Visibility, communication and persuasion: The packaging puzzle

Visibility, communication and persuasion: The packaging puzzle

Alexander Kleijngeld Senior Solution Consultant at MetrixLab

By Alexander Kleijngeld,
Senior Director, Solution Consultancy at MetrixLab

At its core, a great packaging design does three things: Grabs attention, communicates and persuades the consumer to buy. Simple enough, right? The tricky part in making great visible, communicative and persuasive packaging is that those three goals can conflict with each other.

While bright colors can certainly make a product stand out on the shelf, they are off-putting to some customers. Similarly, you might include photography in your packaging design to demonstrate the product in use. This, however, can compromise the speed of brand recognition.

So, there is no universal solution to a successful packaging design. It’s a puzzle where both creativity and analytics intertwine – and that’s exactly what makes it such an interesting challenge!

Use color and visual assets to design visible packaging

Strong visibility is the first step to creating a powerful packaging design. Unless your product is seen by a consumer, there is no one to persuade to buy it. So, how do you ensure your product is seen and stands out from the competition?

One way is using color that contrasts with competitors’ packaging. Milka’s packaging design demonstrates this brilliantly. Their highly distinctive purple packaging launched at a time when the color of chocolate packaging was dictated by chocolate type. Particularly, red for pure, blue for milk and green for hazelnut.

Milka chocolate bar


Besides contrasting colors, distinctive visual branding offers another way to stand out from the competition. Apple’s apple, Shell’s shell and Camel’s camel are all great visible packaging examples. Their carefully crafted visual identity elements have become distinctive brand assets. For many brands, their most – and often their only – distinctive visual asset is their logo. If this is true for your brand, make sure it captures consumer attention. Simply by giving it a sizeable and prominent presence, you can optimize on your visible packaging design.

Using effective communication packaging to share the benefits of your product convincingly

It’s important that your product is seen by the consumer, but visibility alone doesn’t guarantee success. If you want your products to sell, make sure the consumer finds good reasons to buy it while browsing the aisles. You can achieve this by convincingly communicating the benefits of your product and brand through your communication packaging design.

Most importantly, the core benefit needs to be clear. We often see brands succeed at this by adding the core benefit into the name of the product. Sometimes, however, this is not feasible. Especially when your product has several functional benefits worth mentioning. In this case, list them on the package attractively, such as through icons. This a great option to boost your communication packaging.

Now that you have given the consumer a reason to buy, give them a reason to trust your product claims. Gain credibility by showing images of the ingredients. For example, why not include a partially transparent package to reveal the contents to the consumer? Dorset Cereal demonstrates this method excellently through their bold communication packaging.

Finally, you can use packaging to tap into consumers’ subconscious and give your product an emotional appeal. Bonne Maman jam features design elements like their handwritten logo and tablecloth patterned lid. This creates an authentic impression of artisanal quality for their brand.

Halo Top birthday cake ice creamDorset cereals simply oat granolaBon Maman strawberry confiture

Source, source, source

Balance category and brand benefits for persuasive packaging

Your packaging may catch the eye, credibly communicate product benefits and create emotional appeal with its design. But is that all that’s needed to persuade your consumer? If not, then what was all the fuss about creating good visible and communication packaging?

Brand choice is often driven by subconscious thought and emotion. This makes it difficult to isolate consumer preferences – even for consumers themselves. In our experience, the most successful packaging designs are those that find a distinctive brand-specific benefit. What helps it more is combining it with a category benefit. For example, a shampoo’s category benefit is clean hair. Its distinctive brand benefit may be making your hair – and by extension your personality – shine. Persuading a shopper to choose your brand over a competitor takes convincing packaging. One that features a balance between communicating category and distinctive brand benefits.

Aussie Miracle Shine Shampoo


How we can help you create strong visible, communicative and persuasive packaging

With trade-offs at every step, the art and science of creating packaging design comes with a degree of risk. Frameworks and heuristics do exist, but consumer brand choices are elusive and dynamic. Thus, these rules of thumb may only scratch the surface of what will lead to success.

Mitigating this risk is where we can help with our PACT Suite. Our set of solutions geared to optimize your packaging at every stage, and pre-test the outcome before going to market. Contact us to get started! Would you like to do some more research yourself? Download our whitepaper on creating powerful, visible, communicative and persuasive packaging for more tips.

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