We have worked with quite a few consumer packaged good companies that have sought our help in simplifying their brand identity. One of the places where we have seen words and graphics become overwhelming and confusing is on product packaging. The primary error is to put too much information on the package, making it very "busy" and difficult to communicate a clear message.
The most complicated packaging we have seen includes the following:
- Parent (endorser) brand name and identity
- Product category brand
- Product line sub-brand
- Brand identity elements and other distinctive graphics
- Branded special ingredients
- A list of product benefits
- Size information
- Ingredient information
- Other information required by law or industry regulation
- A photograph of the product in use
- Some indication of good, better or best quality level
- Pricing information
As you might imagine, this type of package design makes it extremely difficult for a consumer to find what he or she is looking for. In package design, less is more.
First, all packages within the brand family should bear the same identity elements. Consistent color blocking is important. The graphics should shout what brand it is. Second, no more than two levels of branding should ever appear on a package. Third, effective brand positioning focuses on one or perhaps two benefits at the most. Ingredient brands may be featured if they powerfully reinforce the brand's primary benefit/point of difference. Photographs or visuals can be highly effective. Legally required information should be present, but on the back or side of the package and in smaller print. The price should be visible on the package, the shelf or both.
The bottom line is to keep the package design simple. It should communicate the following roughly in this order:
- What brand is this?
- Why should I choose this brand over another brand?
- Will this perform the function I need it to?
- How much will I have to pay for this?