The business of selling products and marketing those products to customers is a more primal art than you may think. Our stores are littered with catchy slogans and well-thought-out sayings, but at the end of the day writing does little to sway the consumer’s mind.
Social experiments have tracked the eye movements of customers while they shop, to reveal that customers buy on instinct. They see what the product looks like and don’t bother to read what it says.
Knowing that customers only look at your product and ignore the words, you need a look that sets you apart from the crowd. Look to color and to shape.
Strong, angular shapes will make your product stand out and create visual separation from the endless row of similar products, already populating the aisle. Your shape is a consideration both for the design elements on the package and the silhouette of the package itself. A soft, round curve may be pleasing to the eye, but does that match your product? If yes, that’s a start, but does that curve make you stand out.
Say you make baby products. You create soft shapes in warm pastels. You want the parent buying the product to feel a sense of calm and safety. It matches the product, but does it stand out against the giant selection of other baby products on the aisle? Probably not. Matching the visual design to the product isn’t enough. You also have to stand out.
Ask a Toddler
If a child, too young to read, can find your product based only on the packaging, then you have a stand out design. The best package design stands out on a basic level that operates beyond words. The trick to getting such an effective design is including definitive visual brand. If your young daughter, who can’t yet read, to go to the drink aisle and get the one with the white swoosh on top of red, she’ll bring back a Coke. That is a definitive package. In many cases, that definitive icon will stay with customers as they age, creating a long-lasting emotional impression.
We know consumers don’t act on what a package says. They act on how it looks. More importantly, though, they act on how that visual impression makes them feel.
People commonly associate many brands with strong emotions. Our favorite products remind us of fun family events or of the holidays. This is on purpose. Brands that successfully achieve this emotional pull have deftly associated their product to the holidays by visual means.
Oreos are a great example! Once a year, Oreos push out a limited run of white chocolate covered cookies. They’re white and come in a package designed with Christmas decorations. That’s two purely visual cues that tie the holiday to the brand. Now, in the right set of circumstances, if we see something related to Christmas, we think of white Oreos.