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Packaging: Reinforcing brand-related associations

Neuroscience and behavioural economics both emphasise the brain’s sophisticated capacity to make efficient decisions using very fast, subconscious processes.

The challenge this presents for FMCG brand managers and marketeers is to develop communications that support easy, intuitive decision-making.

One aspect of this is to deliver a truly coherent proposition embodied in the product itself, its packaging and other forms of communication.

Designing effective packaging for existing brands must therefore begin with a deep understanding of how the brand is conceptualised in the minds of consumers. This insight enables the subsequent design to reflect, trigger and reinforce the same neural associations, or to strategically build on positive associations when the objective is to reposition the brand.

Failure to recognise or respect these associations can have severe consequences for a brand as demonstrated by the disastrous packaging re-design of Tropicana in 2009.

The Tropicana redesign violated many of the subconscious brand associations consumers had come to rely upon. The new design abandoned the distinctive typographical style of the Tropicana brand mark as well as the iconic ‘straw in orange’ imagery which had become established cues for the quality and freshness of the product.

Tropicana saw sales plummet in the aftermath of the pack redesign and the brand reverted to a more classical pack design soon after.



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