3 Tips to Brands for Better Package Design

Expert Secrets, Partially Revealed

You’ve prepared a stellar, comprehensive brief for your package design firm, waited anxiously for the presentation of their first creative work, and are just about to choose the design that will help to make or break your brand. No pressure!

Here are few thoughts that could help you make the right choice among the array of design work presented.

1. Plan For Growth

Think about building a package that is flexible enough to adjust for successful expansion beyond your initial product concept. What happens to the design when you add other flavors, other functions, or expand your brand into other product categories?

Take Time Developing Brand Guidelines

Major branded package design establishes a set of brand assets: colors, typography, a photo or illustration style. Ideally, you want all of these to remain consistent. Careful adherence to a consistent set of visual elements help support consumer understanding. In addition to this, it helps convey that the brand is a sign of steady and reliable quality. This becomes a valuable business property. And, as a result, a greater risk for large companies to change their package in a redesign.

The challenge for marketers with an established design is to remain flexible enough so that risk aversion doesn’t hinder necessary improvements.

Rebranding Simply For Growth

CMA has worked with the Simply juice brand since 2001 as it grew from a single orange juice into a billion-dollar brand with multiple juice varieties. The first Simply label is a good example of a design that worked well for the initial offering. However, it could have been improved if the designers had foreseen potential issues as the line was extended.

The Problem

If the first design was planned for a broader future juice line, the problem of the black lettering surprinted over dark fruits like limes or cranberries would have surfaced earlier.

Simply Recognizes The Issue

Because of the perceived risk of changing the design of a successful, growing brand, over the years, the Simply juices line accumulated a set of design elements that were not working as cleanly as they could have. New flavors and benefits added more color and complexity to the hand-lettered typography. This began to interfere with the desired simplicity of the brand character.

In 2016, Simply management invited CMA to participate in a competitive redesign to help refresh the line. Extensive consumer research eliminated the entries of the other design firms, and a new design that best addressed the visual clutter was chosen.

CMA Provides A Solution

A simple shift, separating the refined hand-lettered logo from the fruit imagery made a huge difference in clarity, simplicity, and legibility. The black on white hand lettering became simpler, with less thick-thin contrast. Realistic photographic fruit imagery replaced the old illustration technique. In addition to this, the colored gradients and bars were eliminated. Flavors and pulp levels were now called out in a clean, simple arc of color at the top of the label.

The new design rolled out into the marketplace in an ideal manner from the point of view of the client: there were enough differences in the refreshed look that consumers noticed and appreciated it, but not so much that they were confused to the point of breaking their accustomed connection with the brand.

2. Identify Key Brand Assets

package design

In 2009, Tropicana provided a stunning example of just how risky changing package design can be. This all occurred when they changed the packaging for Tropicana Pure Premium.

Understanding The Changes

Tropicana’s ad agency decided to change most of the elements on their package. They walked away from the long-established straw in an orange mnemonic device that had been the centerpiece of the packaging line for years. At the same time, they changed the logo, removing a distinctive element. They replaced it with a modern sans set vertically. Now the primary visual element on the pack was a glass of orange juice which could be from any private label orange juice. This led to the brand losing the distinction it once had. The Tropicana consumer was lost.

Mistakes Cost Money

As seen in this example, sometimes dropping the familiar brand aspects greatly backfires. Their sales dropped 20% in the first two months. Tropicana lost more than $50 million and a large share of sales to competitors, including Simply. They eventually abandoned the new look and went back to their old design.

Consumer research prior to making this big of a design change could have helped prevent the loss of money. With research, they could have identified key brand assets like the iconic straw in the orange mnemonic device, and the familiar Tropicana logo typography, preserving them as key package elements that should be altered very cautiously.

3. Seek Package Design Experts

Ad agencies with huge resources and offices on every continent are impressive organizations that can offer every service imaginable to their clients. This especially rings true when it comes to package design, it pays to select a specialist.

It takes years of practice to effectively balance the needs of novelty and familiarity required to refresh large packaged good brands – just enough but not too far.

Ad agencies are rewarded by taking risks in their advertising creative. However, this can be dangerous to a brand if extended into the package design. If an advertising message fails to hit the target it can be reworked quickly. And, typically at a relatively low cost with little wasted media expenditure. However, a misjudgment in packaging design can affect millions in hard material costs.

Interested in learning more about us? If so, check out our CMA Brand Presence & Design portfolio on Agency Spotter.

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Ben Denbigh
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