When you take a look at a particular brand’s packaging, what’s the first thing you notice? Arguably it’s the brand identity. Quite often, consumers hone in on the color they associate with the brand. However, I would venture to say that it is the design architecture of a brand’s packaging that resonates most with consumers.
While it isn’t evident on every brand’s packaging, many do employ distinctive package design architecture based on the most significant visual assets associated with the brand. Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious; other times it’s subtle or difficult to discern. However, if it’s developed properly, package design architecture is what consumers recognize about a brand’s packaging, in an instant, in an over-crowded, competitive retail environment.
Traditional consumer product brands can still be successful without distinctive package design architecture because the entire product line is merchandised within the same shelf set in a single category (think shampoo, detergent, soup, motor oil, etc.). These brands can rely on an ownable color palette, a unique structure design strategy or a prominently displayed brand identity to distinguish themselves from their competition.
Distinctive package design architecture is critical
In the case of licensed consumer products, distinctive package design architecture isn’t merely beneficial, it’s an absolute necessity. Packaging programs for licensed consumer products must represent the licensed property in a visually distinctive manner across a diversity of categories. Since licensed products are rarely merchandized in planograms or in store-within-store scenarios, the most important component of a licensed property’s packaging is its package design architecture.
Imagine you’re shopping for a preschooler who is infatuated with Hasbro’s PJ Masks. PJ Masks products are easy to find in the preschool aisle within the toy section of any Target or Walmart. However, what if you’re not looking for a PJ Masks toy at all? What if you’re looking for PJ Masks consumer electronics products? Or PJ Masks back-to-school products? PJ Masks bedding? All of these products are found in different categories. So, what has Hasbro done to ensure that consumers will be able to easily and instantly find these licensed PJ Masks items? They’ve established distinctive package design architecture – Owlette, Catboy and Gekko, vertically stacked and flying into the design along the left side of the primary display panel – and standardized its usage on every licensed product’s package, regardless of whether it’s a blister card, closed box, hangtag, header card or any other structural format imaginable. Everyone recognizes these three red, blue and green superheroes, so why not lead with the brand’s strongest visual asset?
This is just one example of a licensed property with a packaging program that successfully leverages distinctive package design architecture for maximum brand recognition across all consumer product categories. Which other licensed properties are doing this effectively? Which would benefit from a design refresh due to their lack of a cohesive packaging program based on distinctive package design architecture?