Balancing brand cues with on-shelf standout
As consumers, packaging is something which we tend to take for granted. It protects and delivers the product we are purchasing, at times we keep it long enough to dispense the product and ensure its freshness.
Yet it can also be a brand’s biggest investment. Certainly it is one of a brand’s most consistent salesmen, which is why designing packaging goes way beyond creating a protective outer casing. What we aim to create are design signals that trigger relevant associations in the consumer’s mind, so that whilst the pack does its day to day job of protecting and delivering, it is also communicating with the consumer.
So what exactly do these design signals do? For a start they are needed to define the category and the actual product benefits, although this only gets the product as far as being recognised and considered.
What we tap into with clever design are subconscious and emotional drivers. This is what marks the differences between true brands and mere products.
Packaging can do an amazing job of sealing the deal, by creating strong associations to something deep in our emotional memory. There are whole sets of codes for each category from confectionery to detergents which are subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, representations of a category.
The current trend right now for pretty much every category from beer to coffee and chocolate to yoghurt is for brands to present a crafted, authentic feel. Heritage denotes value. In time this will change.
Game changers such as Innocent, that introduce fresh new ways of brand communication through fun and engaging messages, are few and far between yet when they come along they can disrupt the way packaging engages with its consumers across numerous categories.
One thing is for sure, it takes a brave brand to step out of current design cues and try something new. Changing a classic is not always a successful move.
However, done properly, a few, carefully calculated shifts can transform an invisible brand to a shelf superstar - keeping the balance between existing brand cues and achieving standout is something which design teams are regularly juggling.