I was standing in the grocery store staring at the shelf looking for my brand. Becoming frustrated, I tracked down an employee to help me find the brand I had to have. They brought me back to where I had been standing and pointed to a box I’d overlooked. There it was, the product I wanted, but the package had a whole new look. The logo was smaller and the background color had changed.
How many others had searched and given up?
You may recall the story about Tropicana’s rebrand disaster. Within a week of the new carton design hitting the stores, sales dropped by 19%. Loyal Tropicana customers couldn’t see the new package so they purchased a competitor’s orange juice. Tropicana quickly replaced the new cartons with old packaging and sales returned to normal.
How could it have gone so wrong?
Rather than hashing out how to recognize a rebrand is needed, I want to jump right to the 3 ways to ensure a successful package design.
- Honor the brand value you’ve built
- Create a great design that controls the viewers eye
- Consumer test your strategy
1: Retain Brand Impression
Brand equity and recognition is built over the life of a product because consumers associate visuals and package design with brands. Retaining core attributes of brand visuals in the package redesign is critical to leveraging the existing brand equity. Only in extreme instances would one trash everything and start anew (ie. brand equity is irreparably damaged or brand is unknown in that industry).
2: A Great Design Controls the Viewers Eye
OK, I admit design is my passion. Composition is key to whether the customer sees your package and responds. There has to be design tension, a hierarchy to visual importance that leads the viewer through your message progressively. And, the additional challenge is working within brand standards while designing for shelf impact.
3: Get Independent Shelf Impact and Package Testing
Getting feedback from internal staff is a given. Product ownership usually can make you miss some obvious issues because you’re so close. Getting opinions of people outside of your development team is highly recommended. A simple solution is to get reactions from friends and strangers, being careful not to lead them to the response you want. Friends want to help and unknowingly try to provide the answers you want to hear.
There are a number of market research tools and techniques to consider. Some you can do yourself, in person and online, but weigh carefully the value of independent research.
We take a prototype package to a retailer and place it on the shelf beside competitors to see its impact in that environment. You can also get an idea of effectiveness by rendering the package into a photo of the store area.
While in the store, shoppers can be canvased for their impression. This is typically done with the approval of the store and their corporate offices.
If you have an email list of raving brand fans you could set up an online survey and ask that they participate. You can also purchase and email to an opt-in list of your demographic profile for a bigger response profile.
On-line and in-store research can also be handled by a firm specializing in consumer testing. Some researchers employ new technology that can be more accurate. Eye-tracking, heat mapping, GSR and other sensors help in providing unbiased, unfiltered responses for a truer gauge of package design effectiveness.
The eye-tracking reports I read reinforced my findings that a skilled designer who creates design hierarchy correctly will deliver a successful package design.
In conclusion, taking these 3 steps will provide the best package design with brand impact you need in-store.