Brand Packaging: 3 Things A CEO/CMO Must Understand

Guest AuthorApril 4, 20112462 min

As principal of a brand identity firm for 15+ years, I have too often seen how brand-packaging redesigns fail due to inherent client subjectivity. And, unlike brand advertising, which is readily malleable, “brand dress,” the most long lasting of all marketing media, must remain competitive and relevant for on average three years.

Still brand packaging is the most potent weapon in the CMO’s arsenal in the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers on the actual playing field – the retail shelf; the last moment of truth where ROI is tracked daily!

But by following three steps, your brand packaging will be seen (visual), felt (emotional) and understood (rational) in the five seconds or less that your consumer takes to select your brand…or to pass it over.

1. Get The Right Resource Onboard

Ensure that your RFQ process removes politics and potential favoritism to actually uncover the firm most appropriate for the project. Then ask for proof of trademark/infringement insurance, while inquiring that a trademark/trade dress attorney is connected to your firm of choice. Only in this manner can you trademark newly developed brand assets and protect them from private label copycat activity.

2. Understand The Brand’s Current Communications (Visual Vocabulary)

Take the time to be certain that brand management understands its’ brand equities/assets before re-staging. Then utilize the latest pre-design research tools, such as color crayon research, brand personification and structure share, to determine which assets may be effectively moved forward, which need be left behind and which are ripe for reinvention. Have your branding consultant complete a SWOT analysis of your category and cross-category from a color/shape/symbol/words perspective to discover the visual /verbal holes that must be plugged while creating a brand USP and RTB that is apparent within your competitive set.

3. Design The Brand To The Same Hierarchy The Mind Retains Visual Information

Eventually the new brand dress will arrive at your corner office for final approval. Examine it under the lens of the SWOT analysis, which describes how the mind responds to packaging: color is first (the red and white milk, the copper and black batteries); shape is second (this can be structure and holding shapes/letterform shapes); symbols are third; words last.

Look for visual shorthand in your restaged brand that communicates the key attributes with the fewest words feasible. Consumers are not reading as they course the aisles in the 17 minutes they shop per week, rather they respond to the communication value of a brand’s colors, shapes and symbols to inform them! Finally, ask to see your brand in a competitive shelf mockup – not just on your conference room table.

Follow these three steps to create a refreshed brand dress that will emotionally connect with consumers to produce that happy ca-ching at checkout.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Terri Goldstein, The Goldstein Group

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Guest Author


  • Luis London

    April 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Totally Agree. Getting the right resource is an absolute thing to do.

    Understanding the brand’s communications is a must, getting to know the culture to be able to show and pass that culture to others is essential.


  • Chris Houchens

    April 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    color is huge. Sensation transference from the package attaches to the product inside. Studies have shown that when orange flavored drinks are not packaged in an orange container, consumers don’t think they taste very “orange-y”

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