Jan 27, 2012

Form follows function?

Packaging format, heavily guided by form, influences our impression of what’s inside at a deep, if unconscious level. Packaging graphic design, whilst still a subtle communicator, is relatively more up-front in its storytelling.

Long-life juice is very much the poor relation of chilled juice in the UK market, and so brands try very hard to compensate with signals of freshness and quality. But should these signals be physical or graphic?

No harm in doing both, of course, but execution is vital. Don Simon strikes me as an honest, authentic brand, and has a charming story on the back about its factory being surrounded by ‘millions of orange groves’ (I think they mean trees). But the carton format used is one of many that try extremely hard to shape themselves to look like the gable-top which dominates the chilled juice category.

In practice most of these shapes look and feel like a bad day at the origami class, so for my money the Marks & Spencer standard ‘briks’ tell a far more convincing freshness story by not trying too hard.

Takeout: Physical packaging is a powerful communicator, but simplicity and functionality still trump a contrived attempt to look like something else.