Packaging Design: How It Can Make or Break Your Brand
In a fast-paced and highly competitive world, packaging design has become one of the most crucial elements for communicating your brand and standing out from the competition. Your brand might be the best in its category, but without packaging that grabs your target audience, customers won’t investigate your product to find out more or see what’s inside. In fact research shows that you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer and close the sale!
What Are The Characteristics of Highly Effective Brand Packaging?
What goes into a fantastic package design? The best packaging engages customers at a multi-sensory level that includes a visual and tactile experience of your brand which communicates your brand promise and evokes a memorable, emotional response.
Successful packaging is a combination of powerful shelf impact or standout and a strong visual aesthetic, coupled with other triggers such as additional sensory memorability through its feel, sound, or sometimes smell and taste too.
Effective packaging design should deliver the following:
- An immediate sense of your brand story, promise and core values i.e. ‘What your brand stands for?’ also known as its Brand DNA, Brand Essence or Genetic Code etc.
- Trigger a positive emotional response through design simplicity, elegance, a sense of fun, mischief, healthiness, honest natural nourishment or whatever sensory experience is appropriate to your brand and what it represents
- Have a clear, strong call to action with a really significant and compelling point of difference to every other competitor in its category i.e. an incomparable selling proposition backed up with reasons to believe this proposition (note: this must be authentic and honest)
- Reflect your brand’s primary characterizations and personality whether your products offer luxury, security, environmental awareness, corporate social responsibility, reliability, tradition, or pure unadulterated pleasure etc.
- Use impactful brand visuals and verbal differentiation that separates your products from competitors on retail shelves or displays, through irresistibly strong brand design that hooks your core target audience immediately
Elements to Consider in Winning Package Design
Successful branding through packaging design requires more than just reproducing your brand collateral on the container your products come in. Multiple factors must be considered to create a coherent and unified design that conveys your brand message, separates you from the competition, and makes your brand instantly recognizable. Some of these factors include the following:
Your brands colours should be integrated with your package design in order to maintain brand continuity. Successful FMCG brands make use of carefully chosen colour palettes and colour coding to differentiate their product lines and expedite choice for customers who are often brand or category conditioned by colour application. Colour psychology has a huge bearing on attracting customer attention, pick up and conversion, particularly in the visually chaotic environment of retail.
As an iconic representation of your brand, your logo should feature prominently in your packaging design to preserve and promote your brand identity and ensure customer recognition and trust transfer. Conversely if you brand is an iconic one like McDonalds, Marmite or Heinz than your logo on pack may be a less significant requirement because the rest of your brand messaging is so powerful and highly recognizable as an embodiment of the brand the logo is no longer always necessary.
Image via www.selfridges.com
You may have a single strong tag line e.g. Uncle Ben’s Rice – Never Sticks, or multiple tag lines to represent different product lines. Strategic integration of your tag line on your brand packaging can help reinforce your brand messaging and amplify your brand promise.
The shape of your packaging is a vital consideration. Distinctive or iconic packaging shape designs, such as Coca-Cola’s contoured bottle or Johnny Cupcake’s paint can T-shirt containers, can be powerfully effective as brand assets with instant recognition value which over rides everything else. In fact structural shapes when done well can become valuable intellectual property assets in themselves.
Other elements that may be considered in your package design include the materials used, the way the package is opened, the unique rituals around its use or consumption with text to support this message, the on pack messaging and text, and any visual or tactile aspect that will affect a customer’s experience with your product. Each of your package elements should work together to create a cohesive and fully engaging branded experience.
The following are some examples of brands that got their packaging right—and one that failed to communicate its brand promise, with damaging results.
Vivid Water: Differentiation Through Environmental Awareness
Environmental responsibility is a strong selling point for many modern customers. Few products are more environmental than water – a product that generally comes in non-eco-friendly and relatively unhealthy plastic bottles. In 2013, Vivid Water introduced Water In A Box, the first Tetra Pak carton-packaged water product in the UK.
Image via www.waterinabox.co.uk
Every part of the package design for Water In A Box reinforces the simplicity, purity, and responsibility of the brand, from the clean and uncluttered visual design to the instantly recognized water drop icon. The packaging is made with renewable, responsibly sourced paperboard, and unlike plastic competitors, contains no PET.
Water In A Box packaging clearly conveys a brand promise of fresh, pure water that considers environmental impact and promotes health and vitality.
Toscatti: Simplicity and At-a-Glance Convenience
Toscatti offers premium kitchenware with a very distinctive design and unlike most reusable plastic storage containers, Toscatti is made with food-grade stainless steel. The brand is committed to minimizing its planetary footprint while providing the highest quality food-grade stainless steel containers – independently certified to be free of BPA, PVC, phthalates and lead. The durability, high quality, easy to clean, and aesthetically appealing qualities of this premium brand are reflected in its unique packaging system – which helps reinforce and underpin the brands’ promise.
Image via www.toscatti.com
The packaging for this kitchenware product line uses a Pantone™ color scheme, with bright, bold colors to categorize different sizes and capacities of the containers. The minimalist packaging – an easy-to-remove paperboard sleeve, are made memorable with colorful geometric shapes and a rounded typography that appears friendly and approachable.
Image via www.toscatti.com
This packaging, combined with the unique qualities of the product itself, makes Toscatti stand out on shelves, creating instant recognition and very strong visual impact.
Festina: The Proof is in the Packaging
Packaging can make a bold statement about your brand without saying a word. Such is the case with Festina diving watches. This German company’s brand promise is quality and performance – and their highly unique packaging conveys this promise instantly. Festina diving watches are displayed at the point of sale inside clear bags filled with distilled water, unarguably proving that the watches are indeed waterproof.
Image via www.festina.com
The packaging carries only the Festina name and logo, and the brand’s clearly demonstrated promise in a succinct tag line: “engineered for water.” This innovative packaging makes a powerful statement about the quality of the Festina brand while winning high recognition value coupled with instant customer loyalty.
Tropicana: Fixing What Isn’t Broken
When considering a new package design, rebranding strategy or package redesign, your business can’t afford to ignore your existing brand equity. This was a lesson Tropicana learned the hard way, when a packaging redesign for its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice line resulted in a 20 percent decline in sales over less than two months, dropping roughly $33 million and sending the company rushing to restore the previous packaging.
Image via www.tropicana.com
The Tropicana carton design, with its vibrant straw-sporting orange, had become synonymous with the brand for customers. The redesign replaced this iconic image with a juice glass featuring weaker colouring, shrank the bold stripe at the top identifying the juice type to a thin strip, and replaced the conversational product titles No Pulp, Some Pulp, and Lots of Pulp with the starker and less interesting Pulp Free, Low Pulp, and High Pulp.
Image via www.tropicana.com
The rebranding was an effort to create a more refined contemporary image for the Tropicana brand, but customers clearly demonstrated they weren’t interested in sophisticated orange juice – and further, the complete and abrupt change suggested the contents of the packaging might have changed.
Whenever we start work on a new brand packaging design project, or even revitalizing an established brand for our clients, all the key ingredients discussed and various methodologies mentioned are automatically integrated into our brand packaging design process everytime – to ensure we achieve the best results for our clients.
Effective package design that reflects your brand profile, brand story and conveys your brand promise collectively helps strengthen your brand, increases customer loyalty, and ultimately supports growing your bottom line.
It’s vitally important that you place as much emphasis and care on your packaging design as you do on your products themselves, to ensure a consistent and memorable brand experience that drives repeat purchase, referability and increased profitability.
What do you think?
• Does your current product packaging design accurately reflect your brands’ promise?
• How can you reflect the best qualities of your product through your packaging design?
• What innovations or brand differentiation does your product packaging convey?
• Is your packaging congruent with your overall brand collateral?
• How recognizable are your packaging designs? Do they strongly stand out on shelf from the competition?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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