Thoughts & Opinions

It’s time to trust your instincts

Next time your brand & packaging design is up for review and you’re busy garnering colleagues' opinions and drafting an agency briefing, it’s your gut feelings that could make all the difference.

Influential business speaker, Malcolm Gladwell said, “truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking’. It’s a statement that has even broader implications for Brand Managers and final brand designs. For those in the know the consensus is that’s exactly what consumers are balancing when they judge brands. With practicalities assessed but instinct (emotion) playing a greater role in the decision making process.

As product packaging is usually the first consumer touch point, this puts packaging design at the forefront of a modern branding conundrum - how will consumers react instinctively to the design?

It’s less puzzling when you focus on one fundamental change – that people no longer connect with a past world of mass produced products sold using conceptualised marketing ideas and are now enticed by brands presented with individuality, truth and heart.

So how do you make sense of brand & packaging today so you can trust your instincts?

Every brand needs an authentic position. As packaging space is limited this may require visual shorthand. The New Covent Garden Soup Co. logo for example is contained within a veg box brimming with raw ingredients, a quick way to tell a story of good, honest produce, fresh from the market.

Provenance is one of the buzz inclusions for brand design - not just as an excuse to promote foods as British. Provenance can work in two ways - where ingredients are attributable to a place, providing traceability and reassurance, or where the source of origin offers the brand something unique, distinctive and marketable.

Good story telling is crucial. Brands started by individuals with vision or craft skills are more engaging and charming, of course. But whatever your story it has to come from the heart. The traditional marketing approach of a latched-on concept drawn from a conclusion doesn’t work as well today because a clever idea has no soul.

In terms of overall impression -  design that cuts through takes its cues from challenger branding - an antithesis of the way establish brands are presented. Rigid and orderly design gives the impression that products are mass produced, whereas the free form look that typifies challenger branding – handcrafted type and quirky illustrations – works because it has a humanising effect.

So when evaluating the elements that make-up a pack design, don’t forget to trust your instincts. Ultimately it’s not simply what you communicate that matters but how the design makes people feel.