We like to think that all marketing communication strategies and principles begin with the product packaging. Think about it: what is your product really known for? Is it really the product itself? Oftentimes, that isn’t the case. Actually, product packaging tends to be the first thing that comes to mind. It’s what separates bottled soda from tetra pack juice drinks, or the difference between your old “reliable” product and the new “questionable” one.
Why is product packaging important?
As the visual representation of a brand, the packaging is the primary mental image that leaves its mark on consumers’ minds. Therefore, to connect with consumers and separate itself from competitors, a brand’s packaging should conjure up genuine emotions or initiate engagement.
Product packaging is all about advertising the brand and what it has to offer. One look at it should appeal to a specific instinct, memory or emotion. To do that, it has to create a balance between looking unique enough (to the point where comparisons and similarities with other packaging won’t be made) and familiar enough (for the audience to easily make sense of and remember).
A basic equation of form and function
To stay top-of-mind, brands use the product packaging as a blank canvas that exhibits what the brand thinks of itself and how it wants to be perceived by its audience. Does it use quirky images, typography, colours and a playful layout to reach out to a specific kind of audience? Maybe that’s what their branding is all about. Does the packaging look sleek and formal, with straight lines, tight typography and no-nonsense design? It’s possible that the product’s target market resonates with that kind of packaging.
Treat product packaging the same way you would treat any marketing and branding initiative of the company. Go to great lengths to find out what design works in appealing to your audience: conduct market research, experiment on the visual and other sensory elements that affect perception, and constantly evaluate the now to make way for the future.
It all boils down to coming up with the right mix of form and function. The product packaging must not only do its part in protecting the product and being effective and efficient at dispensing or storing that product; it should also come in a form that appeals to its audience.
In summation, product packaging is not just about protecting the product from storage and transport to the consumer’s lap. It’s also about:
- Creating a mental image of the brand;
- Setting itself apart from its competitors and other brands;
- Exhibiting what the brand thinks of itself; and
- Staying top-of-mind and appealing to its audience.