Thursday, October 30, 2008

method to the creative madness: part two

by Sonja Gugajew

Part two + The idea of imbuing the chore of cleaning with a spoonful of sugar was refreshing. Ryan likens Method’s quest to reinvent cleaning to Nike’s inspirational treatment of jogging: both transform traditionally unpleasant “chores” into meaningful consumer experiences. Method strives to create a premium cleaning experience that connects to the emotion and pride with which consumers regard their home. In doing so, Method has transcended the functional language that is predominant in the cleaning industry and realized the increasing importance for a brand to forge long-lasting emotional connections with its consumers. Understanding the psychology and aspirations of the Method consumers was the first step. Figuring out how to motivate them was the second.

What makes Method so appealing to its core audience? The disruptive remarkability that it brings to every aspect of the product experience has a lot to do with it. Method’s design elevates cleaning into an art form; the sensory nature of the products stimulates the imagination via sight and smell. Method’s vase-like packaging offers the elegant design, from the bowling-pin shaped dish soap to the figure-eight shaped laundry bottle to the teardrop shaped hand wash. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, these products do not belong in cupboards or underneath sinks. They are meant to be displayed on kitchen or bathroom countertops where they can complement the personality of a well-groomed home. Method’s design creates value for the brand: it provides a premium experience for the consumer who appreciates the combination of elegant design and day-to-day functionality. In addition, the design becomes an advertising platform in and of itself, a banner of what the brand represents in magazines, on the shelf, or in the home.

The genius behind many of Method’s original designs is Karim Rashid, a preeminent designer with a knack for bringing high-end designs to commodity products such as waste baskets. “The cleaning product industry is very backward, and many of the products have a 1950s language,” Rashid wrote in an e-mail to the San Francisco Chronicle. “They are cluttered with graphics, too much information and complicated ugly forms. My intention was to develop holistic design language for a holistic brand.

Clean, simple, neat, understated, and designed to really perform in our contemporary technological age.” Method now boasts its own in-house team of design talent, a powerhouse of creativity and innovative packaging ideas. The stylish, transparent bottles reveal a variety of luminous colors that add to their sensual experience. The colors match premium fragrances such as lavender lemongrass and grapefruit pear, which are another element of Method’s disruptiveness.

Method’s philosophy: Why should you have to don gloves, masks, and an armament of protection in the act of caring for your home? Why not recreate a spa experience in your bathroom with eucalyptus, mint-scented bathroom products? Method’s philosophy of integrity dictates the products it launches. If Method can’t make a product work with a non-toxic bent, it won’t enter the segment. In 2006 Method’s co-founders were named “Persons of the Year” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in honor of their refusal to test any products on animals. During the same year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inducted Method into its Green Power Leadership Club because of Method’s purchase of enough green energy credits to offset its own energy use and carbon footprint.

Its consumers know that Method is more than good looks and fragrance. They are attracted to its values. And while there are other environmentally friendly cleaners on the market, Method’s all united under one brand with one philosophy. And like consumers who align themselves with any lifestyle brand’s philosophy, Method consumers often seek to care for their homes within the system that Method products offers. They identify themselves with the brand’s values and aspire to a healthy Method lifestyle: modern, upscale, design-oriented, health-conscious and defined by the brand’s slogan, “People Against Dirty.”

The “humanifesto” from Method’s Web site is one example of Method’s hallmark marketing communications strategy: storytelling. Method’s holistic philosophy makes for an interesting story, and people like to hear stories. From its packaging designs to its advertising campaigns, Method communicates its philosophy by regaling its audience with witty anecdotes that make honest, fun and wholesome references to both personal and shared touch points in consumers’ lives.

The same engaging storytelling littered the pages of Method’s People Against Dirty booklet, the result of a $2 million print advertising campaign during the summer of 2005. The 16-page booklet, dropped in magazines such as Real Simple, Organic Style and Lucky, celebrated Method’s natural philosophy through innocent pictures of men and women cleaning in the buff. On one page of the booklet, opposite a picture of a woman and child taking a bubble bath, reads the following Method words of wisdom:

“Where does your home end and you begin? You don’t literally have to answer that. We believe that a home is more than a box: It’s a sort of second skin. It could be a third skin, if you’re counting clothes. Anyway, you wouldn’t spray your skin with something dangerous, but many people clean their tub with harsh chemicals and soak in it shortly thereafter. We’re against that. We develop nontoxic, health alternatives for use around children, pets and you. Method is easy on your home and you, because you’re linked.”

Besides a 10 percent to 15 percent instant lift in sales, the campaign generated a sizeable sales gain and hundreds of phone calls and e-mails. In the summer of 2007, Method launched its biggest advertising campaign to date. The “Detox Your Home” campaign includes print and banner advertisements and a search engine marketing component. With colorful images such as a cherubic baby in a kitchen sink bath and a model of a detoxified home in a Method spray bottle, the new campaign is a call to action for health-conscious homeowners everywhere. And it certainly serves to call attention to Method as well, with carefully provocative but fun images. For example, an entwined pair of legs extending from behind a wall and a mop is captioned, “Make floor love, not floor war.” Likewise, a spray bottle of Method cleaner wrapped in a wrinkled brown bag is captioned, “Lay off the hard stuff.”


part three: tomorrow! (PS - I've updated the method humanifesto, as the original link I had way back in March of this year no longer exists. You can find the updated post above this article.)

1 comment:

Karin said...

Ha, ha...that's naked Josh! Sexy naked Josh! And to think, I had classes with him in college! :)

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