August 18, 2011



As “the hot dog wars” battle on between Sara Lee Corporation and Kraft Food Inc. in a Chicago courtroom over misleading package designs, I think it’s time to take a deeper look into packaging and why it is important enough for these two companies to battle it out in court.

While a brand must employ a successful strategy throughout many different touch points including advertising, identity, and web presence, it is packaging that could most directly have an impact on a brand’s sale. No longer is a product’s package merely a means of protection during transport from point A to point B, but an increasingly important factor in product’s success. A well-marked package will get a customer to pick up a product and take a closer look, which ultimately puts you one step closer to making that sale. This is why it is so important to have an interesting and compelling package design.

Kristin Everidge, Manager of Visual Branding at Addison Whitney, says “People are drawn to products with interesting packages because it suggests that what’s inside is equally appealing or different.” Package design can enhance a brand through unique structures, sustainable materials, cross promoting other products and building brand awareness through shelf displays and planograms that wow consumers during their weekly shopping trips.

Packaging is a vehicle that reflects the product’s brand and image. To ignore the importance of packaging in today’s market is your own product’s death. Package design should be a continuous investment to evolve with the ever changing world that is packaging.

But what makes a great design? I asked Kristin and these are her top five elements of a great package design (in no particular order):

    1. Shelf Presence/ability to grab attention quickly
    2. Effective informational hierarchy
    3. Inspiring materials and structure
    4. Functionality
    5. Clean & crisp design (images, typography, and functional information)

So do you think you’re immune to the power of package design? I think the real answer would surprise you, next time you’re shopping the aisles of your local Target, take note of the products you grab and how compelling their designs are compared to the products you left behind…

One Comment

  1. Nathan   August 18, 2011 9:14 am / Reply

    I agree with Kristin’s five elements of a great package design. Last night I went grocery shopping for the first time in a long time, and I observed all the feelings of an American consumer again: the store layout, free samples, screaming kids, etc. One thing I noticed immediately was the package designs. I usually buy generic when possible, but totally splurged on Quaker Oats Variety Pack Instant Oatmeal 25% Less Sugar. The package was bright and festive, and totally looked aglow near all of the other oatmeal packages, which seem to never change. While I was already planning to buy oatmeal, I probably would not have bought this specific product without the flashy packaging.

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