors, locally and over seas, so that we feel confident we understand not just how the product/packaging is different from the competitors… But even more importantly “how is what we are creating different from the category as a whole. Now that’s unique. That’s what you’re looking for.

The leap of faith

At some point one has to jump. We have to take a leap of faith, says Randy Komisar. However we must be certain to correctly define it. The key to making a successfully jump is based on the three questions analogs and anti-logs force you to answer.

1. Does your product solve a problem?
2. Is the solution a solution the consumer would be willing to pay for? Is it something unique in the market place?
3. What’s currently going on in the market place and what are the analogs and antilogs of the product and or the packaging?

“The results of these questions will either flatten your idea or ensure you with product success.”