Standout Packaging Design | Jam & Co Design

By Ian Segail | Blog | 2 Jan 2020 |

You know that old saying a picture is worth a thousand words? Well...how about a video? Last month we wrote about how great packaging designers create packs that snag attention at the shelf. Watch this really cute video showing a little girl dancing to an old church choir and find out just what she can teach us about standout packaging design.

The video says a whole lot more than a thousand words.

There is an ancient Chinese expression which goes, "Hearing something a hundred times isn't better than seeing it once."  You will only need to watch this video once to understand how to make an impact on the retail shelf.

It's so easy to conform to the traditional demands of FMCG packaging, yet when we take a calculated risk and step out from inside the socially acceptable conformist box...then we have a chance to create an impact.

What a little girl dancing to an old church choir can teach us about packaging design.

Risk aversion "the single biggest innovation killer."

Which marketer doesn't relish the idea of innovation?

  • Who doesn't wish to get ahead of the curve?
  • Who doesn't secretly harbour thoughts of breaking free from the crowd?
  • Who doesn't want to innovate?
  • What company doesn't spruik "INNOVATION" as a key to their future success?

All of that said, the big issue with innovation is that sometimes the INNOVATION fails! Most companies, and therefore their employees, are risk-averse by nature. Psychology researchers have shown that most people fear of losing $100 far more than the hope of gaining $150. Fear of loss is a far stronger motivator than the chance for gain. Many Brand Marketers tend to play it safe rather than take on the risks of putting themselves and their products "out there". Of course, they will say they are merely putting the best interests of the company first. From their view point and senior management perspective, they have a far wider lens and a better grasp of the bigger context where there is less appetite for risk. Then of course for too many Brand Marketers today, innovation means putting their job at risk.

Risk management... What if it bombs?

It's all very well to show a video of a little girl dancing to an old church choir, but there is such a thing as RISK MANAGEMENT. Risk management strategy is all about mitigating the risks that present the greatest threat whilst accepting those risks which are within the company’s risk tolerance capacity. Risk management typically involves:

  • scanning of the current market environment
  • identifying all the risks of change and...
  • evaluate the impact of the risk on the company goals and operations.

Most Brand Marketers only have a limited appetite for risk within their corporate environment and whilst some may secretly wish to all-out embrace risks, far too many will "shut shop" and button down the hatches when it comes to putting themselves and their branded products out there in the public eye. So how do great packaging designers design for innovation whilst mitigating risk?

  1. They will challenge a Brand Marketer's "sacred cows.

A sacred cow as defined by the Cambridge dictionary is "a belief, custom, etc. that people support and do not question or criticise. Some of the biggest obstacles to product development and packaging design are the well-entrenched and established mindsets, customs, practices and beliefs within companies, their teams and their branding protocols. They are the “sacred cows”. Great packaging design begins with curiosity. The designer will ask  “What makes xxxxxxxxxxx like that?” When the answer comes back with something like, “Not too sure, it's always been done like this….”, Then they know they have just hit on a sacred cow. Usually, there are good underlying intentions, points of view and values that exist behind these sacred cows.

  • Great designers will find out what they are and with "all due respect" to them challenge them for relevance and effectiveness in the market place today. Are they still effective? What limits have they created?
  • Great packaging designers will put their 'innovative and "stretch' designs into the context of the Brand Marketers overall category in an effort to “narrow the gap.” They will draw comparisons between what other companies are doing in the category and make it clear as to why they’re doing it, and point out the successes and failures and learnings from the competitors' effort. In this way, what can often seem like a huge leap and actually look like just a small step, once put into proper context. (This works especially well when the executive team has  a lot of commercial respect for your competition and the jumps they have made themselves.)
  • Great designers will unpack and challenge the assumptions behind all decisions. Are the assumptions still valid?

Letting go is easier to say than it is to do

At some point or another, we would have heard or come across the Buddhists philosophy and practice of "letting go". Whilst is probably true that too many of us hold on to our sacred cows long past their use-by date, even if they are still not serving us any more, implementing the practice of letting go is a whole lot harder than it would be perceived to be on the surface. Beyond courage, letting go of corporate sacred cows takes strategy! Today all companies are desperately seeking a competitive edge. They are looking to unlock the secrets to innovating, particularly at an affordable cost and more importantly contain the RISK. The only way through this quagmire is for Brand Marketers to employ a baby steps strategy. Here's where you push the boundaries strategically, one-by-one.

Strategic Brand & Product Evolution

An evolutionary design strategy is a very effective strategy to combat private label products. In fact, we’ll go as far as to say that an Evolutionary Brand/Product plan cannot fail. You can read more and why HERE By creating a Strategic Brand Evolution plan you get to stay one or two clicks ahead of your competition and you strategically pull your brand and your reactionary risk averse management "into the future“. This is done with a strategically well thought out brand evolution and packaging evolutionary plan. You can read more about the why's and wherefores of this strategically innovative way to forge ahead of your competitors by reading HERE. So what can we learn from a little girl dancing to an old church choir about packaging design innovation? YES you need to be different to stand out. BUT you don't have to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  • Question your sacred cows and assumptions
  • Implement a push the boundaries strategically, one-by-one plan.


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