What Does Your Packaging Partner Need to Know About Brand Alignment?

In-store, face-to-face with the consumer, product packaging is the most influential way to communicate your brand. So keeping your packaging aligned with the brand should be a dominant goal. And your packaging partner plays a significant role in getting it right. The key is creating a unified, easily identifiable persona for customers to identify with.

A few steps to follow to achieve brand alignment:

  1. Identify your brand’s personality – Pick one trait that defines the brand and bring it to life; this can be honest, playful, from nature, high tech, etc.
  2. Carry design language across packaging lines – Keep it simple, making it easy to identify your brand. Is there a consumer walking the aisles that doesn’t immediately recognize Tide®’s bright orange bottle?
  3. Don’t over or under-design packaging – In other words, don’t put a premium product in a cheap package; it will only degrade the brand. Over-packaging can hurt too. If your selling message is value, packaging with expensive foil printing will confuse shoppers and lose you the sale

A Story About Brand Alignment: How Sharpie® Showed Their Colors

Sharpie is a favorite of school children the world over. The brand had been producing a large collection of markers for retail’s annual Black Friday sale which, until 2015, included 22 permanent markers and 6 markers of another style. For 2015, their marketing team decided to increase the total number to 30, and that presented a challenge. Because this special collection is merchandised as a full-and half-pallet, the corrugated outer carton had to be kept to the same external dimensions of previous cartons, dictated by the standard pallet size, while a new inner plastic tray had to be redesigned to hold a larger number of markers.

Says the client: “We were able to gain a little interior space by switching the outer carton from the pizza box format we had used in past years, with tab-end closings, to a dart board format that opens from the front of the package. But we needed our packaging partner’s expertise to alter the carrier tray to hold more markers.”

The packaging supplier was able to redesign the tray to hold the additional markers while only minimally adjusting its dimensions. Other challengers involved gatefold front panels that had to be sealed in such a way as not to damage the dominant graphic—the product’s popular signature. To ensure that graphic and the brand name lined up perfectly, the manufacturing team created a jig that made it easy. This had to be done because labels were applied at the distributor. In order to pull it off, all teams had to be in sync.

In the words of the client’s top engineer, “This solution really works. Every year we change the front of the pack artwork based on a brainstorm with our creative team, the packager and the retailer. It could be a structural nightmare if we didn’t have perfect alignment at every touch point.”
TCC Sharpie 30 Count Tray

Want a Packaging Partner Who Excels at Brand Alignment? Make Sure They Can Answer These Questions

  • What is your process to align design vision with manufacturing?
  • How should we communicate the product’s unique differentiator via packaging?
  • How do you align all the touch points from initial design to distribution?
  • How will the structure of the packaging deliver on the promise of the brand?
    • For the brand owner
    • For the consumer
    • For the retailer


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