Landor On Getting The Most From A Packaging Redesign

Changing a recognizable packaging is daunting, requiring a big investment that could potentially backfire with consumers. But the potential benefits, argue Landor Associates’ Christine Hall and Dale Doyle, far outweigh the costs.

You may have noticed that brands are refreshing their packaging more frequently than ever before. Advances in technology and social networking expose consumers to new things at a rapid pace, leading consumers to expect some level of change all the time. And brands are responding, evolving the outer skins of their products to satisfy the need for driving change.


The increased frequency of redesigns brings the question of return on investment (ROI) into focus. While ROI is difficult to measure as it relates to branding on pack, the cost of not refreshing over time can far outweigh the expense of redoing your packaging. But a branding missteps à la Gap or Tropicana can draw ire from loyalists. Below are a few ideas for how to get the most out of your package design, without alienating your tried-and-true customers:

Packaging shouldn’t be a one-off project.

Packaging plays a key role in defining your brand and maintaining relevance in this fast-paced market. Revitalizing a brand’s packaging presents opportunities for new and established companies to break out of the clutter and let their identity shine. Many companies evaluate packaging only when their brand is languishing or when a new variant is about to launch. Don’t think of refreshing your packaging as a project with an end date; instead, the “evolution of packaging” should be a regular conversation and a strategic choice as your brand strategy evolves.

[Packaging was not an afterthought; the structure and graphics were addressed from the beginning as a way to disrupt the beverage category.]

Ground your brand in its core.

Redesigning a package requires brands to be very clear about their ownable equities (and those they wish to own), so they can remain consistent at the core and drive consumer relevance at the same time. Packaging structure and graphics go hand in hand and sometimes offer the only points of differentiation for a brand. Getting help from a branding or packaging firm can help identify and strengthen ownable equities. Whether this includes evolving your brandmark or just those recognizable attributes that bring your products’ benefits to life, partners can help you stay true to your brand’s essence while injecting fresh elements into it.

Keep it simple.

Consumers are overloaded. If your package is too complicated, the consumer will move on in mere seconds. If you don’t have lots of marketing dollars to explain your big idea or the meaning behind your nomenclature, stick to simple ideas that are easy to convey. Start by crafting efficient and effective priorities of communication (POC). Brand teams often create briefs listing seven to ten (or more!) POCs for a tiny front label. Shoppers get lost after three, so make sure you prioritize the most important aspects of your brand. You can share all of the other information on side or back labels–or better yet, in other media sources.

Grab inspiration from seemingly unrelated sources. Trends in the market play a key role in assisting designers to mine what is visually interesting today. It’s important to look at what’s happening outside your category for inspiration. For example, if you are a consumer goods brand, look to the automotive or architecture industries for ideas on how structure might bring a package to life. Similarly, fashion could inspire patterns, textures, and color palettes. Layering trends with your core equities is a way to help keep a brand fresh.

A Case Study: Creating A New Brand

To bring to life how these concepts can be put into practice, consider how Landor’s recent design for MiO. The chance to create a new brand in a new category is like winning the lottery in the branding and packaging worlds. Creative teams love to imagine what-ifs and explore various scenarios to address consumer challenges. It’s much easier to measure packaging ROI if you are creating a new-to-the-world brand or category, as there’s very little external activity that will cloud those numbers. Plus, with new brands, you don’t have to contend with consumer perceptions and expectations of an established entity.


With MiO, a liquid flavor enhancer for water, Landor set out to create a brand that would reach immediate iconic status. With very little space for branding on the tiny package, the big idea was to activate the MiO promise and tell the brand story through a powerful graphic “M.” During the first year following launch, MiO exceeded all expectations, and Kraft Foods had another $100 million brand. The return on investment as a result of the packaging seems to be pretty clear.


Written by Christine Hall and Dale Doyle.

[Image: GekaSkr/Shutterstock]