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michael

Michael Keplinger

Partner & Director of Testing and Insights, SmashBrand

BioBio

Michael is a partner and the Director of Testing and Insights at SmashBrand, where he spearheads SmashBrand's Path to Performance™ process, a proven, data-driven framework designed to put high-performing consumer packaged goods on the retail shelf. In this role, he believes that packaging acts as a product's "front door", and is almost entirely responsible for shaping how consumers perceive and engage with the brand, ultimately determining whether they will buy the product or a competitor. Thus, he defines the testing methodologies SmashBrand uses to optimize packaging designs to align with the brand's strategic vision, ensuring aesthetic appeal and market viability.

With an educational background and an early career in computer engineering, he transitioned into the entrepreneurial space, launching and owning CPG brands and quickly discovering a knack for innovative market strategies. At SmashBrand, Michael leverages this expertise to lead the research team, focusing on a holistic, data-driven approach to market research, product design, and consumer testing. His philosophy centers on the importance of understanding consumer perceptions, a viewpoint he considers vital for the success of any consumer product.

At the core of Michael's approach is an iterative cycle of specific consumer testing and integrating the insights gained directly into the creative process, leading to optimized and high-performing packaging. This commitment to a data-driven strategy ensures that the packaging designs and branding strategies SmashBrand develops are not just based on aesthetic or conceptual appeal but are proven to resonate with consumers. Over the past decade, he has integrated an agile methodology and a proven platform for consumer testing into SmashBrand's entire operational framework, solidifying the agency's reputation for guaranteeing market performance.

With a unique blend of technical skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and consumer insight, Michael Keplinger offers a multidimensional approach to brand development. His ability to connect seemingly unrelated elements for innovation and his commitment to consumer-centric optimization makes him an invaluable asset to SmashBrand and its clientele. Under his leadership, brands don't just imagine the potential success of their consumer products—they experience it.

To book Michael for speaking engagements and podcast appearances, please email
[email protected]

Recent Podcasts

Market and Product Research, Product Design, and Brand Awareness

Market and Product Research, Product Design, and Brand Awareness

How to Create the Best Packaging Design

How to Create the Best Packaging Design

Consumer-Based, Research Driven Packaging Design Strategy

Consumer-Based, Research Driven Packaging Design Strategy

Articles by Michael Keplinger

How To Create The Perfect Brand Value Proposition.

A value proposition is a simple, precise phrase to convey an essential benefit (or value) of buying from your brand. Your company may have one primary value proposition, or you may have many across your different product lines. Regardless of the number, it’s a slogan meant to appeal to a specific subset of customers and […]

Boomer, Meet Zoomer: Packaging Design for Generation Z.

Generation Z (cheekily referred to as “Zoomers”) is a demographic of consumers born in or after 1997, putting the age range of Gen Z’ers between 0 and 23. When you hear someone grumbling about “kids these days,” you can at this point they’re referring to Gen Z. But what makes this demographic so different from Millennials or […]

Branding vs. Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Working through your brand strategy inevitably raises the question of whether we should invest in branding or more tactical conversion-driven forms of marketing. Building a brand identity while seeing a return on investment can be confusing and overwhelming. This article resolves the branding vs. marketing debate, helping CEOs, marketers, and content strategists align and work […]

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With This Guide To Candy Packaging Design.

Who doesn’t love candy? Even for the health conscious consumer, there’s at least one candy where desire is too strong of a match for their willpower. But if everybody loves candy, why is it so hard to break through the candy industry and rake in the cash? Many brands make it on the local level […]

Is Brand Differentiation Possible In a Crowded Market?

We’re all familiar with brand differentiation as a concept. It’s an idea that applies to many aspects of your business, from how you position yourself to your target market to the products you sell. There are plenty of marketing philosophies around the idea, including those like the Blue Ocean Strategy.  For those unfamiliar with it, […]

Consumer Testing, Brand Strategy, and Messaging.

Launching a new brand or rebranding can be risky. How can you be sure that consumers will like the “new you” or whether it’ll end up driving people away? Some businesses have lost hundreds of millions of dollars on ill-advised rebranding decisions. Consumer testing is an important part of any brand strategy. You need to […]