ORLANDO, FL: Sherwin-Williams, the paint brand, has yielded major benefits by looking at "painting" rather than only thinking about its products – and believes other marketers may also gain from a "focus on the '-ing'".

Ellen Moreau, SVP of Marketing Communications Americas Group at Sherwin-Williams, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Masters of Marketing Conference.

And she reported that marketers could generate a whole new range of insights – and prospective activations – by viewing their products less as functional items, and more as tools connected with consumer empowerment.

"So, it's not just a car; it's driving. It's not just soap you're selling; it's cleaning. And, in our case, it's not just paint we're selling; it's painting," Moreau said. (For more, including further strategic details, read Warc's exclusive report: How Sherwin-Williams paints a vivid, active brand picture.)

This approach does not negate the advantages certain products can provide, but helps frame them in a wider context. "You want to look at, certainly, the product that you sell. But it's a bigger message than that," Moreau said.

"The customer is looking for deeper connections with your brand, and they want you to understand everything that goes into their world that has to do with that. So, if you can look at that customer connection, and really look at the '-ing', I think that's one of our keys to success."

As an example of its own activity in this space, Sherwin-Williams was an early adopter of mobile apps, introducing its ColorSnap tool, which aids consumers in identifying exactly the right paint shade for them, in 2009.

Over time, this offering has been enhanced to reflect consumer needs, whether that involves adding features to help find their chosen paint in-store or integrating it with a Pinterest API.

Such innovations do draw on fresh advances in technology. But, more importantly, they solve some of the main roadblocks on the path to painting.

"A lot of the painting challenges, at the beginning of things, were where we were trying to make sure things went a little faster," Moreau said.

"People were getting hung up on the color-decision process before they even got to the other stuff. So making that easier has been one [important] thing."

Data sourced from Warc