Experts tell us that packages and labels on crowded store shelves have an average of three seconds to capture a consumer’s attention. There are a handful of ways to help ensure this happens. But there are a myriad of ways to increase the odds that they will ignore your label.
Here are five of the most common label design practices you should avoid, illustrated by a series of “What if?” scenarios:
1. Lack of color
Bright colors are one of the primary tools that consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers use to grab consumer attention as they visually scan store shelves. What would happen if you selected a drab or indistinct color scheme for your product labels? This would almost guarantee that it would fade into the background and will be quickly dismissed by busy shoppers.
As you develop a color scheme for your brand, pay careful attention to color psychology. In other words, colors make us feel different ways. For example, blue tends to connote calmness or professionalism. Purple is often regarded as a color that communicates wealth or wisdom. Finally, yellow communicates warmth and energy.
What qualities do you want associated with your brand? Select your color scheme accordingly, and consider doing some customer research to validate and refine your decisions.
2. Unclear package information and instructions
In recent years, consumers have become much more demanding about package and label information. If your labels and packaging aren’t aligned with their expectations, your products will almost certainly be ignored. What if you took your best guess at the information your customers want to see on your labels? Then you run the risk of misjudging their needs.
To understand what they’re looking for, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers and their needs. For best results, conduct consumer research to help steer your label design decisions in the right direction. It will also give you insights on the information your customers want to see on your labels.
3. Indistinct branding
Lackluster branding is a certain route to packaging and label oblivion. Most consumers expect to see a strong and consistent brand on the products they buy. If they can’t tell what your brand story is and what it stands for, they will tend to overlook your packages and labels on store shelves.
Brand familiarity tends to favor incumbent or well-known companies. But smaller CPG manufacturers can benefit by creating distinctive, bespoke brands that align with the values and aspirations of younger consumers. Often, the labels of these packages tell a story through their designs that appeal to a particular demographic. For example, the rise of craft beers, distilled spirits and wines from short-run producers have created an explosion of highly memorable, quirky and attractive brands, labels and packaging.
If you’re not sure how customers will react to your branding, conduct some research with them. Show them several possible brand designs, and ask them for their visceral reactions. You may be surprised by what you learn!
4. Use stock images and common fonts
Consumers are very savvy. They want transparent, authentic experiences in their lives, including the products they buy. They can immediately tell if a brand looks too “slickly” packaged. Stock photography may be easy and inexpensive for consumer product goods manufacturers to procure and use. But it can easily become a crutch that hurts your brand image and, ultimately, your sales.
As we discussed earlier; labels that have a hand-made or home-grown look to them can be very effective in capturing the attention of younger consumers because of their authentic look. When in doubt, test prospective designs with your customers to zero in on those they respond to the best.
5. Designs that don’t reflect your brand story
Once you have crafted the backstory of your brand, the next step is to design labels and packaging that align with it. For example, if your CPG product line emphasizes organic foods, your labels should probably utilize a more traditional, hand-made look – not a slick, colorful label that looks like it came from a world-famous consumer brand.
One of the biggest mistakes food manufacturers and distributors make is failing to create a brand story. Remember: This part of your brand is a differentiation tool. By occupying a space in the minds of your prospective customers, you increase the odds that your product and its brand story will stand out when the consumer is standing in front of your product category in the store aisle. Not having a brand story – or a poorly written one – will make it more likely that consumers will ignore your products.
For best results, talk to your consumers. Ask them questions to determine their current perceptions of your brand. From there, develop a plan to move them in the direction you want them to go. This is a process that you will need to work on consistently and gradually.
In addition, keep in mind that retailers need to understand what makes your products different or better before they will devote precious shelf space to them. In other words, your brand story matters more than you think!
There are thousands of products and brands competing for consumers’ attention in today’s store aisles. Don’t leave your label design to chance. Invest the time and effort to develop a distinctive, attractive and differentiated brand that will stand out, sell well and delight consumers!