Social media is changing just about everything about the way brands market themselves — including packaging design.


Highlights:

  • Packaging is a valuable content channel.
  • Brands need to make packaging design decisions with an eye to how they read in thumbnail images.
  • Use scalable imagery and optimize form function, color pallet, and font for user-generated social media content.

Social media has had an impact on just about everything in our lives, and the packaging industry is no exception. Have you ever considered that packaging is a form of content? In fact, the packaging design of goods is yet another opportunity for the delivery of branded content that engages buyers with brands.

The packaging design of goods is yet another opportunity for the delivery of branded content that engages buyers with brands. Click To Tweet

Furthermore, in this environment where the lines between the digital and material worlds are increasingly blurred, savvy marketers are making sure that packaging aligns with online branded content, creating a cohesive consumer experience. As Mark Hewitt of SGK puts it, “By using the pack as media, brands can create a long-term content journey that builds over time.”

These days, social media is one of the biggest influencers in brands’ packaging design, as marketers continue to harness the power of instantly identifiable packaging.

Three ways social media is shaping the packaging industry

The beauty industry is just one example of where social media is revolutionizing the way marketers are conceiving of packaging design. This is an industry where aesthetic appeal has long been a big part of how beauty products were packaged, but brands have shifted their perspective in light of social media’s impact.

Says beauty branding and product design consultant Rinat Aruh, “We used to use the lens of: How do we design to create an impact on shelves? But now, we design for the thumbnail, which really changes some of the choices we make.”

So how are brands adapting their packaging? Paul Nowak, senior director of sales strategy and business development at QuadPackaging, has identified these three key factors.

1)      Scalable imagery

We live in a mobile world. Images on social media are overwhelmingly viewed on mobile devices, and it’s crucial for designers to take this into account when making packaging decisions. Designs need to grab attention from the thumbnail, as Aruh alluded to. “This means that before designers finalize the packaging form and the brand design of the creative components, they need to add a step that tests the image on social media platforms and views them on a smartphone, not a desktop,” says Nowak.

2)      Form function

Packaging designers have traditionally taken into account form in making design decision. At every phase of the supply chain, it needs to safeguard the product and express the brand and function. But when you put social media into the equation, form decisions take on a new dimension, as many consumer products are exclusively recognizable in social media posts by their packaging.

Nowak uses the example of consumer products like hand lotion. The decision to package the product in “a small tube, a large pump, or an elegant jar all convey different aspects of the brand experience and function of the packaging.”

3)      Color pallet and font

As with form function, color and font decisions have always been key factors for packaging design. But these days, decisions about these design elements aren’t about what catches the eye on a shelf or even on a brand website.

Brands need to make decisions about color and font with an eye toward how they play on social media. This often means a simpler approach, making packaging clean and easily identifiable, even from a thumbnail. “Forward-thinking designers will add a social media test in their design phase to assure brand recognition in all media channels,” says Nowak.

What does the future hold?

If we know one thing about social media and how it impacts the marketing landscape, it’s that change is going to be pretty much constant. Brands need to continue approaching packaging as a valuable media channel and an opportunity to engage with consumers.

In addition to optimizing packaging for the user-generated content on social media, we’re seeing a rise of “connected” packaging. From Snap and Facebook codes, savvy marketers are recognizing the power of packaging design as nexus of the digital and material worlds.

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