The Elements Of Design

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

by Greg Kishbaugh

The packaging supply chain is a delicate balancing act, each component hopefully coming together in a unified whole to provide one seamless process. But just as every journey begins with a single step, the packaging process begins with the vital concept of design. It’s the key element upon which the success of everything else depends.
     Andy Spriggs, a strategy consultant with Interact OnShelf, recently shared eight principles to consider in effective package design with Packaging World. Strong evidence still shows the majority of consumer purchase decisions are made at the store shelf. Every day the effectiveness of thousands of CPG brands hang in the balance, the deciding factor being how well the design of the packaging entices and motivates the consumer.
     Spriggs begins with an obvious strategy but one he sees many packaging designers and brand managers failing to do, which is to make certain the packaging stands out. With tens of thousands of products to compete against for the consumers’ attention, being bold isn’t enough, he argues. A package’s primary objective is to get noticed. Every design decision should be based upon that principle. Simple as that.
     Next to consider should be the degree to which the packaging displays the information most important to consumers and the brand. Briggs describes it as the ‘hierarchy of information’, knowing how best to display, without clutter or excessive use of font styles, product claims and logos, product information that will compel shoppers to put the product in their cart.
     The shelves of grocery stores and retail chains should be viewed as a competition, Briggs argues, and packaging design should reflect that reality. How is a CPGs product different than that of its competitors? If the packaging cannot quickly and effectively deliver that message to the consumer, the competition has effectively been lost.
     Packaging should also have a strong sense of identity and should express the viewpoint and ethos of the CPG. Briggs argues that we are currently experiencing a ‘counter-corporate movement.’ “Today, shoppers buy based on what a brand will reveal about them and their worldview almost as much as how the actual product performs functionally,” he said.
     As such, Briggs argues that use of stock photography and generic taglines are a death knell for the success of a product. The packaging must be used to convey the personality of the company. Instead of the typical corporate platitudes, the packaging should express the company’s interests, causes and attitudes.
     Briggs also feels that the packaging should clarify the product’s value proposition. Whether it’s a value brand or a premium product, the shopper has to understand how the product is being positioned.
     Effective design means getting into the mind of the consumer. What makes a consumer purchase one similar product over that of another? What drives their decisions? Briggs argues that knowledge researching the reasons behind shopping preferences is the key to unlocking an effective package design.
     Briggs also believes a package should do everything in its power to define the product within. Unless the product category or segment is represented in at least 50 percent of the consumers’ refrigerators and pantries, then the designer should assume the shopper knows nothing. 
     Finally, a designer must understand the real-world elements that might impact how the package is perceived in the store. Will frosted-over freezer doors obscure a clear view of the package? Will hang-tags block important information on shelves below them?
     The critical importance of a package’s design simply cannot be stressed enough. No matter how much thought and consideration have gone into the product itself, the package must operate as the consummate salesman.
     For further information visit www.interactonshelf.com.

A New Life Through Redesign

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

by Greg Kishbaugh

     An economic downturn affects companies in different ways, as it also affects individuals in different ways. In analyzing the current global market conditions, it’s clear that one group of professionals is being taxed more than ever to perform their jobs in an increasingly demanding environment. Packaging designers are being tasked with so much more than simply contributing to how a package looks, they are being asked to pump life into lagging brands, to turn around long-evolving market forces. In today’s economy, CPCs are turning to the designers to create new packaging that will not only stop downward trending sales but to reverse them.
     Several huge brands have gone through recent re-branding efforts that have proven large successes. Kraft redesigned its Macaroni and Cheese line two years ago and has reported strong growth in sales. Similarly, Heinz Beanz (which has remained a market leader for decades) still saw a need for a revamp of its packaging and immediately experienced a 12 percent growth in sales.
     The latest powerhouse consumer brand to announce a redesign of its packaging is Pepsi. A representative from brand consulting and design firm Landor and Associates believes that the new Pepsi design (which should hit stores in North America beginning next month) has followed the proper steps in a redesign. First and foremost, the package structure should come first, followed by graphics. By focusing on structure, a new package can help further the brand identity. For instance, when Evian underwent a recent relaunch the bottles were actually designed to give the physical appearance of the French Alps, a key component of the brand’s identity.
     Redesigning a package’s structure can also have more utilitarian benefits, such as the ability to further complicate the efforts of counterfeiters. Or, in the case of Nestle’s Cerelac baby cereal, a newly launched hexagonal package had the dual benefit of reducing the package’s weight while also making the package appear larger to consumers.
     In the case of Pepsi, the company has created what the Landor rep feels is a differentiated structural design that has the power to attract attention and encourage consumers to pause and take a look. Additionally, the bottle’s label earned high marks for not just visual appeal but for its aesthetic simplicity and the way in which it highlights the product inside, creating a greater appetite for the consumer.
     Understanding that the retail environment is the only sure way to test a new package’s appeal, Pepsi will roll out the redesign first in stores to evaluate its point of purchase affect before carrying it over to trucks, coolers and other touch points.
     Should Pepsi’s market share grow in the wake of the new design, look for even more CPCs to turn to their designers and ask, “What can you do to make our product sell more?”