Packaging, by nature, is interactive. It makes the brand tangible to consumers at retail. Taking a good look at the current package design systems for most toy and entertainment brands is a revealing exercise. While doing so, ask yourself: Does the package design align with the brand? Does it speak to the brand’s positioning? Does it deliver the brand message, its promise or unique selling proposition? Does it create a positive experience for the consumer through ease of shoppability? If your toy or entertainment brand’s packaging isn’t doing these things, you most certainly have a problem.
The stakes are high now. Consumers are buying, but they’re doing so more wisely and deliberately. They’re staying loyal to the toy and entertainment brands they feel strongly about. And they remain loyal to those brands if they continue to clearly demonstrate value.
The role of package design in brand alignment
In the competitive landscape of retail, a toy or entertainment brand’s success hinges not only on the product being great, but also on how well it’s presented to consumers. Package design and its structure play a cohesively pivotal role in enhancing the value of a brand by communicating the brand’s message in a compelling manner and fostering positive experiences for consumers. Approaching your toy or entertainment brand’s package design system strategically will ensure that it aligns with the brand’s core attributes, communicates effectively and has the potential to add significant value to the brand.
For toy and entertainment brands, packaging is an extension of the brand identity. An effective package design system should seamlessly communicate the brand’s core values, personality and play pattern at a glance. Leveraging a signature color or color palette, establishing distinctive design architecture, incorporating beautifully-executed product photography or illustration, and using contemporary, target-appropriate and category-appropriate font families for on-pack communication can create a powerful, meaningful connection with consumers.
Conveying value through messaging
Successful packaging for toy and entertainment brands goes well beyond visual aesthetics. It communicates brand messaging in a highly-effective manner and generates excitement about the brand, its product line and each product’s key benefits and features. It also lets consumers know immediately whether the product promotes creativity, adventure, education or innovation. And it evokes the desired emotion while conveying the brand’s narrative.
Toy and entertainment brands can also incorporate innovative and interactive elements into their package design systems to add value and reinforce their brand message. Leveraging augmented reality experiences, puzzles or hidden surprises within the packaging not only engages consumers, but also communicates the brand’s commitment to innovation, creativity and to providing a unique experience to consumers.
Adding value through innovative structure design
Obviously, package structure that does a great job of ensuring the protection and preservation of the product during shipping to the retail environment adds value to the product. However, I’m talking more in terms of how the product is perceived through its structure design and how a well-conceived structural shape can enhance the experience consumers will have with the brand. If thoughtfully designed, package structure can help toy and entertainment brands stand out on shelf among the visual chaos of these retail aisles. Unconventional shapes, interactive elements, dimensional call-outs, eye-catching “Try Me!” calls-to-action attract attention and encourage consumer interaction with the product. As we all know, once a consumer actually picks up a product at retail, the likelihood of the purchase being made increases dramatically.
It may take a bit more effort, but cleverly-designed package structure that “unboxes” in a sequence that slowly and deliberately reveals product components one-by-one is highly-enjoyable for consumers to experience, adding a great deal of value. Innovative opening mechanisms, magnetic closures, and easy-to-open tear-away flaps create a sense of anticipation and contribute to a positive first impression, reinforce the brand’s commitment to quality and attention to detail.
Refreshing the design to add value
Refreshing the package design system is another way to breathe new life into a toy or entertainment brand, revitalizing its presence in the market and resonating with evolving consumer preferences. A design refresh doesn’t necessarily need to be a complete overhaul. Subtle, yet impactful changes can reinvigorate consumer interest. An update to a more contemporary, more visually relevant look can add perceived value and let consumers know that the brand embraces change and is committed to innovation.
Maximizing retail impact
By focusing on these aspects of package design, toy and entertainment brands can leverage their package design systems as their brand’s most powerful marketing tool, effectively increase their brand’s retail impact, attract consumers’ attention, drive sales and establish a strong brand presence in the competitive retail landscape.
Remember: It is through package design that consumers first interact with a brand’s products. And this happens at retail. If the experience consumers have with a brand’s products is positive, it may trigger more than rational “buy” responses; it will appeal to consumers’ emotions. And, emotional connections lead to brand loyalty. What this reaffirms is that it is the onus of all consumer product manufacturers in these categories to add value to their products through package design.