WD-40 Specialist Line Lands Smoothly



Design: JAM
Location: United States
Project Type: Produced
Client: WD-40
Product Launch Location: United States
Packaging Contents: Lubricant, cleaners and degreasers
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Aluminum

Almost everyone has a can of WD-40® Multi-Use Product on a shelf or in their garage, but few may know the brand traces its origins back almost 70 years. In 1953 the Rocket Chemical Company set its sight on a challenging mission: helping rockets get into space. After 39 tries, scientists created the now iconic WD-40 Multi-Use Product, which would first be used to displace water and propel the Atlas missile into orbit.

And, while the WD-40 Multi-Use Product is a category-leading heritage brand, research indicated that the WD-40 Specialist® line (launched in 2011) of professional-grade lubricants, penetrants, greases, cleaners and degreasers, and rust-management solutions, has an opportunity to be identified on the shelves faster by end users. They turned to JAM (Johnson And McGreevy, Inc.), the New York-based branding agency, to develop a new packaging, clearly differentiate it from the base brand, and simplify messaging.

After a global study of WD-40 Company’s portfolio of products, the JAM team chose to leverage the visual equity of the base brand and ensure that consumers could quickly navigate the shelf.

“We identified two types of buyers: the tradesperson/professional, who knows what they want and shop by variant color, and the prosumer, who needs more information and cues. What did they have in common? All buyers located where to go in the store by the familiar blue and yellow of WD-40 Multi-Use Product,” says Nick McGreevy, founder, JAM.

Every element for the WD-40 Specialist line is new from typefaces, to icons, to a refined WD-40 Brand logo. But color became the critical component of the redesign. “The black body and yellow caps were confusing consumers with the competition, so we elevated the reflex blue from the base products and created a new premium metallic blue that enhances the professional positioning,” says McGreevy. The result is an improved brand block on shelf and a clear differentiation from the base brand as well as from its competition.

Product names were simplified, and bold graphic illustrations denote the main usages for each product. A matte varnish over the silver section of the can enhances the impression of quality and allows for consumers to easily read the benefit copy. A variant bar on the top of the back-panel aids in selection when products are stored vertically in a tool bag.

JAM also designed the creative direction of the new WD-40 Specialist packaging marketing campaign leveraging the history of WD-40 Company.

According to Erin Bala, director of brand management and innovation at WD-40 Company, “This was an extremely effective collaboration. JAM is a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase type of partner. I am extremely proud of what we achieved together.”

There are 36 SKUs in the WD-40 Specialist line ranging in size from 2.5 oz to 55 gallons, and in spray, non-aerosol, grease tubes and bulk containers.