Packnostic©: The secret to effective packaging re-design


Re-designing an existing packaging is probably one of the most common, but also the most difficult tasks a brand marketer has to undertake. The risks involved are huge. Re-designs are usually done to attract new customers or make a brand more attractive to existing users, but if something goes wrong, there’s a risk loosing the very business that makes the brand successful in the first place. So it amazes me that so many brands treat a packaging re-design as a minor task, often giving the job to a junior product manager or still worse to a ‘buying department’.

Within the brand company, the bottom line or the production process may command much more attention from management, overshadowing the ‘simple’ task of re-designing the product packaging and making it seem less important, or perhaps less critical? WRONG!

FMCG companies do ‘what it says on the label’, they are producers of Fast Moving, Consumer Goods – ‘Fast Moving’ meaning the market is alive and dynamic, constantly changing, evolving and challenging the status quo – ‘Consumer Goods’ meaning products and services that consumers (or customers), ‘choose’ (or don’t choose), to purchase and might even consider to be ‘their’ own.

This means that re-designing a packaging is definitely NOT a ‘minor task’!

Let’s not also forget that a FMCG product sits in a modern supermarket along with 20-40,000 other packs and brands, which are all competing for the same customer’s attention. So whatever company is ‘behind’ the brand, what ever goes on in the factory or corporate offices…, at the point of purchase, the customer sees only ‘what’s on the pack’, and ‘what sits on the shelf next to the pack!’ In this situation, the pack becomes the sole ambassador for the company, for the product and for the brand!

It makes sense therefore, that before anyone starts to undertake a re-design of any package, that there needs to be a way of understanding what the packaging is currently communicating to it’s customers, what competitors are saying and where and how the brand is being displayed. There needs to be an ‘intelligence gathering’ process, so that any future design decisions are made based on ‘real’ information and solid facts.

This is why I, and my colleagues, created Packnostic©, a diagnostic and intelligence gathering tool that allows us to do just that, to analyse and dissect a brands design communication and balance that against the landscape of the competitive environment. The aim of Packnostic©, is to help marketers understand their brands, what they are ‘really’ communicating, what their competitors are saying and to give guidance in the development of future design briefs and support throughout the following design process. We want to remove the ‘guesswork’ from the process and make it more informed, more relevant and precise.

How does Packnostic© work?

The process involves evaluating if your package meets all the criteria necessary to communicate efficiently and the effectiveness of your package in its retail environment.

Whilst not a consumer research, this study, undertaken by the people who design your packages, will question all the constitutive elements of your package (the form, the structure, the branding, the communication, the colours, the materials, the illustrations, the logotype, the secondary texts and the typography etc…..). Each element will be judged and debated through the use of several evaluation tools specially developed by the designers themselves.

The key to the effectiveness of this study lies in our objective approach. Your packages will be evaluated without the aid of marketing information or a brief. Just like consumers, the team will make their assessment based on the visual attributes of your package. They will build up ‘brand maps’ viewed from the” consumer’s” perspective, drawing conclusions from the visual attributes of your current package and defining the “perceived” benefits and essence of your brand.


This analysis will help sharpen the good management of your brand. Packnostic© will analyse how the graphic attributes of the package currently communicate, so that you will receive a unique insight into the effectiveness of your current package communication and be able to assess if your current marketing objectives are being well expressed.

The results of this study will be presented in a written Power Point document presented to you and discussed with you during a two-hour meeting. You will discover what your package is really communicating and receive valuable insights that will help you improve your product’s effectiveness. You will also have the opportunity to sit and discuss with packaging professionals, understand the details and methodology of the study and question their views on packaging and design.


Designers are also consumers, this unique combination offers the chance to get an evaluation that comes from a consumer perspective whilst giving you a professional designers appraisal and analysis of your package’s performance.

Unlike a conventional consumer test, Packnostic© will expose what works and what doesn’t work on your packages in comparison to your competition. It will also go much further, exploring the possibilities for future improvement and building clear guides and objectives to help with any subsequent design brief.

Packnostic© has already helped many brands understand the keys to successful communication in the market place, clients like; Spadel, Scottish&Newcastle, Kellogg’s, Barry Callebaut, Sara Lee, Kraft/Mondelez, Henkel, Johnson and Johnson, Samsonite, Friesland-Campina, Sylvania etc…

For further information and a full presentation contact Rowland Heming RH-PKG ©2015

rh.pkga@gmail.com     /   rhpkh.wordpress.com






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