Retailing is no longer about just selling a product or service – it has evolved to become about customer engagement. Companies are using every armament in their arsenal to make this engagement possible and appealing.
One of them is the design of product packaging and logo design. These are not mere static graphics, but can act as a significant communication medium and an important factor that clinches the deal between the retail shelf and the customer’s shopping cart. Given the plethora of choices available to buyers, packaging design helps products get better noticed amidst clutter. This is all the more in the case of product launch – while repeat purchase will depend on the product quality, for the customer to initially pick it up, the packaging has to do a good job, Saswata Das, Founder Director, Almond Branding explains to Vinita Bhatia.
How does packaging design of retail products influence consumer buying decisions?
A good packaging design should be able to reflect the brand’s philosophy clearly and lucidly to the consumer. An effective design should convey what the brand stands for, who it is meant for and its key differentiator, giving clear answers to a shopper whether to buy the product.
Recently, Almond Branding helped a new entrant in the dairy category launch ghee under the ProVedic brand name in a highly cluttered market. One would find stacks of ghee jars and tins in supermarkets, and most have the same flavour, design codes and similar propositions. The only way to differentiate ProVedic was to make packaging design do its work.
We championed the idea of ‘Traditional Vedic recipes for Today’s India’, highlighting the product’s holistic health benefits making it an essential for Saatvik living in a modern, active world. The result was a mix of modern and traditional design that feels distinct yet familiar. It drove good round of first trials within the initial launch months.
How can static elements like logo, brand name and design help build customer engagement and brand loyalty?
The first step of building a strong brand is to ensure identification of the brand with the target audience and design can play an immense role here. Before we can create engagement, build awareness and drive loyalty, it’s necessary to define the brand identity and subsequently develop the visual identity. This, in turn, helps to link the brand – the name, logo, symbol, icons, etc. – to certain memory associations.
Humans are visual creatures and it’s easier for us to form strong, favourable and unique associations about a brand when we are exposed to its visual identity. This is not limited to the logo but the entire system which also includes colours, fonts, forms, shapes, icons, tone, etc.
Hence, I always recommend creating strong Visual Assets, for e.g. The Amul girl, which are like tools that can help identify your brand even when your logo is not in sight. On constant and consistent exposure, over a period of time, consumers are able to identify the brands through these Visual Assets and brand elements. The idea is to develop such assets and elements, which can communicate the right brand story and are able to also communicate the point of differentiation with competition.
With customer experience becoming a key competitive advantage, can retail brands use design elements to transform how they do business?
In a world where every brand is trying to get a pie of the buyer’s mindspace, customer experience becomes an essential competitive advantage to drive brand recall and loyalty. A brand name and a logo can be a good starting point to build a brand. However, we want a consumer to not only see your brand but to experience it.
We recently designed the ambience of a new food outlet format for Amul, called Café Amul. The idea was to make the brand come alive for the youth at the outlet and engage with visitors rather than just putting luscious food shots all over the place.
We created a visual style reflecting contemporary design trends as well as depicting the essence of Amul’s tagline ‘Taste of India’. The colour scheme chosen was vibrant, a modern typography style and a tone of voice, friendly enough to attract the youth. A consistent style was developed across signage, wall facia, menu board, leaflets, social media posts, danglers and others helped in defining a consistent set of visual assets for the brand Café Amul and an engaging customer experience.
Some brands like Coke are leveraging personalised packaging for better customer engagement. Is this a viable proposition for all retail domains, including FMCG, apparel, makeup and cosmetics, etc?
Personalized packaging is the future! It’s always going to be a delight. With the advent of digital printing in packaging, the possibilities will be infinite. In the future, personalized packaging will become one of the easiest and cheapest ways to build strong and engaging relationships with consumers, and trigger conversations on user-generated media.
Whether it’s viable for all retail domains, depends on how smartly you use the concept and tweak things as per the specific needs of the domain. It’s only a matter of time before the economies work more in favour of such technologies so as to make it more commonplace rather than a distant dream.
In a world where customers are inundated with information, how can brands develop compelling and relevant messaging, while managing their marketing ROI?
With increasing options to choose from as well as reducing attention spans, it’s becoming more and more important to have simple yet precise and distinct messaging for the brand’s story to be conveyed to the consumer. They will love your brand if you can make it more convenient for her to understand the product and make a decision if it’s for her.
Let’s take the case of Nihar. In its journey of modernizing itself, it intended to introduce a new variant: Nihar Naturals Extra Care Hair fall control oil – a light oil, a problem solution yet a premium variant. The objective was to cater to the unmet need of the younger, modern women who faced the challenges of hair fall due to lifestyle changes.
The new variant had a mix of five seeds within the cap that would enrich the oil every time it’s poured. Our task was to compliment the packaging innovation, through the mode of design and convey the uniqueness of the product through simple yet effective messaging.
It was imperative to drive home the fact that the seeds would increase the oil’s potency every time it enters the cap when the bottle is titled. To connote this nutritive action, we termed the ‘Activ-Seeds’ term, which was later trademarked by Marico. We built a three-step ritual that would imbibe the new process into the daily habit of our consumer.
Since putting hard metrics on ROI on design is abstract, how can retailers determine the value for coming up with new design philosophies?
They say “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. For some modes of design like design for web, measuring success is much easier and obvious but for others it’s a complicated affair. ROI on design hence becomes a debatable yet critical topic.
More often than not, the design process solves a problem – makes things simpler, easier or better. Now if we are sure that the design has made an impact we should be able to measure the nature of impact. If we can’t visualize and record the difference it made, I would believe the design wasn’t good enough.
It’s more to do with choosing the right metrics to determine the value of new design philosophies. The return on design might not always be a ‘hard’ metric like sales, footfall or market share. It can be a ‘softer’ metric like consumer perception, brand imagery or awareness. Retailers can look for some of the more qualitative metrics for determining the value of upcoming design changes, like brand imagery, reputation, consumer perception, consumer satisfaction, etc.