‘Graphic Downsizing’ vs ‘Making the Logo Bigger’: New Trend in Package Design?

You are welcome to share your thoughts on this article written by Renée Whitworth, Strategic Partner at Flood Creative, New York

After years of the competitive design strategy being ‘make the logo bigger’, brands are now enjoying a bit of breathing room.

A package surface is considered valuable real estate seen by 100% of your target. When a designer suggests some visual whitespace it typically makes marketers nervous that something has to be sacrificed or relegated to the back panel. In certain categories like cereal, the only thing that distinguishes the milk-splashed cereal bowl shot from one brand to the other is the logo, the character/icon, and the ‘better for you’ checklist. So what designers might view as clutter, marketers view as critical points of difference.

The good news is there is an attractive compromise. You can reduce elements rather than eliminating them. I have pulled just a few examples demonstrating that tried-and-true brands can maintain all the same communication points and yet seem refreshed.

Pic.  A series of product redesigns showcasing the ‘graphic downsizing’ trend— in the U.S.

Revolutionary redesign is always noticed but not always accepted. The branding community and consumers are very opinionated, and let’s be honest since we reward them for their opinions (be it with cash or cachet) it is never going to change. Evolutionary design is usually accepted without much fanfare. Sure we professionals notice, but if a consumer can still recognize all the cues it associates with your brand there will always be a less dramatic ‘reveal’. How often have you seen a new logo or a new package and remarked, “They should have done this sooner!” Unless you are looking for shock value or your brand is on life-support, that response is the holy grail.

Furthermore, it is unfair to judge a product that has a sub-brands, a co-branded ingredient strategy, or multiple benefit platforms in the same light as you judge a brand like method®. So the next time you are struggling with how to compete with the pithy content of private label, try to remember the following.

  • make one element the hero, and build the rest of the story around it;
  • resist the temptation to fill space;
  • integrating elements together is better than putting each one in a corner;
  • drop shadows, gradations and other effects can add just as much clutter as words, shapes and symbols;
  • think about the impression on shelf in multiple SKUs, not in the isolation of your conference room

There is always room for natural improvement vs. major surgery. And it can pay off. Good luck.

About the Author

Renée Whitworth is a strategic partner at Flood Creative in New York. Over the last 15 years she has developed a reputation for providing unique insights that help every facet of design come together with a singular, shared focus.