Make Significant Packaging Changes Using Storytelling Principles

Make Significant Packaging Changes Using Storytelling Principles

As sustainability, authenticity, and brand values grow in packaging design, major changes are ultimately going to occur to your label design. Especially for large, traditional brands, this is an intimidating journey. Find success with design changes by relying on storytelling principles. You’re telling a story with your design anyway, so by incorporating these guidelines, you only increase your chance of a successful launch.

The Storytelling Principles Already You Know

There are three simple parts of a story to consider. These are great building blocks for starting to get a sense for how you want to release the new design changes.  So, start here as a baseline.

moya wine label - wine traders - great lakes labelBeginning

First, start at the start. How did this change come about? Are you changing your whole focus to be a more environmentally friendly brand with sustainable packaging materials? Well, then consider the reasons why this is an important decision for the brand, and the various reasons why it brings value to customers. Incorporate transparency into the marketing campaign too. Shoppers don’t expect a perfect company, but they want a brand to take ownership of shortcomings and provide clarity on progress.


Now that things are in motion, how will you gather information about what customers really think about it? Whether that’s a simple label redesign or a full-scale change in brand values, everyone has an opinion. Before a new direction is fully committed to, gather feedback about the baby steps and sample tests. Conduct A/B tests, or gather direct feedback from focus groups and surveys. For established and traditional brands, this step is crucial. Change is scary. Make sure you ease loyal shoppers into the new direction by confirming that most people are on board with the changes made.


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After all of the options are tested and data is gathered, it’s time to commit. Before you get to the release, double check that the labels provide the most possible value to the customers. Also, consider how this new direction stacks up against your competition. If there’s any way to go farther to outperform your competition in creating entertaining, inspiring, and value-packed labels, do it.


The Principles You May Not Know, But Work

These are a few of the rules storytellers live by. This goes above and beyond the beginning, middle, and end considerations and focusses on various points in the journey. So, now it’s time to consider the option of a slow release brand change. Instead of one day completely rebranding, this change comes in parts. So, say you’re a beauty brand going cruelty-free and designing a whole new aesthetic to celebrate. It’s perfectly fine to start by simply adding a leaping bunny logo, then change the label design to reflect more natural elements, and, finally, change your products’ containers. At each step, consider different label stocks and innovative techniques. As the brand aesthetic progresses, so may other needs for your packaging.

Meijer R&D Trail Mix & Nuts Bag LabelsThe Rule of 3

Have you ever noticed the magic rule of three? There are three acts to a movie, and trilogies are far more common for series of films. Often there are even three parts to a joke which uses examples, the most ridiculous being the last.

Consider the ways your new packaging could be released in three parts. Are you releasing three new products? Do you want to scatter the various release of new packaging into groups of three? Or, should the design elements be released as a whole, but in increments of three? First, the logo, then the packaging, then the label. Of course, whatever you do, leave the biggest, most exciting surprise for last.

Don’t Introduce New Characters at The End

Even with twist endings, characters who show up at the end of a film still pop up in subtle ways throughout the film. You may not notice it, but they’re there. If this rule isn’t followed, the ending feels lackluster and even boring.

So, when releasing a major redesign, don’t introduce major design elements near the end of the campaign. Adding innovative techniques near the end is a fine way to enhance the developing rebrand. However, releasing new labels and packaging before a logo redesign is a nonsensical order. The logo is crucial for setting a tone. Although it’s important to share the most exciting aspect for last, those exciting releases should be enhancing the label with labeling techniques, sharing valuable content through labeling technology, or personal touches (perhaps promotional in nature) with booklet-style labeling. They go the extra mile in an unexpected way, while also building on the previously released changes.

Don’t Waste Time, Jump Right Into The Action

Stories shouldn’t start with the hero waking up, hitting snooze, waking up again, hitting snooze, waking up for real this time, making breakfast, checking their phone, brushing their teeth, getting ready for work, walking out the door, getting in the car and heading to work before a big inciting incident like a car crash happens. No, it starts with a simple set up so the audience understands this person is headed to work, then we see the crash that changes their life. When details are included like the first example, it’s often boring and self-indulgent.

Where label copy is concerned, don’t meander around the point. Consider the brand values, the new message you’re communicating, and additional certifications or regulations and get right to it. Share the certification logos, communicate a new brand value with a simple hashtag conveying the message, or use impactful imagery to communicate a new direction. Also, consider providing more information about the rebrand on the inside of a booklet-style label, or online which is linked using labeling technology. Then, if shoppers want more details, they’re offered, but they don’t detract from all the hard work put into the new design.

El Grullense Tequila using storytelling principlesCommunicate An Idea With as Little Words as Possible

Not even talented actors make wordy dialogue sound good. Dialogue with too many questions is another major storytelling faux pas. Nobody wants to hear the main character ramble on about their lunch meeting in a romcom. No, the character just needs to rush back to their desk, boxed up food in hand to see a missed call and say a short quip about the meeting.

Shoppers are smart. It’s a major reason why minimalism has been a major label design trend for so long. They don’t want to read a lengthy explanation or study overly complicated imagery to understand what’s going on. Instead, communicate complex ideas with compelling imagery and choose your words carefully. A luxury, handcrafted tequila line with 3D style labels showing an image of the business’ property, and also includes beautiful, calligraphy style graphics, make this message understandable with a glance.


Learn about how innovative labeling techniques can bring your spooky design to life! Download our e-book, The Complete Guide to Innovative Labeling Techniques.

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