Building Brand Equity Through Seasonal Packaging

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"Regardless of a brand’s size or status, seasonal packaging design offers a great opportunity to connect with consumers in a highly engaging and relevant way."

Spring Design Partners, Inc.'s Brain Stafflinger,Courtney Rohlk, and Meghan Labot list down fives great examples in how to build brand equity through seasonal packaging.

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It's that time of year!  Anyone who has been in Target lately knows that the holidays are upon us, simply from the inundation of seasonal packaging design.  Snowmen, reindeer, and candy canes are everywhere!  Everything from packaged dog treats to household goods tap into the opportunity to enjoy a bump in sales by enticing consumers with seasonal packaging.  It's a profitable temptation that few brands can resist. 

Within this opportunity, many brands are becoming less precious about their visual equities.  Each year promotional and seasonal packaging is becoming more and more engaging and dynamic.  However, with all of the snowmen and reindeer many brands are getting lost.  Is this new opportunity hurting brand equity?  By introducing seasonal imagery into our brand visual language, are we running the risk of diluting brand equity and weakening the brand over time?  

In some cases the answer is yes.  However, a handful of brands seem to be doing it right and are using the seasonal opportunity not only to increase sales but to also build brand equity by extending their brand story into the seasonal context.  Careful and considered balance of equity and opportunity is necessary for any successful seasonal packaging design.

Here are five best practices to consider when designing seasonal packaging to build brand equity:  

1. Identify the core equity elements that must be maintained within the seasonal design.  

Consider how your identity, color palette, iconography or graphic style can be leveraged within the seasonal context.  

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In both examples, brand color is used to marry the brand to the season. The Ritz Halloween pack seamlessly integrates the logo onto the pumpkin and embraces the brand color of red to create a spooky environment for the carved pumpkin. Oreo has successfully leveraged the iconic Oreo color to set the mood for a playful witch’s lair.

2. Always aim to maintain your brand voice and weave the seasonal opportunity into your brand story.

Thinking about the design as a seasonal message from the brand to its consumer is a good way to ensure the brand story is at the center of the concept.

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Method soap has successfully embraced its brand voice of beautiful design and wrapped its iconic structures in seasonal patterns. The simple addition of the gift tag completes the wrapping paper concept and shows the successful union of form and function.

3. Look for ways to enhance the value of the seasonal package through the structural design.

Seasonal packaging design is effective because it adds value to the consumer experience. Using structural design to enhance the value proposition with secondary usage opportunities is a great “gift” for the consumer.

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For their 2013 Holiday Seasonal offering, Shiner developed a specialty carton with pop-out coasters as a gift for the consumer. Kleenex has adapted its structure for the holidays with a “roof top” to be more complementary to holiday home décor. These purposeful changes in structure work to the advantage of both brands by creating simple, iconic yet seasonally relevant design.

4. Consider how existing elements can be repurposed to communicate a seasonal message.

Layering a seasonal communication onto an already crowded design can be a challenge. Seasonally repurposed design elements can reduce complexity and help keep the brand and product communication intact.

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These examples from Gushers and Reese’s use the product imagery in a fun way to reinforce the holiday theme. Using a brand’s existing equities and assets in a smart way also ensures a simple, proprietary seasonal expression.

5. Consider how a mascot can be used to reinforce the brand personality within the context of the season.

Personified brand mascots are great expressions of the brand personality and have the luxury of adapting to different situations to bring relevance to the brand.

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The 2013 limited edition Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds uses the personified Mr. Peanut featured in television ads, versus the iconic version that traditionally lives on pack. The personified Mr. Peanut has greater flexibility in how he can be used and is able to bring forward the season within the world of Planters. Limited edition seasonal packaging gives brands the opportunity to bring dimension to the personality of the brand through the mascot.

Regardless of a brand’s size or status, seasonal packaging design offers a great opportunity to connect with consumers in a highly engaging and relevant way. Considered extension of brand equities into a seasonal space is a great way to get your package design to work hard – driving sales and building brand equity.

AboutSpring Design Partners

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Spring Design Partners, Inc is a brand design consultancy like no other. As our name implies, we set brands on an upward trajectory—by harnessing the power of design. Over the past 18 years, we have used our unique philosophy and approach to develop and refine an impressive command over how design can impact brands: powerfully, universally, and enduringly.

Equal parts passionate and collaborative, Meghan Labot, Brian Stafflinger and Courtney Rohlk are strategic design leaders who apply their distinctive talents and expertise to uncover the potential of brands through design.

Spring Design Partners' tightly executed strategies have been recognized for excellence with numerous design awards for graphics and structure.