Consumer Brands are not Leveraging the potential of Pack Shapes.

ROI of Branding & Marketing is key during Recessions

Times of recession are upon us (some even believe a major depression is about to land). Marketing teams and brands are cutting budgets and reassessing how to allocate spend most effectively. Luckily consumers still need to eat, drink, wash their hair and change diapers of their kids.

Packs drive tremendous ROI (and its your most powerful Branding Tool!)

With a plethora of touchpoints and channels to activate and a consumer that is getting better and better at filtering out noise, many savvy marketers realize the power of packaging design is immense. From all marketing touch points, your packs spend most time with your target consumers. In addition, your packs are the only marketing instrument that play a critical role before, during and after purchase.

Before Purchase, Pack Shots are featured in most communication

Before purchase, when marketing is focused on generating awareness and building interest, your packs are almost always featured in key visuals, campaign materials, brand world expressions and digital media.

Did you notice our black HALL’s packs? Color is a great tool to drive contrast in crowded fixtures.


During Purchase, Performance of Packs at Shelf are Key to Driving Sales

During purchase, good packs can hit 100% exposure of shoppers at each visit. Your pack’s ability to draw they eye of the shopper (in 2 seconds or less!), correlates directly with sales. Do your packs perform well in driving impact and visibility or is cluttered messaging reducing the performance of your packs? If a marketing team intends to get a target audience to switch from a preferred brand to an offering it is proposing, are the packs effective in conveying the value proposition. How easy is it to navigate a pack and find relevant messages. Quickly?

After Purchase, Packs build Memory Structures & Recall needed for Repurchase.

After purchase, packs perform at the critical moment of use. The product is experienced and packs communicate with consumers on a regular basis, sometimes for hours on end, day after day (How much time do you spend with your water bottle, gum pack or tissue box? Probably much longer than you are exposed to their ads, bus wraps, billboards or digital executions!). Packs that make smart use of visual assets are able to enter memory structures, which helps facilitate those auto-pilot repurchases, driving loyalty, the ultimate goal of branding.

Most brands only touch Graphics, ignoring the potential of Structure & Shape.

When marketers think about packaging design, they mostly only consider graphics. Why? It is a quick and easy fix. Sending a new artwork for print, is a quick and instant adjustment, whereas changing the shape of a bottle usually involves a coordinated effort of multiple teams – Marketing, Factory, R&D, Supply Chain, Trade Marketing, Mold Makers. So structural changes are a little harder, and yes, us humans tend to prefer the easiest road.

Shape is a tremendous (mostly unutilized) driver of Value.

Do you realize that shape, even before color is decoded by the brain fastest? That’s why traffic signs come in triangular shapes with red colors. But shapes go far beyond visual impact at shelf. They play a critical role at the moment of use.

There are Many ways Pack Shapes can drive significant User Value

Let’s have a look at the many ways pack shapes can drive value for users that can affect brand preference and choice. Each bucket on its own can single handedly become a driver of differentiation and distinction

  • Aesthetic of Shape – Does your shape look good? Both on shelf as well as placed in your home?
  • Haptic Experience – How does your pack shape feel in the hand? Does it give you a tactical experience, how does the choice of substrate or material perform?
  • Brand Story Telling – Does your shape convey your brand story, each time it interacts with a user?

Toblerone’s brand story comes out in the shape of the pack.


  • Communicating Brand Purpose & Values – Are you riding a strong purpose story or are brand values an essential way to establish engagement? Does that extend all the way into the shape of the packs?
  • Shelf Impact & Visibility – Does the shape perform at shelf? Does your pack shape draw the eye? Does your pack shape help your brand get seen faster?

when shape and graphics are integrated, shelf impact is maximized.


  • Label Space Optimization – Does the shape provide enough real estate for the labeling area and graphics to perform. Is there good integration between shape and graphics?
  • Performance of Label Substrate – Does the Shape perform well in combination with the choice of substrate?
  • Value Impression – Does your pack have a good value impression. Does it look big enough on shelf? Does the consumer feel its getting value for money?
  • Quality Perception – Does the shape looks solid and sturdy, does it add to the quality perception of the brand?
  • Protective Function – Does the pack perform well in keeping contents fresh.

Pringles tube packs are highly effective in protecting the easy-to-break contents.


  • Logistics Function – does your pack travel well (especially important with more online ordering and home deliveries) does it stack well. Is it strong enough?
  • In-home Placement – how does your pack look in your home, does it fit your interior, is it effective in brand messaging post purchase.

Kleenex tissue boxes are designed with your interior in mind


  • Usability, Handling & Ergonomics – are the packs optimized for the hands of the user? Does it allow single hand carrying or opening? Does it fit in a kid’s hand and is it easy to use.
  • Stability – Does the pump pack wobble when you try to wash your hands? Does it stand strong and stable?
  • SKU management – Does the bottle shape allow you to bring back the number of caps and closures (often the most expensive part of a pack) because it is smartly designed? Are you able to re-utilize the same structure across brands in the portfolio without it being too obvious?

Can multiple sizes share 1 and the same cap mold?


  • Opening / Closing – Is it easy to open and close the pack? With 1 hand, or even 1 finger?

This closure of a hair oil bottle we designed, needed to avoid the oil from creeping out.


  • Dosage Control – Does the pack avoid waste because dosage control is well regulated?
  • Dispensing – Does the pack facilitate dispensing and fully using up a product? The Heinz Squeeze bottles for example are designed with this in mind.

The Heinz bottle shape. Iconic in look and highly
effective in getting that last bit of ketchup out.


  • Structural Afterlife – Does the pack have a function after use? Can it act as a toy for kids, or does it have a secondary storage function. If a used up pack structure can be kept around the house longer, you can extend its communication function indefinitely.


Are you Serious about your Carbon Footprint? Sustainability and Structure go hand-in-hand!

Packaging is considered a big culprit when it comes to counting carbon emissions. If you are serious about becoming more sustainable as a business, pack structures are a perfect way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Various aspects can be considered:

  • Are we able to create a reusable, refillable pack?
  • Do we develop a pack from plant based materials so waste can degrade easier?
  • Or could a redesign of shape aim to reduce plastic grammage (by reducing wall thickness and the amount of plastic used in a bottle, or cap mold for example). Reducing the eco-foot print is on many corporate agenda’s, although at the end of the day margins and pricing still tend to beat those lofty ecological concerns.

this bottle was made with the least amount of plastic possible.


Best time to consider Shape redesign? 6 – 12 months before Mold Renewals!

The best time to consider a packaging shape revamp, is whenever the structural blow molds are up for renewal. Allocate sufficient time for design, mockup developments and research / validation and factor the lead times in for getting new molds made. Often the window for change is missed, because of last-minute planning or departments within an organization not communicating with each other.

Hard to find a specialist that is capable to developing Structures and Shapes?

True, is not easy to find an agency partner that has capabilities to redesign both shape and graphics in tandem. Especially structural design skills are not often included in the service offering of the agencies. While it’s easy to sketch a shape. Understanding the production line on which bottles have to get filled, then producing a brief that a structural designer can work with. The ability to develop accurate volumetrics, estimate plastic grammage and render the technical CAD drawings are out of scope for many.

The team of Square44 however has a track record of many years, working with clients on structural design across most FMCG categories. If you want to discuss opportunities for a structural redesign project or a shape revamp that has to be executed in tandem with a graphic redesign, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch here!

More articles

Effective Packaging Design: Is Alienation a Real Risk?

Effective Packaging Design: Is Alienation a Real Risk?

Do Revolutionary Packaging Design Relaunch Concepts result in Alienation? Or is that exactly the level of Change a Brand Relaunch needs? Often, when working on a brand relaunch, the question of alienation comes to mind at some point during a project. Do the agency's...