The Competitive Edge of Packaging








Image1Jill Chase, Art Director of the Go Dog Design Group started her graphic design career in publishing where she learned paper engineering for pop-up books. This rare talent developed into a unique perspective for designing product packaging. She has had the opportunity to apply her fresh approach to design and marketing to brands such as Power Rangers, Terminator and Family Guy.

Whatever your product is, eventually it will need to stand bravely next to another product and compete for someone's hard earned dollars. This is where killer packaging makes all the difference. Packaging is where the rubber hits the road and your product either gets traction or not. You can have the best product with the most innovative features, but if you don’t get anyone's attention, it doesn't matter. To make stand out packaging we start with a comprehensive analysis of the competition and a trip to the store – or maybe 2 or 3. Where would your product be logically on shelf and what do the competitors look like? This exercise isn’t about copying their look, just the opposite. You want to make sure you don’t blend in and vanish on shelf.

Let’s start by looking at their product and packaging. Are they open or closed boxes mainly? Do they use a lot of photography or illustrations or show the actual product? There are practical reasons that help determine this, but take note of where it works and where it doesn’t help. Do they all use the same color palette? Maybe there is an opportunity to jump off the shelf with a different use of color. Believe it or not, there is no actual law that dolls have to be packaged in pink!

Now let’s look at your product. What about it makes it great? What is the point of differentiation from the other guy’s product? Highlight that feature. If your product is waterproof, moves, makes noises or transforms better than any other toy, let people know at a glance. If it has several awesome features – great! Determine an order of importance so you can create a visual hierarchy. Is there an opportunity for a “Try Me?”

Nothing engages a kid right in the store like a well designed “Try Me.” Whether designing a new product or designing packaging for that product, knowing your competition is essential. Only then, when you are armed with a full understanding of what’s out there, are you are ready to get down to the business of making your packaging the best it can be.


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