Packaging Multiple Brands Under a Single Brand Umbrella

Packaging Multiple Brands Under a Single Brand Umbrella

Over the course of the last few decades, our design consultancy has come to realization that package design serves as a powerful tool for storytelling, brand recognition, and consumer engagement. As experts in package design for licensed brands, in particular, we understand the importance of creating a visually cohesive look for an overarching brand that allows each IP that it represents express its individuality without compromising the strong, unified brand statement necessary to be successful at retail. In this article, I’ll explore the intricacies of developing packaging for multiple entertainment brands under a single overarching brand, from establishing visual hierarchy to the myriad of benefits of leveraging a unified approach to package design.

Establishing a clear visual hierarchy

At the heart of package design for multiple licensed entertainment brands lies the delicate balance between unity and differentiation. While each brand possesses its own distinct identity and fan base, it’s essential to create a cohesive visual language that ties them together under a common umbrella.

The first step in this process is to establish a clear visual hierarchy. At the forefront stands the overarching brand, which serves as the unifying force behind the diverse array of entertainment properties. This brand should be prominently featured within the package design, conveying a sense of authority and consistency across the product line. However, presenting the overarching brand prominently doesn’t mean that it should visually dominate the package design. Although it must be the first read, it should fill much less space on-pack than the individual entertainment brands, acting as their endorser and the common visual thread that ties the entire product line together.

Beneath the overarching brand lie the individual entertainment brands, each with its own unique attributes and appeal. While these brands may vary in terms of tone, style, and target audience, they should share common design elements that align with the overarching brand’s aesthetic. This could include a consistent use of typography, color palette, illustration style, graphic motifs or a general design sensibility that reinforces the overarching brand’s identity while allowing each individual property to shine in its own right.

By establishing a clear visual hierarchy, package design can effectively balance the need for unity and differentiation, ensuring that consumers can easily identify both the overarching brand and the individual entertainment properties.

Recognizing the value of a unified visual brand statement

The benefits of creating a unified visual brand statement for multiple licensed entertainment brands extend far beyond aesthetics. At its core, a visually cohesive package design strategy serves to build equity with consumers, fostering trust, loyalty, and emotional connection.

First and foremost, a unified visual brand statement enhances brand recognition and recall. By presenting a consistent visual identity across the product line, package design creates a sense of familiarity and coherence that resonates with consumers. Whether browsing the aisles of a retail store or scrolling through an online marketplace, consumers can quickly identify products associated with the overarching brand, facilitating purchase decisions and driving brand loyalty.

Moreover, a unified approach to packaging design makes it easier for consumers to navigate the product line. In a crowded marketplace filled with competing brands and product offerings, simplicity and clarity are key. By streamlining the visual presentation of multiple entertainment brands under a single umbrella, package design reduces cognitive load and eliminates confusion, allowing consumers to focus on the products that align with their interests and preferences.

Beyond the realm of consumer perception, a unified visual brand statement also delivers tangible benefits for brand owners and licensee partners. By leveraging economies of scale and streamlining production processes, package design can reduce costs and increase operational efficiency. Furthermore, a unified visual brand statement enhances marketability, making it easier for brand owners to expand into new product categories, channels, and territories.

Case Study: The Power of Unified Package Design

Within the Marvel Comics Universe, each superhero franchise – such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor – possesses its own distinct visual identity, characterized by unique color schemes, logos, and iconography. However, all these franchises are united under the overarching Marvel brand, which boasts a consistent aesthetic characterized by bold typography, dynamic graphics, and a signature red-and-white color palette.

When developing packaging for Marvel consumer products, it’s crucial to strike a balance between honoring the individuality of each franchise and maintaining cohesion with the broader Marvel brand. This is achieved through strategic use of branding elements – such as incorporating franchise-specific colors and logos within the context of Marvel’s overarching design language – to establish a clear visual hierarchy that guides consumers’ eyes while navigating the product line.

Marvel’s approach to packaging design provides a compelling case study in the power of cohesive brand expression. Across a diverse range of merchandise – from action figures to apparel to collectibles – Marvel consistently applies its iconic design elements, such as the Marvel logo, character artwork, and thematic imagery inspired by the Marvel Comics Universe films.

For instance, consider the packaging for Hasbro’s Marvel Legends “Build a Figure” action figures. For the 2023 version, each figure is packaged in a black closed box structure with the Marvel Legends branding in the upper left corner, next to the hanging device die-cut. Everything that appears beneath this upper panel works within a consistent package design system. The front panel features a photo of the action figure, with a monochromatic action-oriented image serving as the background. Above the photo is the character’s name. Beneath the photo is the logo for the character’s franchise within the Marvel Comics Universe or for the Marvel film within which the character appears. The left side panel features a parts list while the right side panel features a large, full color image of the character. This approach to package design establishes a matrix of hierarchical information that’s easy for consumers to navigate within the retail environment.

Crafting a cohesive brand experience

In conclusion, developing packaging for multiple licensed entertainment brands under a single overarching brand requires a delicate balance of creativity and strategy. By establishing a clear visual hierarchy, building equity with consumers, and simplifying the shopping experience, brand owners can unlock the full potential of their product portfolio.

From fostering brand loyalty to driving sales and increasing market share, the benefits of unified packaging design are undeniable. By embracing the power of cohesive brand expression, brand owners can create a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of consumers, ensuring their products stand out on shelves and resonate with audiences for years to come.

Did you enjoy this month’s issue? Get on the mailing list!