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The secret to successful packaging design

be realEffective brand design is the only way to fight parity on the retail shelf.

Over the next six weeks, Inside FMCG reveals the six ingredients that go into ensuring successful packaging design.

Secret Ingredient 1: Be Real

In sales there is always a tendency for the salesperson to slightly over exaggerate in an effort to ensure the perception of what they are selling is unique and exciting.

Often salespeople will tell ‘white lies’, in order to be perceived as the ‘right fit’.  The problem is that this plastic veneer is very quickly seen through by prospects.

Even though a potential prospect may not know exactly why they didn’t ‘trust’ the salesperson, they just didn’t and as a result, more often than not the sale is lost.

The same is true for the consumers experience on the retail floor. Consumers are looking for authenticity. In fact authenticity has become more than a trend. Authenticity has become an essential part of a successful brand and by extension its packaging design.

Don’t leave me high and dry!

Recently a manufacturer of natural nut bars and muesli bars updated their branding and packaging. Their new packaging design screamed … “Hey look here! Look at me!”, when the consumer got close to the product on shelf and saw how ‘unnatural’ the pack looked, they automatically assumed that the product wasn’t natural either, and thus didn’t buy. The product pack did not reflect the supposed down-home nature of the product.

The ‘unnatural’ feel of the packaging design, claiming all natural ingredients left the consumer feeling somewhat misled. The packaging design, whilst attracting them to the shelf, left the consumer disappointed by the perceived inauthentic nature of the product.

If you say ‘natural’ – then look, feel and speak natural.

Example of how “inauthenticity” backfired!

As a society we have come to expect authenticity and when a brand/person gets found out we become deeply insulted. There was a recent highly publicised example of this reaction to “inauthenticity” in the UK.

It seems that the patrons of Harris + Hoole, a local coffee shop, discovered, to their extreme disdain, that in fact the supermarket chain Tesco owned a 49 per cent stake in the company. The disenchanted regulars reported their disgust to the Guardian newspaper. In the report they said that they had felt “duped” and “upset” because they had been led to believe that Harris + Hoole was an independent coffee shop. The regular patrons disillusionment was because Tesco, it seemed, was “trying to make money” out of artisan values. So, the regulars all left to find another, more authentic place to get their fill of java.

Authentic photography trend

Look at the growing anti-stock-photo trend amongst social media users. Typical stock photography has a tendency to look unnatural and often alienates viewers. Interestingly enough, the growing Millennial market and even Generation Xers are tending to associate stock photography with inauthenticity and cheesiness. This demographic are reported as seeing common stock images as being salesy and off-putting. High-resolution, high quality photos have far greater appeal, both in terms of their authenticity and their honesty.

In an effort to be perceived as “authentic” both social media users and businesses are no longer using images from stock photography sites like BigStockPhoto. Instead, they are embracing candid, behind-the-scenes shots of themselves and their teams. Be REAL is no longer just a sentiment … it’s a requirement!

This trend is driven by consumers wanting brands to show the REAL them. Staying true to yourself, showing your audience who you really are, and not some perfect unrealistic version of you. Embrace the imperfection and just be real. Showcase your brand positioning, who you are & what you stand for. This is such an integral part of building a successful brand.

Does your product packaging truly express your brand story accurately?

The secret that effective marketers have come to realise is that their product packing design MUST encompass the core values, the DNA of their organisation. Where there is tradition in the brand, that legacy needs to shine forth. These core values and vision, provide an essential roadmap for both design and success on the retail shelf. These essential values become an all encompassing part of the expression of the brands distinctive qualities which emerge through the packaging design. Whether you know it or not … your company has an emotive story and your products are the characters of that story line.

Make sure you:
Discover the central emotive story of your brand/product.
Make sure you find a packaging designer who will translate your story through the packaging.

Say what you mean and mean what you say

Being real on pack means being able to explain your mission, vision and the promise of the product. The packaging design must provide the consumer with insight into what they will experience when buying your product. Great packaging designers are able to build a solid bridge between where the brand and the product currently sits and where the consumer wants to be.

Ian Segail is the General Manager – Operations at Sydney-based branding, packaging and design agency Jam&Co. 

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