06 December, 2017
Packaging can play a more important role than just keeping your baked beans fresh, it can contribute to an increase in sales and build your brand’s image as well as improving the functionality and use of the product. It all comes down to defining your business goals and maximising exactly what this piece of packaging needs to achieve. Before designers can even start thinking about sketching concepts, there’s some fundamentals we need to get right first.
Getting your story straight
From early childhood you’ve had stories read to you and as adults we’re still as thirsty for meaningful, rich stories that take us on journeys. Packaging is often the first time consumers encounter a brand so it should really be looking its best and projecting the right message. Getting your brand story right is crucial so the packaging can reflect your core values. Consumers aren’t just buying a tin of diced tomatoes, they are buying into a brand’s heritage and story. Those tomatoes have been ripened under the Tuscan sun, on land that has been handed down from generation to generation since 1860. If there’s a story there, tell it!
Gone are the days of over mass-produced products from huge corporations. Today’s audiences are searching out brands and products that they can connect with at an emotional level. It’s much more powerful to hear an authentic story from actual humans.
What is your audience “into”?
The blogs your audience reads, cars they drive, programs they stream and more can unearth a rich tapestry of design aesthetics we can draw inspiration from. For example, lets take a 20 year old health-conscious millennial named Rebecca who frequents her local pilates studio and follows Nourishing by Sally Robbie on instagram. The super healthy Kombucha drink we’re designing needs to slot into her world very comfortably and effectively sit next to the other brands she purchases. It needs to speak the same language, both visually and verbally in order to draw someone of her demographic in.
As a designer, I think this is probably one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of my job. I find it fascinating to delve into different audience mindsets when I’m designing anything from flavoured milk for teenagers to healthy heart muesli for an older market. It’s great to be someone else every now and then!
Keeping it simple
One of my most memorable pieces of packaging was a pregnancy test kit for Superdrug in the UK. It’s become a bit of a design classic. The ‘P’ for pregnancy in the logo was designed as a question mark as well… get it? It was a strong single-minded, simple idea. Even after 20 years it’s still a project that has stuck in my mind. Another example is in 2009 when Tropicana changed its packaging from the effective, clever idea of an orange with a straw stuck into it and there was a public outcry. As a result, the company made a drastic decision to pull the new packaging and its accompanying advertising. In total this initiative cost the company a cool 50 million. So the lesson to be learnt here is that you should NEVER mess with a strong, simple idea that really resonates.
Packaging can be the deciding factor on whether or not a brand fails or succeeds. When the formula for the commerciality of a brand and the strategic design process works in perfect harmony, true magic can be born. Always ensure that your packaging (whatever the criteria) is as powerful and well thought-out as possible.
By Mark Haygarth