By Kat Reyes and Emily Page
“I’m a busy emerging brand - why the heck should I care about brand consistency? I only care about speed to market on artwork and keeping things cheap! And design consistency slows things down and takes a lot more money!”
We hear this said and implied at times when talking to product brand owners and we want to be sure EVERYONE understands how good BRANDING will move the needle of sales and value for your product!"
What is a brand for physical products?
For physical products, a BRAND is the collection of consistent visual elements used in print or digital packaging real estate that makes it distinct from others. This can include the font typeface and sizing, colors, shapes, logos, photograph filters or style motifs.
How is branding used for physical products?
At Pearl, we consider the true definition of “PACKAGING REAL ESTATE” to be any medium where you advertise and communicate with customers and move your product safely from shopping experience, to shopping cart to being opened and enjoyed.
The most commonly talked about way branding is used for products is on the artwork printed on your sell unit packaging like a box, bottle or pouch. Experienced packaging experts also will quickly think of secondary elements like display cases, point of purchase displays OR marketing price tags that help consumers buy.
But in our ever-developing digital retail culture there are broader definitions we need to consider of what packaging is... we believe the new “packaging real estate” includes your branded:
courier box (the package your product is mailed in)
social media post
These are NEW places consumers engage and consider buying your product which must be branded to get them to buy and be able to enjoy what you sell... Packaging real estate can be thought of as any way you wrap up your product and convince people to buy and effectively deliver it to them. The visual elements you repeat across these platforms to communicate with your customers is included in your “brand.”
Modern packaging real estate is like a digital grocery aisle that people browse before buying your product. It wraps up the product, helps it get purchased and placed in a shopping cart and gets your product there safely. And your brand needs to be visible and clear on ALL of these elements to effectively close a sale (short term) and build value (long term).
Why should I care if my brand is consistent?
Good branding must be consistent on the many platforms where you communicate with consumers because it creates recognition. When you’re consistent with your brand elements it takes on it’s own IDENTITY. Different visual elements on each product is the antithesis to a brand identity that is clear, recognizable and consistent. The key is conceptual uniformity across multiple SKU packaging in order for customer recognition to occur. It is what makes the difference between plain old graphic design and valuable branding.
What can a good brand do for me?
Consistency is crucial because it creates recognition on 3 different levels for a consumer, and each level of recognition has a VERY POSITIVE VALUABLE outcome for you and your sales.
Here we break it down with our Pearl Packaging Brand Recognition Ladder:
LEVEL 0: Consumers DON’T notice your product brand, because you look similar to other competing brands. This occurs if someone mistakes your product for another brand or doesn’t even notice it.
LEVEL 1: Consumers DO notice your product brand, and realize it is different from another product in the category. This occurs in retail when they see your product on the shelf OR in e-commerce when they perform an Amazon or other on-line search, discerning it while skimming for what to buy.
LEVEL 2: Consumers NOTICE your product brand, and REMEMBER additional information because of the visual elements they see. This can include remembering your product name, category, slogan, point of difference from competitors, generally recognized perceived value, or experience associated with the last time they tried or saw your product. This occurs in retail or e-commerce when they stop and recognize a feeling, thought or belief held about your product. This normally results in deeper inspection of your product and a subconscious question they will ask themselves - “I recognize that product and what it provides - do I want that?"
LEVEL 3: Consumers NOTICE your product brand, remember additional information and then FEELS SOMETHING about your product. This occurs in retail or e-commerce when people see your visual elements and associate your brand with an emotion they want to have, an identity they want to be, a lifestyle they want to live, a philosophy they subscribe to or a bigger cause they want to support. The result is a higher level of action and loyalty towards your product: making a purchase, leaving a review, posting a social media picture or video when they enjoyed your product or participating in your giveaways or calls to action. This step requires one additional layer which is a story, a purpose, a commitment - a defined ethos. You cannot communicate these pieces without clear and consistent visual elements.
Effective brand packaging will transport you from:
Eyes -> Mind -> Heart -> Hand
What will it take to create a LEVEL 3 Brand That Generates Action and Sales
That's why Kat Reyes always say “Beautiful Brands Take Heart.” Almost anyone can do graphic design but curating an effective brand that is memorable and stimulates a need to take action is a gift. This requires a very intuitive and skilled designer who is able to listen to a brand owner’s expertise on their product, consumer and competitive landscape, and transcribe that into visual elements that will consistently communicate with the mind and heart of a consumer.
A good designer will break things down into two steps when curating your powerful brand:
Understand the target consumer, their needs and how the product addresses those needs.
Define visual elements to communicate how the product will meet those target consumer needs.
To accomplish this, they must walk a brand owner through a BRAND IDENTITY PROCESS to define a BRAND IDENTITY GUIDE which will layout instructions or rules that must be followed for a consistent “look” and “ethos.” That Brand Identity Guide is very valuable because it will allow you to quickly scale the visual messaging across your entire packaging real estate, garnering consistency over the sell unit packaging and e-commerce platform. It will also act as a blueprint for future designers and marketing employees who can use it to continue to build your messaging.
Level 3 branding isn’t easy and there are no shortcuts. Identity is meant to develop over time because it’s important to continually communicate with consumers and evolve with them. Cultivating your product to produce an emotional resonance is your brand’s personality. You want your customers to connect with your product like they would a lifelong friend through dynamic, layered branding. This conscientious investment of time and money in your physical product brand will yield recognition, sales and ultimately the increased value of your company.
NEXT STEPS FOR YOUR COMPANY:
What level would you say your brand is at on the Pearl Packaging Brand Recognition Ladder?
Do you have a brand identity guide that your team can use to guide the design of packaging real estate (sell unit, website, Amazon, social media, marketing campaigns, sales materials, trade show booth design)?
What are the areas of PACKAGING REAL ESTATE where you are not currently consistent and can improve?
What could you gain if your company or product will earn if you invest in that consistency?
MORE ABOUT KAT REYES
Kat Reyes is VP of Brand Identity a Pearl Resourcing and is highly intuitive to her clients ethos and what will work in the market. Passionate about building practical, effective brands, changing the world through social influence, and running around the beach with an amazing daughter and two doggies. To connect follow her here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kat-reyes-design/
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