September 26, 2021
Packvertising: 7 Tips to maximising your packaging design

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Now, this might seem a little unorthodox but before jumping into these 7 packvertising tips it's probably best to take a step back.

Close your eyes and think back to the last time you were in a supermarket aisle or browsing online - out of the thousands of products you passed, only very few captured your attention enough to get you to add them to your cart. In fact, you probably can't even recall why you chose that item. There's a reason for that and it relates to the emotive function of the brain.

It's not just you, it's all of us. Humans are innately programmed to make choices that are effortless. We like to believe we make decisions logically but science has proven most decisions are made subconsciously. Emotions often play a larger part in decision making than rationality, so the role of a brand is to build positive mental associations (emotions) which make those choices easy, frictionless and literally unconscious (system 1).

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman - Book cover

Now, here's the kicker, the average human brain makes 35,000 decisions a day¹, 90% of which are made subconsciously. To deal with that volume of activity our brains look for shortcuts. They are hardwired to seek out structure and patterns to make sense of the world. We use shortcuts to piece together visual information. Brands are essentially shortcuts, and key design assets (logos, colors, shapes etc) are shortcuts to brands.

If you weren't aware we're visual creatures. We can process images 60,000 times faster than text and 90% of information sent to our brain is visual. So, when you've got less than 2 seconds to capture your audience we want to make sure your product communicates the right things - which is where Packvertising comes in.

The average human makes 35,000 decisions a day

Simply put it means that packaging should be understood as an advertising channel. It factors in all the ways in which a person interacts with the brand's packaging. All of which form part of their brand experience (those positive mental associations a brand is trying to create).

The term gained notoriety as a result of the successful packaging redesign of Dorset Cereals by UK design agency Big Fish.

Dorset cereals packaging design change 2005

The new design in 2005 saw Dorset Cereals grow from £13m in 2006 to £20million in 2007 without any above-the-line advertising (TV ads, radio, print etc). You only need to look at the cereal aisle to realize just how impressive that is with the amount of competing brands.

The following 7 tips are what Simon Gore MD of Big Fish argues should be considered when looking to maximize the effectiveness of a brand's packaging.

Tip 1. Bring your brand to life

Here in Australia our biggest supermarket holds more than 20,000 products and in other parts of the world, it is close to double that. The thing is, we'd probably struggle to name 50 of those products by name.

Most of us shop on auto-pilot.

So if you're a new brand trying to 'cut through' an established category your packaging needs to capture the brand's unique selling points as quickly as possible. For established brands, the goal is to short-circuit the selection process.

** First impressions count.**

Happy socks packaging

The example Simon refers to is Happy Socks. They brought their vision of spreading happiness by turning the everyday essential sock into a colourful design piece and this is communicated right through to their packaging. We also love that the packaging considers the environment in which it will be displayed.

Who Gives A Crap does this really well too. Who would've thought the restroom could be a fun room filled with a little joy and delight - 'Who Gives A Crap'.

Tip 2. Treasure your brand packaging assets

When you think of Cadbury what color comes to mind? Or the shape of a Coke or Absolut bottle?

These types of assets play a critical role in helping brands get noticed. With our brains always looking for shortcuts these assets are effective because they trigger recognition, meaning and memory, and in categories loaded with competition this speaks volumes.

Coca Cola bottle design brief quote from 1915
Coca cola bottled designed by Root Glass Company
Tip 3. Let your product speak for itself

Russian designer Nikita Konkin took packaging design to another level, by allowing the product features to come to life, creating surprise, joy and more importantly aiding how one navigates the range.

Spaghetti hair packaging design
Tip 4. Make a real statement on shelf or online

We'd extend this to make a statement in any environment.

And a great example of this is Monday Haircare. They know a thing or two about making a statement and that is reflected in their sales. The brand is literally flying off shelves, selling 10 bottles of their shampoo and conditioner every minute around the world.

The iconic bottle shape and pink monochrome coloring give it the power to cut through saturated supermarket shelves with ease and add a sense of lux to any bathroom.

Monday Haircare bottles
Tip 5. Make your packaging part of the brand experience

In this day and age, anything is possible when it comes to making your packaging part of the brand experience. From the unboxing to employing the packaging as part of game-play, to integrating technology into the experience.

Wine brand 19 Crimes is well-known for its use of augmented reality (AR) tech with its Living Wine Labels, bringing its bottles to life with infamous historical outlaws.

Tip 6. Respect and embrace sustainability

I think you will probably be aware of our position on sustainability and the importance materials can have in healing our world. Earlier we mentioned the folks at Who Gives A Crap who not only make their products from sustainable materials but also use 50% of their profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries. What many might not be aware of is that their packaging wrap for each roll can also be recycled, composted or repurposed (I've even wrapped Christmas and Birthday presents using their packaging).

A favourite here at Grounded is from the team at Zero Co who are turning ocean plastics into home-cleaning and personal-care products. And in the process of eliminating single-use plastics from laundries, kitchens and bathrooms.

Zero Co packaging

We're all well aware of the volume of plastic that enters our oceans. 9 million tonnes of it to be exact. One of the more devastating plastic items to both marine life and the environment are 6 pack rings.

So, Saltwater Brewery created 'Edible Six-Pack Rings' the first 100% biodegradable and edible pack using the biowaste from the brewing process.

Saltwater brewery edible six pack rings
Tip 7. Balance freshness with consistency

Simon refers to this as 'fresh consistency.' Basically what this means is keeping what makes the packaging unique (the design elements that we recognize) while injecting new life. Absolut Vodka is a brand that continues to deliver on this time and time again. They employ limited edition packaging designs that look like works of art.

Absolut Vodka packaging design

One of our recent favorites that strike the perfect balance of fresh and consistent is by Le chocolat des Français who manufacture natural and handcrafted chocolate bars 100% made in France. To break barriers of traditional chocolate packaging, the brand adopts a bold and unconventional choice of colors as well as funny and provoking illustrations of France.

Le chocolat des Francais packaging
Bonus tip: Deliveries that recruit new customers

The pandemic has obviously increased the number of deliveries that are turning up on doorsteps. With many stores closed and/or having limited customer visits deliveries have taken on added value. This is an opportunity to capture the attention of new customers. At Grounded we use this as an opportunity to bring our brand message literally to life with the use of our PlantmadeTM and WastemadeTM product sets.

Le chocolat des Francais packaging

The world is literally your oyster when it comes to maximizing the effectiveness of your packaging design. Whatever direction you take it should capture the most distilled expression of your brand to appeal to both the heads and hearts of your audience.

Grounded Packaging offers a wide range of fully customizable eco-packaging products.

1 Wansink. B, & Sobal. J. (2007) Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook. Environment and Behaviour Vol. 39(1), pp. 106-123.

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