As the principal of my own design agency for almost 30 years, my belief that creativity is an absolute necessity for problem solving in our new business environment is deeply ingrained. Clearly, given the marketplace that has emerged since the downturn in our global economy, the same approaches to marketing that we adopted in the past no longer work, and they probably never will again. I’ve argued repeatedly that a combined right brain (creative) and left brain (analytic) approach is necessary to solve the complexities of brand management … now, more than ever.
It concerns me when companies are interested in revitalizing their brand’s packaging if they’re still leveraging an “old school” marketing approach to their overall branding efforts. The fact remains: packaging refers back to the brand when properly developed. But, if the brand is no longer relevant to consumers or isn’t clearly differentiated from competitive brands within its category, or if it needs to reconnect with its core consumers or has become a commodity, a simple refresh of its packaging isn’t going to make much of a difference.
For packaging to be truly effective, new thinking has to permeate the entire company from top to bottom. It’s time to get disruptive, people. It’s time to get creative … generate excitement. Entertain. Engage. These are the qualities that consumers are responding to today. These are the qualities that motivate their purchase decisions. Brands that don’t adopt these qualities are being dismissed by today’s consumers.
So, where does enjoyment come into play?
People enjoy brands and products that deliver the unusual … the unexpected, with creativity, excitement or entertainment value, as well as an invitation to engage. That’s why some brands – albeit fewer and fewer – command so much attention in today’s marketplace. They’re fluid and dynamic; they have the flexibility to respond to our culture and adapt to changing markets with ease. Consumers enjoy interacting with these kinds of brands.
Eliciting emotional response adds value to brands
Emotions are what’s truly important. No matter how hard we try to be logical and analytical in our marketing and design efforts, consumers don’t shop like Mr. Spock. When the senses are engaged, emotional responses are triggered. In our experience, enjoyment is a powerful motivator. It leads to brand awareness and loyalty. Emotions overrule every other consideration as our minds tell us ”We simply have to have this particular product; this particular brand.”
Bottom line: new vision and approaches applied to age-old problems can add significantly more value to brands over their competitors. Brands must do everything in their power to avoid falling into the ho-hum, business-as-usual brand management trap. They need to approach their businesses with more creativity and energy than the norm. If they do, they’ll be richly rewarded by consumers as a result.
Packaging should make perfect sense in the branding and marketing continuum. It should be fresh, unique and consistent with every other customer-facing element. Package design must communicate energy, a differentiating point of view and offer the promise of enjoyment. That’s what will make it effective in the retail environment.
My advice: if your brand is less than exciting, reposition, rebrand, and THEN repackage. In that order. Disrupt, create, entertain, engage. Deliver positive energy and enjoyment to consumers and they’ll not only become loyal, they’ll motivate their individual communities to become loyal, too.
Become one of the all-too-few brands that matter.