How Good Packaging Shapes & Structural Design Drive Commercial Success [Effective Structural & 3D Design]
Structural Design if Used Correctly can Massively Influence Commercial Results!
While it’s no secret that good packaging design has a direct return on investment – many clients we work with in Asia, only look at labels and graphic design, but neglect a very powerful tool: structural design, or the shape of a pack.
Working with Specialists makes exploring Structural Design Easy
While it’s true there are not many agencies that understand design and branding as well as materials and the technical aspects of a production line and have the ability to engineer effective shapes – there are great opportunities that are less easy to copy that can be achieved over good structural design. Of course the team at Square44 can help you with this as we work with some of the best structural designers in the world – most based however outside of Asia and as we have a deep understanding of the technical aspects of doing effective structural designs.
Everything Starts with Bridging the Knowledge Gap
One thing that scares most clients away is a gap in technical knowledge and the perception that structural design is technically challenge and might impact the production line, where it is believed that any changes are costly, difficult and require a lot of technical skills. Often it’s simply a matter of us visiting the production plant and doing an audit of the production line and sitting together with a factory head or packaging manager for an hour to work out solutions that are manageable, easy to accomplish within the current production setup and not to difficult and costly to achieve.
10 Ways in which Structural Design can add Value (& Drive Sales!)
Well executed structural designs can help you win the commercial battles your brands are facing – there are many different strategies that can help you achieve commercial results and below we’ll highlight just a few of the many strategies that exist One of the advantages of investing in structural design is that your competition is likely to be much slower to adapt and copy or follow you than when you’re enhancing label graphics. This is partly due to the fact that there’s just a lack of experienced partners they’ll have access to that can help them with this and partly because of some of the (wrong) perceptions that structural change is difficult or impossible because of all the technical aspects involved.
1. Develop Shapes that get your Brand Noticed on Shelf
A very obvious opportunity for good packaging is to get noticed at shelf – drawing power, stopping power and pick-up power that enables a shopper that is on-the-go in auto-pilot mode to be disrupted by a unique or unusual shape that grabs attention wins half the battle of visibility and getting seen, which are the first steps towards getting sold. A good example is the design above which the Square44 team has done for Velvet bodywash – a brand that delivers softness and skin benefits because of its unique formulation. The pack shape represents the drop essence – which on shelf translates into a shape that is disruptive and noticeable
2. Making use of Secondary Packs to Billboard your Brand
A popular category in Europe where food categories are becoming very health-driven is the use of secondary packaging to create billboards on a shelf. While yoghurts are not effectively making use of it as they use the top of a 4-pack which often is not made-for-shelf, the above example of a squeeze fruit pulp brand that makes use of a horizontal secondary pack – allows for very good visibility by going vertical and doubling the height and width of the primary pack shapes which, if merchandized individually would hardly have any impact.
3. Let your Shape tell your Brand’s Story
Reinforcing your superior value proposition through structural design is a powerful accomplishment that structural design can help achieve. The above example shows a shampoo brand called Dandex we worked on which is a Scalp Care and Anti-Dandruff brand. Years of consumer conditioning through various ads, television commercials and other forms of scalp care communication have established a clean hair line as a signature for this category of hair care products. What better way to capture a clean hair line than by mimicking it in the bottle shape for Dandex, where the edge that is visible on the front of pack helps explain the story in a tactile way.
4. Use Structure to Refresh Category Perceptions (& Drive Sales!)
Many juice brands uses to be exclusively sold in slightly unimaginative tetra paks. When health trends picked up in Europe and fresh, natural cold pressed juices started to become the new category standard – brand started moving into clear plastic bottles, disrupting the category and at the same time showing the goodness of the juice and the squeezed pulps floating in the liquid – a category refresh that helped revitalize the juice segment and helped accelerate growth.
5. Easier Openings
One of the best examples in this category is probably Carlsberg’s Tuborg brand which introduced the ring-pull cap to make it easier to open a beer bottle. There are variations on this concept like twist off caps, but the simplicity makes you wonder why not every beer brand in the world has adopted this – why require an extra tool like a bottle opener when you can make consumption of product quicker and easier with an improved structural design solution for the closure of your bottle?
Together with Mondelez’ Trident brand we explored opportunities for the brand in China to engage with users in two different ways via structural pack opening options. The insight was that Chinese consumers are not ready yet for large pack formats containing many pieces of gum. In-car consumption or the ability to share from the bottle with colleagues in the office, required 2 different opening mechanisms – a small slot for individual use, with the ability to flip the cap open and let one tablet fall in your mind directly from the bottle versus a second larger opening that makes sharing easier with friends! A nice example of how structural packaging design and opening mechanisms can add value. In the same category the bag bowl where salad bags or chips bags turn into a bowl when opened in the correct way make sharing easier as well.
7. Better Dispensing
When Heinz launched its Squeeze bottle it solved two issues at once. The first was something the company used to advertise jokingly of it being the “slowest ketchup” and the second and probably more relevant issue consumers were having trouble with: the fact that a lot of ketchup was left over in the glass bottles – unable to reach it or get it out. Good structural design helped solve these issues, whilst retaining the iconic shape of the Heinz Bottle. A good packaging innovation that delivers a better user experience, thus adding superior value!
8. Drive Value through Shape in Retail or User Friendly Formats
The popular fridge pack for cans that is exactly made to fit a shelf in your refrigerator not only allows you to keep 12 cans of Coke or Beer cold at all times, they also add extra value by making it easier to reach in and quickly grab the next can, because of the smart way the pack is engineered. Another popular and related trend at the moment focuses on packs that are retail-ready – making it easier for supermarkets to merchandise products in the right way. Both are great examples of how secondary packaging formats can be used to add user value.
9. Let a Structural Designer Examine Material Cost Reduction Opportunities!
Although perhaps a little bit more technical than some of the above suggestions. Many brands use too much material. A good structural designer can help assess how much plastic you need for that bottle shape you’re trying to bring to life. They can also help reduce plastic if your bottle perhaps is using too much material.
10. Structural Afterlife
Danone developed this fun bottle shape that embodied the brand mascot of its Tiger. The packs were available in 2 colors and after you drank the milk from the bottle, most kids would keep the bottles to play with as a toy. A very nice idea that shows the brand has a good understanding of what kids are looking for, finding creative ways to connect and engage with them over structural packaging design.
Inspired? But in Need of Some Expert Help?
Hopefully these suggestions, help give you a different perspective on the value of structural packaging design. Structural design improvements that help you win more commercial battles are not impossible and are certainly not too technical or too complex – as long as you’re engaging experts that understand what to check, know the processes involved and understand design and engineering.