Successful packages are much like successful people. The better looking and the more functional they are, the more successful they will be. Some consider packaging to be an arbitrary or subjective process and though it is creative, it is certainly not arbitrary. Packaging design is the perfect balance of beauty and brains and is achieved through a rather scientific process that embodies psychology, math, and even neuroscience. Though, the key word here is balance.
A powerful package design has the ability to stop consumers dead in their tracks with its visual appeal, rationally convince the consumer of its reason for being with its points of parity along with points of difference, and enhance a consumer’s life through intuitive value-add functionality.
The trick is not to go nuts on any one element. As designers, we want to wow consumers at every turn, but there is much to be said for consistency. In fact, the human brain is wired to detect patterns, so if you’re always going to town on graphics and functionality and are breaking the hierarchy of information or perceived patterns, you’re going to lose your sale and your brand loyalist.
Beauty and functionality are the ultimate dream team because one emotionally lures in the consumer and the other rationally convinces them of its value. Take Yves Behar’s take on a watch box for Issey Miyake, for example. Their sleek packaging is eye-catching, but houses the watch in post-consumer recycle paper that doubles as a notepad. Pretty clever.
And then there is Activate Water. This new-kid-on-the-block is taking consumers by storm. To maintain its nutritional integrity, Activate houses its vitamins and electrolytes in the cap. With a simple twist, the vitamins are dispersed and the beverage becomes colored. It’s a treat on the eyes and the lips and it’s fun to use too!
And last but not least, my of-the-moment favorite is Replenish cleaning products. Their novel bottle design houses detergent, then the consumer adds the water. A small pod filled with concentrated detergent simple screws into a reusable plastic bottle, and viola, packaging genius! It’s good looking, vibrant, and a shipping dream! Plus, it’s good for the environment. Now that is groundbreaking innovation.
In our opinion, the best packages are ones that balance beauty and brains. Good packaging isn’t just smoke and mirrors, it’s a way of conveying product value, but also a way to solve life’s daily challenges and take consumers to places they hadn’t expected. Good packaging is good business.
Amina AlTai is the Marketing Director at Imagemme, a New York-based packaging design and branding agency. Originally from London and having also lived in New York and Madrid, Amina has worked for such prestigious companies as Cartier, Vera Wang, Dolce & Gabbana, and Polo Ralph Lauren where she combined her quantitative fluency with her qualitative interests in brand psychology and consumer behavior. Amina earned honors degrees from New York University in economics and communication studies. In 2010, Amina co-authored the book Always In Style, and she speaks extensively on the topics of marketing, branding and entrepreneurship.