Creating Effective Packaging Design Solutions for Large Product Ranges: 5 Tips for Brand Architecture & Portfolio Management.

Do you have an Effective Brand Architecture?

In our world of brand design we refer to the design of large portfolio’s as brand architecture. Brand Architecture, as it relates to packaging design, deals with the effective visual organization of a large product portfolio.

Brand Architecture Design goes Beyond Visual Organization

A large range relaunch is often not undertaken lightly. A careful balance needs to be struck between being progressive and moving your brand into the current day-and-age versus alienation of your existing core consumer base, something every client approaches with caution and a bit of nervousness.

The Benefits of an Effective Well-Designed Brand Architecture 

Beyond just having pretty looking packs, many commercial benefits may be enjoyed from a well-designed product portfolio or brand architecture solution, some examples are:

  • Sales increases due to an increased impact on the retail shelf which are the result from having a stronger family look and visual shelf presence.
  • Improved shoppability. Large portfolio’s consisting of hundreds of products divided among ranges, sub ranges and variants need to be easily and quickly navigated, so product choices can be made. When information layouts are created based on the key purchase criteria that play a role in the shopper journey you’re able to help your shoppers to quickly identify the right products for their needs. Don’t make navigating a range hard if you want to extend and grow into new segments or product categories.
  • More success from NPD & innovation efforts as new launches enjoy instant credibility being part of a big, well-known, established power brand.
  • Easier brand stretch into new segments or product categories, if the right bridges and connections have been created that allow a brand to jump into new territories.
  • Staying Power! Too many brands that are large and successful are afraid to change and as a result fail to stay relevant to a constantly changing audience. Just like fashion changes every season and just like young generations don’t adopt the same habits as their parents, a brand needs to make a constant effort to stay relevant. Ignore this and your once market leading brand will die at some point as it clings onto an aging and increasingly smaller consumer base. (Does anyone remember Nokia?)
  • Control of Perception & Brand Image. As marketers we’d like to be in control of the way shoppers, buyers and users think about our brand. Sometimes a value proposition gets outdated and new ways of driving superior value are uncovered – to enjoy staying ahead of the pack a repositioning exercise may be needed to shift the perceptions toward our brand to stay in line with developments, improvements and innovations.

Too Often Brand Architecture Projects or Portfolio Relaunches go Wrong!

We have too many meetings with clients that complain about how their portfolio redesign efforts have failed, or weren’t able to deliver the results they were hoping for. Since big relaunches often require significant investment, a poorly executed portfolio relaunch can end up costing you more than the investment needed for the pack relaunch. Some well-known worst practices come to mind, including the Tropicana relaunch as well as Danone’s struggles with Dumex in Asia, that not only cost clients a lot of money in design hours that didn’t deliver results, but sometimes may lead to sales decreases or even the unnecessary demise of a brand.

5 Tips to Avoid Bad Relaunches

What are some of the things that often go wrong and what you – as a client – can do about it to avoid it. Here are 5 tips to help you get better results from large portfolio redesign efforts.

1. Artists Often struggle with Organization, balance Commercial and Creative abilities when assessing Branding Partners.

In the interesting,  competitive and ever-dynamic world of packaging design, we’re competing in an arena with many high-end conceptual artistic firms and unfortunately too few highly commercial, market-oriented firms. Many creative artists lack the ability to think in a structured, organized manner – which can cause executions to focus too much on concepts, not on commercial reality.

A semiotic study into the understanding of how people decode a brand image, may lead to wonderfully creative visual elements and symbolism, but execute these symbols poorly and compromise on shelf stand-out and your beautiful concept won’t sell.

Tip 1: Choosing the right brand design partner, who can think strategically and commercially, but can execute creatively. A good understanding and sense of the commercial challenges that need to be solved, is key.

2. Articulate Commercial Challenges and Opportunities Clearly to get Actual Results.

Besides cleaning up inconsistencies, or aiming for just an improved family look – have an in-depth discussion with your branding partners about the commercial challenges, issues and opportunities your business is facing. Are you losing share to certain competitors, did a new kid on the block steal part of your user base with a compelling value proposition, is there a disconnect between your product offer and your consumer needs? What spaces do you wish to expand into with your portfolio?

Frequently when working on large project portfolio’s, agencies like to start designing too quick, too soon. Spend a good bit of time on developing an understanding of a brand’s sales drivers, the shopper and usage journey and the added value a brand brings or could bring to users. Have clear goals and objectives that are in line with your commercial strategy – because if you don’t know where you’re going – every road will take you there.

Tip 2: Be clear on what battles you’re trying to win, and what primary and secondary issues you’re trying to solve that lead to brand growth and commercial results.

3. Think Ahead, use Architecture to Tap into Future Opportunities, not just to Fix Current Issues.

A good architecture is a fantastic bridge that can lead your brand into new segments and product categories. Having a clear growth vision and an understanding in which spaces your brand could make a big impact helps you to future proof your executions, so architecture is not just fixing a few currently existing inconsistencies, that when fixed will only contribute marginally to growth, but also allowing future growth opportunities to be built into a solution.

Tip 3: Let commercial strategy and objectives dictate the direction in which you want your brand portfolio to develop, so bridges are created for future growth and value delivery.

4. Know the Battle you’re in and use the Right Weapons

If your brand is far ahead of the game, you’re highly successful but just need a quick clean-up of slight inconsistencies, ensure you go for a minor, evolutionary update that doesn’t alienate existing users. When your brand is struggling to stay afloat and you’ve become horribly outdated you might have a need for a more dramatic make-over. When you’re dealing with massive user lapsing and if consumers are switching out of your brand into competitor alternatives, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your value proposition and build bridges into innovative new product segments where your brand would have a future.

Tip 4: Although all road lead to Rome, in the fast moving world of brand design you want to pick the shortest route between 2 points, to maximize the commercial opportunity. For long term success it’s important to execute with the correct focus.

5. Take an External Focus, not an Internal Focus

This last tip is proudly recycled from a previous article I wrote on the topic, but critical and often not understood; develop portfolio’s based on where your consumers want to go, not where you want to direct your consumers. Often marketeers in charge of large portfolio’s suffer from tunnel vision, they see their portfolio as having all the solutions consumers need, it’s just those silly consumers that don’t understand how their folio works. Wrong! Let your consumers decide how a folio should be organized – understand however big your brand is, you exist in a competitive arena full of choices and you’re most likely not the only choice.

Tip 5: Ensure you view your folio structuring efforts from a consumer point of view, don’t let internal logic dictate an architecture exercise or your fundamentals might be wrong from the start.

There you go, hopefully this helps when planning that next big relaunch or to spot issues when you’re in the midst of one. Always aim for the sky and don’t settle for half-done solutions!

Need Some Help with a Big Portfolio Relaunch or an Architecture Challenge?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch! We enjoy the more complicated projects and we’ll not make do with standard off-the-shelf solutions. Every large range has its own issues, challenges and opportunities and we’re always interested to help drive commercial results through the solutions we help develop.

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