Make the most of your brand through packaging

August 30, 2012

Download article

Dale Doyle
Executive Creative Director,
based in Landor Cincinnati

You may have noticed that brands are refreshing their packs more frequently than ever before. Most noticeably in the past four or five years, speed to market with a pack refresh appears to play a larger role in overall brand activity.

Advances in technology and social networking expose consumers to new things at a rapid pace—people expect some level of change all the time. Rather than keeping the same package around for years, or even decades, many brands are acting more nimbly, balancing the need to maintain familiarity with the need to remain relevant by driving change. 

This increased frequency of package refreshes brings the return on investment (ROI) into question. While ROI is difficult to measure as it relates to branding on pack, the cost of not refreshing over time can easily be more than the cost of redoing your packaging. Below are a few ideas that can help you get the most out of your brand package design:

Packaging shouldn’t be a one-off project. Packaging plays a key role in defining your brand and driving relevance in this fast-paced market. Revitalizing a brand’s packaging presents opportunities for new and established brands to break out of the clutter and let their identity shine. Many companies evaluate packaging only when their brand is languishing or when a new variant is about to launch. Don’t think of refreshing your packaging as a project with an end date; instead, the “evolution of packaging” should be a regular conversation and strategic choice as your brand strategy evolves. 

Ground your brand in its core. Redesigning a package requires brands to be very clear about their ownable equities (and those they wish to own) so they can remain consistent at the core and drive consumer relevance at the same time. Packaging structure and graphics go hand in hand and sometimes offer the only points of differentiation for a brand. Getting help from a branding or packaging firm can help identify and strengthen ownable equities. Whether this includes evolving your brandmark or just those equities that bring your products’ benefits to life, partners can help you stay true to your brand’s core while injecting fresh elements into it.

Keep it simple. Consumers are overloaded and don’t have time to figure out your brand. If your package is too complicated, the consumer will move on in mere seconds. Simple ideas are best understood by consumers when you don’t have lots of marketing dollars to explain your big idea or the meaning behind your nomenclature. Start with crafting efficient and effective priorities of communication (POC). Brand teams often create briefs listing seven to ten (or more!) POCs for a tiny front label. Consumers get lost after three, so make sure you prioritize the most important aspects of your brand. You can share all of the other information on side or back labels—or better yet, in other media sources. 

Make time for inspiration. Trends in the market play a key role in assisting designers to mine what is relevant today. It’s important to look at what’s happening outside your category for inspiration. For example, if you are a consumer packaged goods brand, look to the automotive or architecture industries for ideas on how structure might bring a package to life; and fashion could inspire patterns, textures, and color palettes. Layering trends with your core equities is a way to help keep a brand relevant.  

Real world applications

To bring to life how these concepts can be put into practice, consider how Landor has recently designed and refreshed the following packaging for our clients:

Mi O_238

MiO: Creating a new brand. Something rare these days, the chance to create a new brand in a new category is like winning the lottery in the branding and packaging worlds. Creative teams love to imagine what-ifs and explore various scenarios that address consumer challenges. It’s much easier to measure packaging ROI if you are creating a new-to-the-world brand or category. If you are starting from scratch, very little external activity could cloud those numbers. With new brands, you don’t have years of a brand’s life shaping consumer perceptions.

With MiO, a liquid water enhancer used to flavor beverages, Landor set out to create a brand that would reach immediate iconic status. With very little space for branding on the tiny package, the big idea was to activate the MiO promise and tell the brand story through a powerful graphic “M.” 

The newly crafted brand identity was brought to life with insightful design, delivering structure and graphics that worked together to define the brand. During the first year following launch, MiO had exceeded all expectations and Kraft Foods had another $100 million brand. The return on investment as a result of the packaging seems to be pretty clear. 

Gevalia -409

Gevalia: Stretching a brand for new distribution. For a brand that has been around for well over a hundred years, a packaging refresh may seem like a daunting task. Gevalia needed to understand its ownable equities and Landor saw an opportunity to dig deep into the heritage of the brand to find visual territories that would bring the brand story to life.

Landor’s team of designers explored various brand stories and pack design options. For Gevalia, the high quality of coffee was not in question, and its Swedish heritage was the springboard for the big idea. And from that nugget of history, the entire identity and look, tone, and feel of the brand was crafted. 

Even the brand colors of yellow and blue came from the Swedish flag. Designers used imagery to evoke modern and traditional elements of Sweden and the source countries of the coffee beans. For example, French folk traditions are saluted on the graphic for French roast; Colombian coffee comes in a bag depicting a clay house, reflective of Colombian residences. Never before on the pack had the brand taken advantage of its heritage and rich coffee culture.

Sour Patch -409

Sour Patch: Refreshing an iconic brand to remain relevant. Some brands do it to combat copycats, others refresh only when introducing a new variant. Sour Patch refreshed its package to avoid look-alikes and breathe new life into the brand. Before starting the project, the team mined the brand’s equities by identifying what was important to stakeholders. They took time to understand how the brand differentiated from the competition and how it didn’t. 

Landor helped strengthen the brand’s ownable equities and created a new cast of Sour Patch characters. While still in the early stages of marketing, it appears that Sour Patch’s graphic system will be compelling at shelf and draw consumers in during that first moment of truth. 

Making the decision to either slightly refresh your package or do a major overhaul depends on the health of your brand. We often see brands that have been declining over the years, yet are hesitant to implement a packaging redesign. Today brands need to continually advance forward to remain relevant. If you think of your brand’s packaging as the living, breathing way in which your product is brought to life, then continually evolving your package makes ROI sense.


A version of this article was first published at (2 August 2012).

© 2012 Landor Associates. All rights reserved.

Industries: Food
Choose one:
Share Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInEmail