August 19, 2013

Hello Kitty Has a Lesson or Two for You

Hello Kitty Has a Lesson or Two for You

The Hello Kitty brand might not seem as though it is a paragon of simplicity and bare-bones design elements, but if we discount all of the attendant bows and stars and rainbows and magic wands and all of the other nauseating trappings of fairy-princess cuteness, we get an oblong cat-influenced head with a jaunty bow; maybe 20 brushstrokes at most.

However you may feel about the Sanrio line of office supplies, school supplies, housewares and clothing, the Hello Kitty symbol offers a pretty solid foundation upon which to build specialized designs for particular markets. You have your infant market, tween market, teen market, emo market and ninja market, all of which can find some Hello Kitty product that suits their personal tastes and lifestyles.

The Hello Kitty badge has come to symbolize an entire way of life within just a few basic elements; if you take away any of the elements; the whiskers, the ears, the nose or even the bow, you are pretty much left with nothing of any design note. This is how it should be, not only for graphic design, but for packaging as well.

Less Is More

When we mean “less,” we don’t necessarily mean less in terms of package add-ons; sometimes the amount of thought that goes into a package can lead to unnecessary complications.

You shouldn’t have to rack your brain to find some design trait that will make your package stand out from the crowd. Arbitrarily making your food can square rather than cylindrical might save on storage space for product transport as well as home use, but if you don’t include a pop top, or if the edges as sharp enough to be used for weaponry, or if the public doesn’t find the new shape sufficiently cool, then you will have spent boatloads of money having a manufacturer reconfigure its entire can-fabricating process for nothing.

The greatest and most unique innovations come from designs that provide a service (or eliminate a problem) that had heretofore been ignored. Whoever the genius was that first put tomato paste in tubes rather than cans, deserves a medal and a round of 5-minute applause as far as we’re concerned. Why? Because almost no one uses an entire can of tomato paste at once, requiring the user to scoop the remaining product into a refrigerator safe container. By putting the product in a tube, the product can be safely resealed and refrigerated until further use in the same package.

Ease of Use

This tip is short and simple and it should go without saying. When it comes to your product packaging, your best bet is a container that offers the greatest security and yet the fewest product access obstacles. Don’t make it complicated to open. ┬áComplicated packaging is the first step of a really bad opening experience.

Clean, Clear and Elegant

The most successful package designs are designs that are unique without being totally unfamiliar. One packaging trend that we wholly endorse is the stripping down of colors, graphics and materials to the barest elements. Having a package that is unafraid to sell the product rather than the brand conveys a stability and confidence in the product’s quality that is absent from packages that rely on complex devices to give the impression of sophistication.

Have you ever noticed that logos and packages from successful brands generally become simpler over time, rather than more complicated? This is because the product line has been proven to be reliable and useful to the public; the brand no longer has to desperately get consumers to notice it. Granted, this comes after years of exposure, but since new brands and products are going to be competing with established brands and products, it is important for a new product to seem as comfortable, streamlined and confident as the other products occupying the same shelf space.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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