If you don’t surprise in one way or another… you do nothing! Quite a radical statement, isn’t it? Well, it is slightly exaggerated, but there is truth in it. If we are in the business of marketing, selling and reaching out towards consumers, we need to be seen, listened to and be convincing!
Now, you cannot do this with me-too designs, unless you have a very low price, which most companies do not have. Thus you have to surprise to awake interest. You don’t learn this from the guideline, nor from best practice. So the only way is to increase creativity and do something that, within category norms, surprises.
The ways to do this are numerous. They are not easy, as there are often several people ‘in the way’ before you reach the consumer, people you need to convince, impress, people who have strong egos, people who say “not invented here”, people who don’t believe in the power of design, etc.
But there is a solution if your BIG IDEA which you have developed to sell the product is so BIG that it speaks for itself, i.e. does not need explanations. There are now and then such great ideas. How about the ipod, Pringles or Red Bull?
How do we arrive at these great solutions? There are basically 5 prerequisites:
If you are weak in any of these areas, you have less chance to SURPRISE the consumer.
Now what can you do to surprise a consumer when it comes to package design? I’ll try to give three ideas.
FIRST: Question the briefing
If you follow the briefing to 100%, you will most likely do the predictable and your client will be satisfied – you are not of the ‘creative type’. Question the briefing! Try to challenge the standard marketing thinking. Don’t disregard the briefing, but try some field a little outside the box.
SECOND: Create a big idea
The big idea is a concept and therefore you have to think “total communication” and not only package design. Certain things can be done in package design, others in POS and others in advertising. The pack design will surprise if it does not contain all of the ‘ingredients’. The saying “simplify in order to amplify” is very important here. The surprise is often something amplified, even exaggerated. The surprise can be amplified through various media.
THIRD: Work on material and shape before graphics
As we are so fascinated today by the design computer, we have a tendency to use it too quickly and thus concentrate on layout, illustrations and text.
Great surprising packages are often not graphic design, but shape design. Surprising packages are often the result of the combination of materials, plastic for transparency and cardboard for stability.
Surprising packages often mean cost increases as you may need a new filling or closing line. But have you realized that great packages speak for themselves, so you may need less other media? At the end of the day, the total cost may be the same and as you most likely will be more unique and efficient, you will sell more and isn’t that what it is all about?