I was recently asked by a client “When should we start thinking about a redesign for our packs?”
I replied “Is the design 5 years old?”. Roughly 5 years is a good benchmark to indicate when your packaging is in need of some TLC. There are quite a few factors at play which is why I think 5 years is the perfect time for a facelift.
A relatively obvious factor is movement within companies. When a Creative Director starts work in a new design agency the first thing they normally want to get their hands on is the agency’s own identity. It’s the same when a Marketing Manager/Director starts or gets promoted. It’s the proverbial cocking one leg up, we all want to leave our mark somehow. I’d say after 5 years there’s been quite a bit of movement internally within companies and this could signal a time to to change.
Another is your competition has caught up to you. In 5 years there will have been a lot of changes on the shelves too. If your competition has rebranded and refreshed recently, this often causes your packaging to look redundant – making it more apparent a facelift is well overdue. A few years ago I designed a range of muesli packaging. At the time the client wanted to push boundaries in order to do something quite revolutionary, which is fantastic for a designer to work on. Since then, the whole muesli aisle has changed drastically with a number of new “game changing” smaller competitors starting to enter the shelves. It really depends on which shelf you are occupying in the supermarket in terms of aesthetics. For example the juice, soup and muesli aisles have changed more than the washing powder aisle.
Is your message still the same? Brands are like people – whilst their core beliefs may stay the same, the healthiest brands will evolve, grow and take heed of the trends relevant to them. A lot of the more successful brands in the UK retain their brand positioning while modernising every few years to stay relevant. Hovis, Oxo and Lyons cakes are some brands that do this well. Their packs are still steeped in heritage, yet often they declutter themselves to stand proud and iconic with a single-minded message. What may have been your strongest marketing message a few years ago might not necessarily be the case now. It might be time to readdress.
A common factor is that your target market has moved on. We’re a fickle bunch and are like cats gravitating towards shiny objects, even the most loyal fan can’t help but look twice at that newly designed soup can with silver foil typography. It sounds obvious but sometimes you just need a damn good makeover.
You’re being copied! We do say “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”, however in this case when there is a serious risk of consumers picking up the wrong one by mistake it’s time for your pack to punch above its weight and stand for something new. Leave the copy-cats behind and reinvent!
A pretty unsavoury factor is that sales are plummeting. It’s normally not a good idea to wait until then to redesign – we’re not miracle workers! It’s easy to point the finger at a newly designed pack accusing it of the down turn when in reality the products were in decline already. We’ve worked on refreshing No.1 brands in their category, to ensure their top spots are safe. The refresh sometimes consists of an overhaul – getting rid of unwanted clutter, tightening up claims and pack information, whilst maintaining the brand essence.
“In the absence of any other marketing messages, our packaging – comprised of the trademark, our design, colour and information – is the sole communicator of our brand essence. Put another way – when you don’t have anything else – our packaging is our marketing.” – Philip Morris
If you’re seeing other brands and wishing they were yours, if you feel like you’re not reaching your full potential and if you’re not in love with your own brand then maybe it’s time for that facelift!