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Saturday, May 25, 2024


By Martin Bunce

The end of the year seemed a perfect time to reflect on some of the experiences and innovations I’ve covered over the past 12 months and what we have learned.

At the start of 2017, I looked at IP clauses and the need for FMCG manufacturers to sympathise with and understand some of the challenges this creates for us, the designers. We may, either intentionally or accidentally, copy someone else’s idea. Without conducting patent searches, we have no way of asserting that what we believe to be original, is indeed free from conflict with a third party.

I can absolutely swear that whilst we don’t ‘copy’, we have indeed been known to ‘intentionally’ use someone else’s idea, because that ‘thing’ already exists and we may creatively re-appropriate it, perhaps the product designer’s equivalent of sampling. To do our job well and bring the value clients demand, designers must have the freedom to do this as part of the creative process.

In February, I pulled together 7 ‘A’s to help us with effective brand storytelling: Alluring: Headline with something that builds interest and engagement to draw you in; Anticipation: Create a tension by alluding to the future experience that makes us crave more; Aspiring: Include something or someone that you can relate to and aspire to; Adventure: Through the packaging, take the consumer on an experiential journey, with a beginning, middle and end; Authentic: Know your roots and keep them alive to remain genuine, simple and trusted; An original: Avoid crossing over with other well know brand stories. Being unique sticks!; ‘And on and on and on’: Be prepared for the need of new chapters to continue the story. Even the longest standing brand stories find ways to reinvigorate and stimulate interest, both with new and existing consumers. With the 7 ’A’s in mind, remember that stories must be reinforced in everything you do. A brand story is all encompassing from communication to in-store, from user experience to user disposal, from what’s on the inside and what’s on the outside.

Next up was a new buzzword seeking the attention of all briefs and self respecting brand, innovation and R&D teams:“E-Com”. Online shopping has been with us for a long time, but in the world of designing packaging it felt like E-Com had been sat on the starting grid with its wheels spinning and squealing and we were starting to feel the traction. E-Com enables us to uncouple the first moment of truth and spend more energy on the experience. Away from the noise of competing at shelf, we can develop more personal relationships with our consumers. We need not lose sight of our fundamental design approach, we just need to re-ask the questions: What are real people doing, what are the situations, what are the things that they need and how do they afford the best brand experience? Next we looked at how all packaging generates experiences too.

The question is whether an experience is unique to a brand and whether it creates and builds positive values. Designing experiences requires an intimate understanding of the entire product journey, how it affects us physically and emotionally. Have you defined this yet? Finally, came the topic of colour recognition. Colour is the first sensory contact brands have with a customer, with up to 85% of customers’ first impression being based on colour alone according to the Institute of Colour Research. Successfully owning a colour is a big deal, from speaking to us on a sub conscious level to helping us engage with a brand’s personality and influencing our buying decision from start to finish.

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