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Shashwat Das of Almond Branding walks us through the process of designing packaging
We spoke to Shashwat Das, who owns a brand building and design agency called Almond Branding -- about the process of de...
brands

From mass production to customisation, here is how brand packaging has evolved over the years

We spoke to Shashwat Das, who owns a brand building and design agency called Almond Branding -- about the process of de...
  • Lately, from Lay’s smile packs to Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’, the way brands are going about packaging their products has seen a major shift.
  • Brands are moving towards personalisation and technology is now making it possible to execute disruptive ideas in the quickest way possible.
  • Shashwat Das of Almond Branding walks us through the process of designing packaging for brands in the digital age, the role it plays in building a brand's image, and the trends he foresees shaping up in 2020.
Play iconA circle surrounding a triangle pointing right. It indicates, "this type of media can be played."Here's what goes behind designing brand packaging
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For Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies, its packaging is the final point of contact with customers. Having an unforgettable packaging design can therefore help in communicating a disruptive image and stand out in the cluttered, competitive shelves.

Packaging is not just a container, buying decisions are influenced by its design and if it cues trendy colours and conveys the brand story well, it has a high probability of being picked up by the consumer right away.

Before a brand invests in a national campaign, it needs to strengthen its distribution strategy. If at this step, the packaging is convincing enough for the consumer to stop and notice, everything else falls in place.

Lately, from Lay’s smile packs to Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’, the way brands are going about packaging their products has seen a major shift. Brands are moving towards personalisation and technology is now making it possible to execute disruptive ideas in the quickest way possible.

We spoke to Shashwat Das, who owns a brand building and design agency called Almond Branding -- about the process of designing a brand's image, challenges the packaging industry faces and the trends we can expect to see in the industry in 2020.

Telling us how important designing is in building a brand, Das said, “They say your brand is something people will talk about after you've left the room. It's all about its perception. And design plays a massive role in creating that perception. Not only creating the image but also nurturing it.”

He added, “So if you have created a perception of a luxury brand, you need to keep on bolstering it. Design helps in creating that and packaging design would help in communicating something consistently over time. Consistency is a key thing for brand-building.”

Finding back the lost importance

There is a lot of effort that is put into building a brand identity, designing its public image, however, packaging and design experts in India still think that it is the most overlooked and underutilised marketing tool.

Das, who has spent a decade in the packaging industry and currently works with giants such as Amul, Marico, Parle, ITC, Dabur, Kellogg’s -- still has to confront clients and managers who undermine the process and its importance in a brand journey. He was often told that product matters more than the packaging, as the pack ultimately goes into the dump.

Telling us how he deals with this disregard for the art, he shared, “More marketers are understanding the need to invest into packaging but if I tell them that’s there’s a huge investment required, which marketers are aware but for the boardroom guys and directors, it's very difficult for them to understand why such an investment is necessary in packaging in India. So the onus is onto us as packaging design experts to demonstrate to them how packaging actually has helped them on their ROI or how it would lead into larger sales, greater market share, better brand imagery, etc.”

Trends in 2020

According to a study by Assocham-EY, the market size of India’s packaging industry is expected to touch $72.6 billion by FY20.

While most packaging companies switched from analog to digital in the last decade, Das feels that 2020 is the beginning of a new decade that will be dominated by the digital world and push packaging to its tipping point. The turnaround time will decrease, there will be less print blunders, and more personalisation. These trends will also help start-ups to breed in the ecosystem as packaging would ultimately become less expensive.

Just like digital brought Netflix and video-on-demand and replaced buttons with screens, Das said it will now bring printing-on-demand. “Packaging will become more and more intuitive and engaging. What is happening in the digital field, will happen in the world of packaging too. It will customise itself. Therefore, this is going to be a decade for personalisation, be it India, be it anywhere; it's only a matter of time that the technologies percolate in and things become cheaper. More the demand, things will become cheaper and then it will be prevalent everywhere. The entire process is going to be much faster now.”

Another trend that technology has brought in is printable electronics. The bar-codes, once scanned, give away more information to the consumer than earlier and can increase engagement.

With the availability of more information, consumers have become more aware. This has birthed the need for brands to be more transparent in the contents of their product, which is printed on the packaging.

“If a brand is not communicating, if they are not clean and honest, they recede to the background. That's how brands remain relevant. People also want to know whether the brand's packaging is sustainable or not. The expectations are growing. Packaging used to be for storing the product but now, consumers expect it to tell them the right things about the product, it should be fun and delightful, it should excite them, be convenient and they should be able to carry it. And while doing all of this, it should be the least harmful to the environment. The industry has to address all of these concerns in the coming years. If you are not doing that, you are out of the market,” explained Das.

Since the beginning, colours like red, yellow and green have been used for packaging food. However, now the consumers have become more accepting of newer ideas.

“People were very conservative in India but things are changing. If we would have proposed black in food packaging 10 years ago, clients would panic. It wasn’t a food color. Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, every other brand is red, but now black is classy. Back then, clients would say ' koi aur color dikhao' (show me a different colour). And in today's age, people are accepting more colours. For example, Too Yum! is black and it stands out in the clutter.”

While the ways of executing packaging and its designs have changed, disruptive ideas and consistency in communication still remain the key to a brand’s success.