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Author: Rowland Heming
Category: Packaging
Post date: November 13th 2013

Why Paper Packaging Sells

In this the third paper on the role of the packaging design in the branding process, I continue to explore the added value a package designer can bring to brand development.

If we start by tracing the story of a brand, we will find that over the years, a brand can be owned by different companies, managed by different people and designed by different designers during its’ lifetime. This implies that the only consistent relationship in the life of a brand is the relationship between the brand and the consumer! This is why I have stressed in my previous papers that any person, who works on an existing brand, must always take this relationship into account and be sure that they have a complete understanding of the feelings and expectations of existing consumers towards any brand, before undertaking any change.

This is the emotional link that we all exhibit towards brands; it is in itself ‘equity’. A valued equity that can be termed ‘an intangible equity’, because it lives, not in the tangible world, but only in a consumer’s feelings towards a brand, or in what they perceive the brand values to be. It is why, although brands need to, and should, evolve, such change should never be undertaken without prior consulting with consumers, or without gaining an understanding of the possible consequences of any change. The real truth is that branding is not just about a logo or a pack, but it’s about an emotional connection that exists between a brand and it’s consumer, a delicate connection that exists mainly in the mind and in the heart.

The way we form our opinions of a brand can of course also be rational and based on tangible elements, but it is the emotional and sometimes irrational or intangible connection, that creates a lasting link between a consumer and a brand. It is for this reason I believe, that rather than projecting purely functional benefits, the focus of brands is changing and many brands are moving from, what may have been in the past, a purely product focus to a broader emotional and attitudinal focus.

Today, brands are re-thinking their relationships with consumers and are re-assessing the product-based values of the past, and instead are moving towards new values that are relevant to their consumer’s current lifestyle, and that respond to ‘their’ desires and aspirations. Consumers demand that brands become a part of the way they live and the way they interact with society, and they look to brands to deliver a distinctive and memorable ‘experience’. We have moved from salesman’s basic pack design, with bright colours and big logos and loud product benefits, to a more personal communication, to story telling, to partnering with consumers, and to creating an emotional appeal and therefore a connection on a far deeper level. The goal for any brand today must be the creation of these intangible brand values, values that will lead to a desire, not just for the product, but also a desire to be part of the brand universe, ultimately therefore, delivering values that will promote trust and brand loyalty.

In the past, consumers got their brand exposure through ‘above the line’ activities but now, more and more it is in the retail environment that exposure to brands and purchase decision making is occurring, elevating the importance of the package to new heights.