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The Language of Packaging
By: Aniko Hill
Posted: June 7, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.
- A lifestyle brand embodies the values and personality of its audience and speaks to them in a targeted and authentic way. In packaging, this is particularly important as the look and feel of the package greatly influences the purchase decision.
- There is no formula for how to connect to consumers emotionally in packaging, but there are three main components of communication that should work together to create a strong brand presence: the visual, the verbal and the tactile.
When building any brand, one of the first and most critical steps to take is to identify the target audience. In addition to looking at basic demographics, it is also essential to conduct thorough research to understand the primary and secondary audience’s lifestyle and behaviors. This valuable information is the foundation to the brand development process—without it, it is impossible to create a meaningful connection to that market and build a successful lifestyle brand.
A lifestyle brand embodies the values and personality of its audience and speaks to them in a targeted and authentic way. In packaging, this is particularly important as the look and feel of the package greatly influences the purchase decision. In many cases, the packaging is the only touch point a consumer sees before making a purchase. If a package can successfully communicate the brand positioning in a meaningful way, the target consumer will automatically be drawn to the product.
The key to creating a successful lifestyle brand, no matter what the touch point, is to connect with the audience on an emotional level. This is particularly important for female-targeted brands, as women are sensorial in nature. For the brand, this means transcending the functional benefits (i.e. ingredients) to communicate the emotional and self-expressive benefits—or how the product or brand actually makes her feel. Particularly in the beauty industry where many products are “apples to apples,” if the audience can make an emotional connection to the brand, then this can be the difference in standing out in the crowded marketplace. If the brand matches the audience’s values, they will more likely gravitate toward it—and will pay more for the product.
Communicating benefits, whether functional or emotional, is easier said than done on packaging. In most cases, there is a very small billboard space to tell the full story. Additionally, there is often no control on where the product will be merchandised on the shelf next to competitors. For this reason, it is essential to conduct competitive research to learn what the brand’s competitors are doing visually, how they are communicating to consumers and what physical packaging trends may be taking place. By conducting a thorough audit of the target consumer and the competition, a brand positioning can be established that will act as the foundation for the brand and help to uniquely represent the brand across all brand touch points, including packaging.