Having the chance to work on ‘both sides of the fence’, i.e. as a designer in the design world with agencies and as a marketeer in the business world with both retailers and small and big FMCG companies I am, as many readers might have understood, often frustrated. But also thrilled, as there is so much still undone, as Ingvar Kamprad at IKEA so rightly said a few years ago.
In my teaching, either through this website, with my book or in numerous workshops, fairs and seminars, I constantly try to bridge the gap between the above two worlds in order to achieve more efficient communication which should hopefully lead to brand loyalty and sales!
The designers have a tendency to be mostly occupied with the execution and less with the content. The brand managers, on the other hand, are mostly occupied with being ‘politically correct’ and to please their bosses, the research department, or themselves… so who takes care of the content?
As great design is only partly about logic and more about gut feel and emotional values, we don’t see, at least as I judge it, enough great designs in the FMCG trade. It struck me when I was in Sweden last month and did some exhaustive storechecking in the main retailing chains. The Swedish trade is a mixture of private label (retailers’ brands) and national or international brands. Here are my advice to make them more sales-oriented:
RTB/USP… call it what you want
When buying a product for the first time, the consumer chooses it for a certain reason. The trigger may be word-of-mouth, an advertisement, an article in a newspaper, thirst, hunger, etc. But if it is not for the above reasons, the consumer will buy a new product out of curiosity. Now how do we stimulate this curiosity? Basically by words, by pictures, or both. If it is words, they must call to action!
It is here many agencies, as well as brand managers, are weak in my opinion, as it is difficult to be a good copywriter. There are many ways to make an impact with words. You may use what the British people call ‘loaded words’, words which are charged with meaning, such as ‘more’, ‘offer’, or ‘free’.
It can also be a question, as questions have a bigger chance to awake curiosity and reaction. I could not resist a Kellogg’s pack which said “Do you get enough fibers?” In principle, every pack should have a strong RTB!
Appetite appeal or product ‘glorification’
Most packages cannot show the product as it is, unless one uses transparent packing material as glass or plastic. You need to present the product in its best light. This means for instance food styling or product illustration which highlights a special part, or using appropriate props in order to make the product as attractive as possible (without lying, of course!). Great food styling is not only understanding the product, but to add an artistic touch which makes the illustration unique (just as the logotype, the design, the shape, etc.). Great packaging is about uniqueness. It’s about being different.
Before selecting an RTB, an illustration or a layout, a great package designer will always put the question: what will be great to touch? As package design is a commercial form of art which you hold in your hands, it is important that your hands and your sight give the best possible signals to your brain. Smell, sound and taste, the other three senses, are obviously of less importance in package design.
I still remember how Mr Brabeck who wrote the foreword in my book, tore the tear-strip of the carton in which it is packed, took it out and touched the silky surface of the cover, expressing great satisfaction! Why do I stress the importance of the material? Because today, designs are too often developed in front of a computer screen!
Here are the basic advice I suggest you follow:
- Make the opening device easy to manipulate.
- If this is not possible, when for instance the product needs to be tamper proof, give as clear and simple instructions as possible of how to open the product.
- Indicate clearly, for instance with an arrow, where to find the easy opening device.
- Use illustrations rather than words.
The website and the service panel
I believe that the bond between the product and the consumer should almost be as a love affair, i.e. the bond should be emotional rather than rational. Here is the proposed key information in order to achieve this:
- a BIG, well visible website where to find further information;
- a text about the product that constantly changes, stimulating reading, as does a daily newspaper;
- simple, understandable nutritional information and/or advice for a healthy living, also reminding the consumer to do some physical execercise. I like the Danish traffic lights proposal:
- some sort of visible seal or quality stamp by the company behind the brand in question, giving a feeling of trust and commitment.