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February 3, 2016

5 Ways Your Packaging Gives Your Brand a Bad Name

5 Ways Your Packaging Gives Your Brand a Bad Name

You’ve worked hard to make your brand relevant – don’t let your packaging repeatedly slap your efforts in the face.

Your brand is everything. It is the life’s blood of your company. It is the heart, skeletal structure, respiratory system, hormonal output, brain, and hairstyle. Your brand determines whether your business will be successful in the big online dating site that is the national marketplace. And like the world of online dating sites, it’s your package that is noticed first.

Company branding is a delicate enterprise. You have to balance your business’ product, culture, ideals, goals, and target audience in a single, fairly evocative aesthetic, which should be malleable enough to transfer to the full spectrum of your marketing efforts. It might sound difficult, but let us assure you… it is. So, have a protein shake, build up your strength, and prepare to recognize how your package design is failing your brand so spectacularly.

Your packaging makes your brand seem out-of-touch.

What does your consumer base want? How have your customers evolved throughout the life of your product? Have cultural tastemakers like Rachel Ray and PewDiePie endorsed or rejected your packaging structure? Do you even have the slightest idea who tastemakers are?

While they might have once been attracted to glamour and shelf appeal, if they are now demanding authenticity, your package design should adjust accordingly. Furthermore, if your consumers are using your product in different ways, your package has to reflect that. Don’t let your product, brand, or package stagnate.

Your packaging makes your brand seem cheap.

There is a certain charm to unadorned, simple, and unpretentious packaging. You definitely don’t want your customers to suspect that your product is all flash and no substance. However, you really don’t want your product’s efficacy to be compromised by a package that seems to have been designed by toddlers.

There are numerous ways that your packaging can make your brand seem cheap. Packaging that is overburdened with enthusiastic product descriptions (avoid phrases ending with exclamation points at all costs); packaging that is insubstantial or flimsy; and packaging that features poor graphics can all make your brand seem as though it is putting out a product that is less than stellar.

Your packaging makes your brand seem desperate

Beer and boutique hot sauce bottles are the guiltiest of this particular offence. We understand that the market for both products is highly competitive, but would your really want to subject your digestive tract to any of these products?

We have nothing against cuteness and cleverness, but although your company culture might be youthful, vibrant, and edgy, the customer can’t taste edginess. Remember that both your brand and your package have to make customers want and trust your product.

Your packaging makes your brand identity unclear.

Sneaky, trying to siphon customers off of a particular brand by simply copying their package design. This might be a short-term solution, but there is the irritating matter of lawsuits.

A competitor might have had great success with a package design concept, but that doesn’t mean it should be appropriated by your brand. If your brand is going to have any kind of market staying power, it has to be unique.

Your packaging makes your brand look boring.

Remember how we cautioned you against package design desperation? Try not to let the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction. There is a middle ground between ridiculous and ignorable.

Now, simplicity doesn’t necessarily equal boring – don’t be afraid of a stripped-down aesthetic. But your minimalist aesthetic should still be bold and clear. Steer clear of pale colors with no contrast, packaging structure that blends in with other products on the shelf, or packaging that doesn’t make the purpose of your product clear.

Although these missteps are avoidable, it does take a bit of nimbleness. If you are clear about your brand identity, then successful packaging design will be that much easier. Packaging, in branding, is clearly one of the most effective weapons in your marketing arsenal. However, like all weaponry, it must be kept clean, well-maintained, and loaded in order to be fully functional.

author

by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

Purposefully selective, we work with brands that want to stand out and also stand for something.

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