The Mill Brand Design


Can you afford not to redesign?

Redesigning your packaging is exciting (maybe I’m a little biased), but can also feel costly and time consuming from a marketers perspective. Is there ever a right time to invest in a refresh? Is it just before a range review, in response to competitor activity or when you want to add a new sub-range into the mix?

In my experience all of these are relevant times to be looking at your packaging, be it a refresh or a complete overhaul, packaging is the tangible part of your brand that your consumers physically interact with on a weekly or even daily basis. And whilst other touchpoints excite, emote and remind consumers about your brand, all roads lead back to the pack and the sale.

With this in mind I thought back to all the conversations I’ve had over the years with marketers and what their rationales have been for doing a redesign.

Brand growth
A brands success can often lead to a focus on innovation to maintain momentum and consumer interest. Over time when new products or sub-ranges are added, packs can become cluttered with messaging, inconsistencies arise and different assets are created to try and get new ranges to stand out. By taking a step back and reviewing the brand assets across the range you can plan for the future, creating a platform for innovation which is now right for the brand.

Threat of delisting
This is not a great place to be and often comes with very tight timings and challenges. It’s very competitive in Australia, with only two supermarket chains dominating the landscape, getting delisted can be fatal for any brand. On a more positive note however this threat can be very liberating. By analysing the brand, it’s competitive set and the potential opportunity, insights are uncovered and a new positioning created which challenges those brands in the status quo.

Competitor copycat
They say copying is a form of flattery and this is so true for packaging. If your pack is being copied then you are setting the benchmark for some of the category semiotics. However, should this be the case, now is the time for a refresh. Build on your success, strengthen your brand assets and behave like the leader to further your position in the eyes of the consumer, otherwise when faced with a cheaper copycat pack, consumers might question the on-cost.

Dated design
Big brands are constantly evolving their packaging, think pack refresh not full range redesign. And whilst they might have the budget to constantly update their packaging, these subtle shifts do often reflect the latest design trends in colour and photography styles. So if you haven’t updated your pack in the last 5 years, then perhaps it’s time to review your assets and ensure your pack reflects your purpose and sets the direction for the next 5 years.

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it does show that not all packaging redesign projects need to be revolutionary. Often it’s about taking the assets you have and strengthening them, ensuring they are relevant and distinctive for your target audience and category.

According to Byron Sharp availability is the key to brand growth, not just physical but mental availability. And this requires a brand to have distinctive assets that are used consistently over time to ensure your brand is always front of mind. So when looking at your packaging if your assets are interchangeable with those in your competitive set now might be the time to do that pack refresh.

Claire Riley
Founder & Strategy Directory, The Mill Brand Design Agency, Melbourne
Contact Claire if you would like to take advantage of her 20 plus years in the branding and packaging industry. With experience in the UK and Australia working on consumer goods brands, from cheese to gin and everything in between, Claire is passionate about creating unique brand assets that tell stories and increase the bottom line.


Rob Riley