The word ‘brand’ surfaces all the time. On a visceral level, we define it as a type of product by a particular company under a particular name. Even though this definition holds true, we must delve deeper in order to understand how to use your packaging to grab attention in this crowded environment of retail stores, bars, and digital world we live in.
The 3 Elements of a Brand:
1: Brand Story
Everyone remembers the guy at the party who told a great story. You may not remember everyone else, but that guy sticks in your mind. You naturally felt connected to him and like him. Stories are how we humans learn and make sense of our world. In order to stand out, you a strong brand story.
Your brand needs a compelling reason for people to care and pay attention to it. Your story is the most engaging way to connect with consumers. When we talk to winemakers or small batch distillers, they love to talk about their barrels, or their stills. This is not enough to make a compelling brand story. For consumers, and the trade, it’s usually not emotionally engaging. Use visual storytelling to tell them why they should care, and convert them into fans.
2: Physical embodiment of your brand
Back to our party metaphor: At that same party, there was a woman with a flattering red dress and a great smile. You noticed and remembered her too. You naturally wanted to know more about her. Your package is your brand’s first visual impression. It is literally the physical look, feel and shape of your brand. Your package is that great smile and arresting outfit for your brand.
3: How you exist in people’s mind
If we are familiar with a brand, we have images, feelings, sensations and ideas that pop into our heads when we see the brand image or hear its name. For example: Coca Cola is arguably the strongest brand in the world – all we have to do is say the name, hear the sound of coke being poured, or see a red can and we immediately recall taste sensations, and likely start to crave it.
Your Brand Will Exist Within a Context:
- Consider your audience: Who are they? Male? Female? Adventurous? Conservative? Income level? What is their age group? Where do they shop? Hang out?
- Competitive landscape: Who are the brands you’ll be shelved next to? What are their key communications?
- Selling Environment: Busy bar? Fine wine shop? Chain grocery?
Your Package has Three Important Jobs:
1: Grab their eye
On a super retail shelf, you want the consumer to choose your brand over all other options. You have to get their attention before you can engage them. When developing your package, consider iconic imagery, bottle shape, color, and label shape. What are YOUR opportunities for being different and appealing?
2: Hook them emotionally
People make purchases based on their emotional response to what they see. In order to engage your audience, we have to hook them with a story that engages their emotions. Your package introduces the possibility of an experience that enhances your audience’s lives!
3. Make them remember you
Once they find you, and you have their attention, don’t let them forget you. You worked hard to get noticed, so be easy to find and remember! The same tools that make you stand out on shelf also make you memorable. Utilize elements like iconic artwork, color, glass and closure, label shape and strong branding to make your brand stick.
Good Information Hierarchy:
Speaking of strong branding- if they can’t remember your name, you’re at a disadvantage. I want to emphasize the importance of information hierarchy on your package. I see a lot of mistakes out there where the product type is the biggest thing! Here’s the right way to prioritize:
1. Make your brand the first thing people read
2. Then product type – i.e. Gin, Whisky, Cabernet Sauvignon
3. Lastly, if you want, add some language about your unique point of difference
This is a brand we completed for an Australian client. In Australia, the craft spirits movement is just getting started, so small batch spirits is a new idea. The Swan Valley is a region with a rich agricultural heritage and many wineries. For this audience and market, handmade and regionality are powerful hooks. We used kraft paper, aged typestyles, typewriter type and hand written elements to say “made by hand in small batches,” as if the distiller made the labels himself by hand, just as he made the product. The flavors are unique, and we made those very important through color, graphic treatment and size. We prominently featured the “swan valley” communication by placing it front and center between the brand name and flavor name.