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Shelf Life

Making the leap from the TV screen to the retail aisles is all about your brand image.

Every entrepreneur's dream is to become an overnight success, but what happens if sales explode before your brand image is sharpened?

Before
In January 2002, Wendy Silver made her debut on QVC with her salad-cutting invention, the Toss & Chop. It sold 13,000 units in six minutes. She has since appeared on QVC 10 more times and sold over 90,000 units. Her company, Silvermark, co-founded with husband Michael, was unprepared for the avalanche of orders, inquiries and press attention. They scurried to ramp up production, create a Web site, develop marketing materials and introduce the product through retail channels. Everything was done piecemeal. In mid-2002, the Silvers realized they needed to create a consistent brand image.

During
Selling through QVC, the product had a shipping box, not a market-driven package. The Silvers consulted with Doyle Partners to help determine a brand identity. They concluded that Silvermark stood for longevity and quality. Vivid colors like orange would help with shelf pop, but clash with the company's image. They developed a clear, semi-circular package with a green background that's versatile enough to display either on a shelf or on a pegboard.

The existing Web site proclaimed a message that didn't match the product's sleek image. It told the story of Wendy's rural upbringing in the Midwest and used old recipe cards to portray a warm, homey feel. The Silvers worked with Vis-Com Inc. to launch a revamped site with the same color palette as the retail package. Instead of the folksy image, the new site tells the company's story straightforwardly, starting with Wendy's appearance on QVC.

After
Silvermark's new, unified brand image has enabled the company to forecast unit sales of 400,000 for 2003. Remember: Creating an appropriate image sometimes takes a little brand sharpening.


Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO/chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego, and author of the monthly newsletter Duh! Marketing.

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This article was originally published in the December 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Shelf Life.

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