Aug 04

Total communication

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Design | Typography | Uncategorized

In order to achieve maximal impact for least money is, as this article explains, not a complicated matter. However, in practice, very few brands achieve this today as the communication is split up between different units, departments or managers. Furthermore, a communication coordinator with decision rights is seldom at hand.

The following illustration gives an overview of how each medium plays a different role to achieve maximum brand and product impact, i.e. sales!

There is a common belief that a design guideline (often with tenths of pages) laying down strict rules on how to use the logotype, the icon, etc. is the solution to efficient communication. I have a very different opinion based upon half a century producing packaging, POS and advertising material for FMCG companies.

My belief is based on the following 5 reasons:

  1. the market situation is constantly changing;
  2. we regularly learn new working methods which will help to improve communication;
  3. technology gives us constantly new materials, media, etc.;
  4. what we thought was a good solution may turn out to be less good than we thought;
  5. all manuals/guidelines are correct on an average, but often wrong in particular. One market is seldom a copy of another.

How to design a manual will be the subject of a separate article.

Each medium has its own rules and limitations. One medium may be the best to promote branding, another medium to promote a product. Here is a quick analysis of what different media can do:  Outdoor, TVC, weekly and daily print, direct mail, website, consumer service, point-of-sale and packaging. I have left out media like sponsoring and sampling as I have very little experience in these fields of activities.

Outdoor (buildings, trucks, busses, etc.)
I believe it is here we make the most mistakes as we do not accept the limits of our brain. We believe that the client/consumer/customer is interested in what we are doing and we therefore overestimate the impact our poster has. It goes without saying that the role of an outdoor campaign or single unit poster is to tell the consumers that we (as a brand) exist … nothing else. We can possibly add an illustration of our product, but that is all. However, 80% of all posters carry today considerably more information.

TVC (be it a short spot or a cinema commercial)
Here we need to

  • surprise the viewer, i.e. be different to other brands;
  • ‘hammer’ in both brand and product in order to be remembered;
  • be as emotional as possible.

If the pack is shown in the commercial it cannot be the complete pack design. It must be a simplified version. Furthermore, it does not necessarily need to be the complete pack, part of it or the key visuals are enough.

Weekly press advertising
Lots of time, lots of space! Tell a story! Make your product the star, try an interesting layout. Reduce text. Do not duplicate anything! Have the reader tear out the ad and you have a greater chance to sell.

Daily press advertising
Simplify to the maximum. Daily press is for news, ads have less impact, but still they remind the reader of your existence. Make your ad interesting through

  • a catching layout;
  • amplifying your USP and strongest possible branding.

In-store sampling
Be generous! Combine with a campaign to amplify the effect. Find people with smiling faces!    If possible, simplify pack design to include SALES COPY on your sample pack.

Consumer Service Contact
Best voice, best voice, best voice!

Sell products, not brands.

Point-of-sale material
Product before brand. Amplify USP! Call-to-action (visual, verbal or symbolic) is a MUST. Involve the consumer by personalizing the message. Be different and be simple! Brand is here less of importance as consumers buy products, not brands.

Shelf stopper
USP/RTB only, nothing else. Interesting execution and design as if it were a real bargain.

Package design
To be best in class, follow these 5 advice:

1.     simplify front panel to a maximum;

2.     design back panel as an advertisement or newspaper page, i.e. invite for reading;

3.     think material and shape before graphic design;

4.     amplify contrast !

5.     surprise with interesting layout.

Packaging is no doubt the most efficient medium as it contains the product. A great package design even enhances the product and makes it more valuable.

The advice in this article are in no way complete, but they try to convince the reader that there is not one solution that fits all media. To reach maximal impact which is translated in efficiency, i.e. economy, be willing to even modify the visual identity if this leads to more impact and does not harm the brand identity longterm (Toblerone is a good example).

Good luck and great sales!

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