Design Essays: Design Bridge - Catch Me If You Can

Marketing, November 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

Design Essays: Design Bridge - Catch Me If You Can


Scanning the shelves for novel propositions is usually a disappointing event - and probably even more so today, after months of austerity and innovation lethargy.

Now, just imagine the average consumer in the supermarket aisle doing the 'rush hour' shop on autopilot. Or think of an online shopper choosing from a grid of thumbnails. How can brands trigger a connection and 'click' with people?

The shelves are loaded with generic packaging and it's easy for people to stick to the shopping script. So, what's on the list? The most inspiring brands that were early to innovate probably are. And if they are on the end of a gondola this week, then our consumer will stock up However, me-too brands that are trying to muscle in will struggle to fend off private labels.

OK, we call this competition, and competition is good, but brand-owners must evolve to protect their assets. To survive, brands need to demonstrate leadership and use every tool available to create and protect what is valuable intellectual property.

Brand-owners often ignore structural packaging, or at least misunderstand the value it can offer. 3D packaging is a vehicle that can be used to communicate what your brand is and what it stands for. It's not just a canvas for an enlarged logo, colours or imagery; it's what consumers pick off the shelf before they commit to buy it.

Tangible benefits

Packaging is probably the only means of brand communication that you can actually hold in your hand. By using different materials and finishes, the feel and touch can imprint a lasting impression of the brand's personality until it's time to buy again. At home, 3D packaging has the last word.

Sensory feedback is memorable. Shape, feel and functional features all connect to people and can demonstrate a strong understanding of their needs. An engaging physical pack can prove a powerful tool to embed strong consumer recall, leveraging the only touchpoint that truly reaches people.

The trend for marketers to default to the 'big logo' syndrome bewilders me. It may improve short-term standout, but competitors do copy and catch up quickly. Generic packs offer generic experiences and these short-term tactics are missing the point and failing to invest in valuable assets that help brands stay ahead.

Demystifying the 3D myth

There is a big myth around structural innovation - it's too expensive, takes too long, the technical guys say it can't be done or 'I don't have the experience to run a structural project'.

All those comments may be valid in isolation, but they point to a lack of initiative and vision of what a brand can really stand for and how it can set itself apart.

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