The wisdom of an owl, with the eye of a magpie
and the arms of… an octopus?!

June 17, 2019

Packaging is just another format or touchpoint for a brand to reach its audience. Right?

Yes, however it also requires the juggling skills of an octopus to ensure that everything works together seamlessly. There aren’t many other design tasks that require so much detailed thought for each square cm of space.

The usual considerations around audience, sector, product, competitors and ambitions first need to be thoroughly investigated. Then comes the ‘feel’ with aesthetics, format and usability. Mix all that with the practical concerns of production, finishing, distribution, on-line ‘thumbnail’ appeal, shelf space, environmental concerns and compliance and you already have a lot to think about.

But we also need to create the on-pack hierarchy, by which customers will navigate the range. How will we lead the eye around such a small area to communicate all that there is to say, in a priority order of importance? When the number of SKUs is large, the way in which we segment the range into smaller ‘families’ (by ingredient, type, function or result) and what features we use to do this (colour, format, image or messaging) become increasingly important. Get it wrong and it will be hard to add to the range at a later date. Get it right and everything becomes easier and more intuitive.

We’ve recently been thinking about the nuances of on-pack information rather a lot as we re-designed the entire Boots food range and refreshed the branding for QMS Medicosmetics.

We’ll never find the right systematic approach, as there isn’t one. Understanding the rules is as important as breaking them when the time is right. But what we know for certain is that we love the juggle, we love the different and complementary skills that come together in our packaging projects and we love it when multiple considerations and decisions come together in a way that looks natural and effortless.