Twist tops on toothpaste. (A blog about brand experience).

By Ed Bowler
January 2020

I’d never admonish those that like a good screw (sorry). I can even imagine one or two benefits. They’re just not for me. But that’s not the point of this blog. Because this is about brand experience.

I once watched a cool talk called ‘building your brand - in a billion simple steps’. Or something like that. And as you can probably tell from the title, it cleverly and correctly explained how branding is usually about lots and lots (and lots) of little things. On their own they don’t mean much. But added together they make something important.

Most people get the big stuff about right. Because we’ve all learned from each other’s mistakes. So the biggest difference is often in those little details. That’s the competitive battleground. And when it comes to our minty-fresh friend, the brand experience has the rare privilege of starting and ending our day. For billions of people.

The reasoning behind my flip cap favouritism isn’t particularly important. So forget the fact that flip caps are infinitely more convenient, eradicate both lid dropping and juggling, whilst reducing lidless paste dehydration by 64%. (Yes. That’s a made-up stat). Let’s also look beyond the unnecessary strain placed on a world of relationships, and the fact that 12% of global marital breakdowns start with recurring disagreements regarding toothpaste etiquette. (Yes. Also made-up for effect).

The bit that I don’t appreciate or understand is the unnecessary element of surprise. And the fact that we buy the toothpaste shrouded in angst and uncertainty not knowing what cap design will emerge from the glossy blue box. Twist top or flip cap? It’s like a fluoride filled Russian roulette.

Surely this is an important part of their product design? Surely this is important to the customer experience? But we’re clueless. They don’t tell us. They don’t care. Why the hell not?

I’m not the kind of person that’s going to start tearing into the packaging in Tesco. And if there’s a sign or message on the box then I’m yet to find it.

We get told our bread is sliced. Our grapes are seedless. The olives have pimento inside (and I still don’t know what it is). Even bin bags are presented in an array of handle options. Yet the humble toothpaste continues to get away with a complete lack of care and clarity. [email protected]

All it takes is a little icon or something. And it could just become one of those tiny little details that can help a brand stand out in a world (aisle) where everyone seems the same.

You’ve probably already decided this blog makes me sound irrational and petty. And you’re probably correct. But you’ve read this far, so I’ll finish with a flourish.

Because there is a serious and important point here. In a competitive and homogenous market place, the difference really is in those details. And they’re often hiding in plain sight. I promise they can make your brand better. So find them. Embrace every tiny opportunity. And make those details great.