We are a visual species. We process and identify the things we see in milliseconds and create lasting memories and impressions from this information. That’s why packaging is one of the most important aspects of marketing. Shoppers make deep connections with the packaging design of their favorite brands. What would Coca-Cola be without its distinctive white script and red packaging? Would Frosted Flakes truly be great without its distinctive spokestiger? Would Tiffany & Co. be the same without its distinctive blue box? To consumers, the packaging is part of the product – it’s recognizable, informative and enjoyable to look at.

However, change is constant, and that includes your consumers’ tastes, too. A packaging design that resonated for them when they found your product years ago might not make a splash now, and that’s ok. Redesigning packaging is a natural part of a brand or product’s evolution. But it can be fraught with potential errors, like losing brand equity, market share or customers. Nobody wants to be Tropicana, the orange juice brand that lost millions of dollars to a redesign that eliminated the most distinctive elements of the brand. 

Is it time for your product’s packaging design refresh? We’ve got a few questions that will help you make the best choice for your brand without risking your customers or position in the market.

1. Redesign or Refresh?

Just because you feel the need to redesign doesn’t mean you have to change everything: A packaging refresh rather than a full redesign is also an option. Sometimes, even the smallest adjustments can have big ramifications. If you’re not sure which path to go down, we have a few recommendations:

You should redesign if…

  • Your production costs are too high.
  • Your product is getting damaged in transit.
  • Your product has had issues with theft.

These are all excellent reasons to return to the drawing board. There are also multiple ways to deal with these issues, too. If product damage is a regular issue, it’s probably time to invest in something a little sturdier or with padding. If you’ve been dealing with theft, for example, a clamshell would deter would-be shopliftersWhatever you decide, if you’re planning on changing everything, bring your packaging’s most distinctive design elements over so your customers won’t lose your new packaging on the shelf. 

If you don’t have to deal with the issues mentioned above, you should refresh if…

  • It’s been a few years since you changed your packaging – but not too many. (See #4.)
  • Major structural changes aren’t needed for your packaging, but it needs something to ‘pop’.
  • You want to change more superficial aspects of your current packaging, such as outdated photography, copy or color.

If you don’t need a drastic overhaul, you can use your packaging’s color scheme, logo and/or other small details to give your customers variations on your ‘classic’ packaging. While giving your packaging a makeover is a great way to inject new life into a product, don’t lose sight of the charm that attracted your customers in the first place. Don’t let go of the emotional connection your customers have with your packaging.

2. Identify Your Targets

Before going further, take a moment to identify what you ultimately want for your product’s packaging. Do you want to increase your market share and reach new customers? Maybe you made major changes to your product and want your new packaging to reflect them. You may just want to solidify your positioning in the market and get in front of more eyeballs. Perhaps you just want to be more competitive. Whatever reasons you might have will inform your choice. There are also a number of best practices in packaging design that can help you make decisions.

3. Avoid Information Overload

When you’re looking at a product’s packaging, you’re expecting to see features, descriptions and facts that might persuade you to purchase. However, as attention spans grow ever shorter, it can be very easy to overdo it and overwhelm your customers in the process. When it comes to packaging design, less is more. Be selective with what information you share on your package, especially on its primary display panel. Sharing the most pertinent information will make it easier on your customers to process and understand. Sharing too much information will cause your potential customers to skip your product in search of something more succinct. If you don’t get the main ideas and benefits within three to five seconds of looking at your product, it’s time to edit.

4. Timing is Everything

While the basic principles of design remain constant, the way they’re implemented will constantly change. Because of this, trends in design and style cycle around, with elements coming into and going out of fashion with little rhyme or reason. Timing is variable, but if it’s been about five or six years since you’ve thought about your packaging, you’re just about due to take another look at it. In that time, your competitors have probably changed their packaging, providing innovations that could guide you. Things have probably changed on your end, too, and you might be wondering why you chose the original font, wording or design choices that you did. Think of your packaging as being in a constant state of change, while keeping an eye on your competitors, innovations and trends. In other words, you don’t have to get ready for a packaging redesign if you stay ready.

Refreshing your packaging is a natural part of any product’s life cycle, one that could create buzz and opportunity for your brand. We don’t have to tell you how important it is – that coveted moment of truth can hinge on a product’s packaging. When you’re going down this road, we hope this article will prepare you to make the next move with all the tools you need.

Got other questions about the process? Feel free to contact us here at Porchlight, and we’ll be happy to help with whatever needs you may have.

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