In a new three-part series, we explore the many facets of design packaging. What is its significance in the digital age? How has it changed from previous generations and what does it mean to younger generations today? And ultimately, why should brands care about any of this? Our Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Dustin Longstreth introduces the series with his thoughts:
Is Your Brand Ready for the Golden Age of Packaging?
Disruption. It is perhaps both the most overused and most accurate word to describe the nature of what is occurring in almost every walk of life these days. Long held standards, rules of thumb and laws of nature are being replaced, seemingly overnight, by the new, the innovative, the revolutionary.
While we are undeniably inundated with new, there is nothing new about creative destruction. Technological advances do and will continue to destroy businesses, and even industries, but in doing so they open up far more opportunities for those willing to think creatively and redirect their efforts.
The recent shifts in the entertainment industry provide us with a great example. For decades, the two hour major theatrical release dominated. The feature film industry attracted the best talent, received the most exposure, made the most money and had the greatest cultural impact because it was the most robust, accessible, mass format. Television couldn’t compete.
Until things changed.
The coming of age of cable along with the innovation of companies like HBO and CNN set a new standard of what television could be. Things changed even more, and faster, with mass adoption of digital streaming.
Enter, The Golden Age of Television. Always-on distribution via digital streaming through personal devices has wreaked havoc on what was the traditional film studio model but has opened the floodgates for endless innovation in entertainment and storytelling. Technological disruption led to new levels of creative exploration, new models for value creation and a new set of competitors – from Netflix to Amazon to Apple and AT&T.
We believe the consumer packaged goods category is at this crossroads. The big box retail channels, formats and experiences that CPG packaging was designed for are in the midst of significant disruption. Tried and true ways of designing packaging and building brands are being challenged at every turn. But with the destruction of the old comes many more opportunities for the new.
For years, packaging has been a critical piece of brand communication – the one that truly needed to deliver at the first moment of truth. However, packaging for mass consumer product goods had to adhere to a number of constraints – largely driven by the big box retail channels in which they were distributed. Packaging needed to be an advertising billboard, a navigational tool to aid in shopping, a reliable means of shipping and a builder of experiential brand equity – all within the constraints of the uniformity that is required to serve the scale of the big box format.
While brick and mortar shopping still remains dominant and many of those constraints aren’t going away anytime soon, in this series we will take a look at how new technologies and digital distribution channels are providing innovative packaging design opportunities for consumer product brands to explore. For example, as people are discovering products and brands as much through searching online as they are through browsing the aisle, how should we think about designing for the digital shelf? In our image-driven social media landscape, what are the new opportunities to design packaging that can serve as lifestyle content for consumers interested in curating their own personal brands? And what new functional packaging innovations await when designers are free to focus more on solutions for the shelves in your kitchen cabinet than the shelves at your local grocery store?
When asked about the disruptive impact photography was going to have on art, Pablo Picasso famously responded, “Now at least we know everything that painting isn’t.” There was no longer a need for him to paint realism. The camera had mastered it. But Picasso realized he was finally free to imagine and create everything that camera could not.
Disruption in retail and CPG cannot be avoided. But a Golden Age of Packaging Design awaits for those brands with the imagination and creativity to seize it.
Stay tuned as we post our first in the the series tomorrow: Package Functionality in the Digital World.
As Strategy Group Director at CBX, Dustin is continually inspired to develop creative, innovative and purposeful ways to connect his clients’ interests to the lives of their customers.