A visit to any mainstream retailer demonstrates just how crowded every product category has become and how, now more the ever, impactful and effective packaging design can enable a brand to win against its competitors.
One of my key abilities is being able to place myself in the position of a consumer and to evaluate potential brand identities and designs during the formulation stages – carefully analysing each element of the communication as a consumer would see them in real time.
Here are the elements that I consider to ensure that brands and packaging designs are optimised for success.
- Overall Visual Appeal
Both the brand and packaging design should be visually differentiated and eye-catching to stand out from competitors on the shelves. The use of brand-owned colourways, fonts, patterns, illustrations and imagery all play a role as components within a unique visual shorthand. This aids ease of recognition and contributes to a positive first impression that can resonate with the target audience.
- Shelf Impact
Since consumers make purchasing decisions quickly, the design needs to grab their attention within seconds. Bold, uncluttered, impactful designs score higher in benchmark tests than recessive designs, me-too packaging solutions and those over-loaded with front of pack messaging.
- Target Audience Understanding
To attract your audience, it’s vital to forensically understand their preferences, needs, values, beliefs and lifestyles. By doing so, packaging design can be tailored to resonate with the target demographic, appropriately considering factors such as age, gender, cultural background and general purchasing behaviour.
- Clear Communication
Effective packaging communicates essential information clearly and concisely and in the English-speaking western world this should be presented top to bottom and left to right.
It should include the product name, description, features, benefits, usage instructions, ingredients, nutritional information, and any certifications or awards. Transparent and informative packaging builds trust and credibility with consumers. But don’t be tempted to try and present everything on the front of pack. Think carefully about which elements are going to clearly say ‘hello’ to the consumer and engage them so that they want to find out more.
- Differentiation and Unique Selling Points
Highlight the unique selling points (USPs) and benefits of the product – and importantly what makes it different, not the same. Whether it’s emphasising superior quality, convenience, innovative features or eco-friendly materials can all showcase what sets the product apart and can help attract the target audience. And remember, product benefits are perceived at first time of purchase so it’s worth carefully considering every single word to ensure the overall communication is as powerful as possible.
- Emotional Appeal
Brands and packaging which evoke emotions and creates a sense of desire or aspiration repeatedly score higher in benchmark research tests than those that don’t. Storytelling, tone of voice, evocative imagery and using design elements that resonate with the target audience’s desires, aspirations or values all work towards creating powerful, visual engagement.
- Cultural Relevance and Localisation
Another important aspect is the consideration of cultural differences and local contexts. Semiotics can help here in understanding the cultural significance of symbols and signs in different regions or markets. By adapting packaging elements to align with local cultural codes, packaging can resonate more strongly with the target audience and enhance brand acceptance. By aligning with cultural codes and semiotic conventions, packaging can create a positive perception, generate interest, and facilitate easier comprehension of the product.
- Packaging Functionality
Convenience and functionality are crucial factors that attract consumers. Packaging that is easy to open, use, and store can enhance the overall user experience and create a positive perception of the product.
With increasing consumer awareness and concern for the environment, eco-friendly and sustainable packaging designs are gaining traction. Packaging that demonstrates sustainable practices, such as using recycled materials or being easily recyclable, appeals to the increasing numbers of environmentally conscious consumers.
- Interactive Elements
Including interactive elements, coupons or ‘playful’ features into the packaging can engage consumers and encourage them to interact with the product. Intelligent structural solutions can play a big part here as an unusual or engaging tactile experience can generate curiosity and increase the likelihood of product acceptance and purchase.