Is Your Product on the Path to Iconic?

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Derrick Lin


Written by Michael DiFranco, VP of Marketing at JohnsByrne.

Does Your Product Packaging Design Help Elevate Your Brand to Iconic Status?

You know icon when you see it. Brands such as Coca-Cola or Tiffany & Co. are hard to miss. How have classic brands managed to create product packaging designs that just about anyone can recognize? Creating an iconic brand takes careful work and dedication. Often a customer’s first interaction and connection to a brand, packaging plays an essential role in supporting a brand’s path to iconic status. Poorly designed or planned packaging can hinder the success of an otherwise great product.

So, how do you know if your new product packaging design has what it takes to become an icon in one, five, or 10 years down the road? To ensure your packaging is memorable and sets your product apart from the crowd, consider implementing the following proven elements that have helped create iconic brands.

Is your packaging design memorable? If you consider any major brand, such as the Coca-Cola red, the Nike Swoosh or McDonald’s Golden Arches, it’s hard for anyone not to remember them. A definite sign that your brand is designed to be iconic is the presence of strong, powerful visual cues. Regardless of your product, visual cues that stay in people’s minds are a key first step for developing iconic status. You can achieve strong visual cues through deliberate printing and finishing elements on your packaging including PMS colors, specialty coatings, press effects, embossing, debossing or foils. By focusing on these strong visual elements of your packaging, you create a focal point for consumers, making your brand, product and packaging easy to remember.

Many of the brands we consider iconic are the simplest we know. Take Nike and Apple as examples. Rather than obscuring their strong branding with too many effects, designs are simplified and clean. While your packaging should reflect your brand’s status and appeal to your market, it’s important to not overdo it with too many bells and whistles that can detract attention from your branding or confuse consumers.

Keeping your packaging simple and focused allows you to highlight the most important elements of your brand. Aesthetically speaking, too many specialty effects can clash and result in a confusing message to consumers. Choose the most important aspect of your brand and highlight this through your packaging. The consistency between your marketing, branding and packaging will resonate better with consumers.

Chanel No.5 Timeless Evolution

Timeless Design
An iconic packaging can transcend both times and cultures. Achieving a timeless design with your packaging is a fundamental element that should be considered when designing your packaging. Although your design may not seem revolutionary at first, sometimes it’s that unique look and feel that creates the timeless look that your brand needs to achieve iconic status. Brands like Chanel may have debuted their iconic Chanel No.5 packaging back in the 1920’s, but this timeless design still speaks volumes about the brand.

Don’t get swept up by trends. Instead really focus on your brand and your product. What design and structure better supports your ultimate brand message? Keep this in mind to ensure your design is not over influenced by competitors or passing fads.

Strong Roots
Just like incorporating strong visual cues in your packaging is important for setting your brand up for iconic status, ensuring your packaging design and elements reinforce your brand and company roots is just as important. Brands that are strongly connected to their origins, beliefs and heritage are more likely to become iconic as they build a familiarity with consumers and a sense of comfort and expectations.

Take Jack Daniels for example. Even to this date, the iconic square bottle and black label are synonymous with the brand’s whiskey. Making sure your packaging reinforces and supports your roots is fundamental to helping your brand achieve iconic status.

Resist the urge to change at every corner. While a refresh is important to show your brand is thriving and moving forward with consumers, sticking to your roots when it comes to packaging is key to maintaining consumer loyalty.

Strong Positioning
Although it might seem obvious, positioning your brand can be challenging. Many different factors impact how your brand and products are situated in consumers’ minds. Strong positioning requires a definitive brand message that clearly identifies your target consumers and caters to their needs and desires.

Whether you’re a high-end brand or a brand focused on imagination like Lego, your packaging should support and confirm your brand’s position in the market. Even within your brand, products and product tiers may require different packaging to meet your positioning needs. This can be achieved through a variety of print and finishing effects that can help solidify your brands’ position in the market.

Compelling Story
An iconic brand not only engages and allows consumers to identify with it, but it also tells a compelling story. Your story, whether it’s one of commitment to others, a lifestyle or an attitude, is an important part of your brand promise.

Telling a compelling story through your packaging is an essential part of any packaging design. The ability to carefully combine visual elements, structure, substrates, coatings and finishes to produce your brand story is a mastery that requires strategic and deliberate planning.

Is Your Product on the Path to Iconic?
An iconic brand requires a deliberate packaging design that supports the entire brand’s goals including messaging, story and positioning. Packaging is key in reinforcing branding and supporting marketing initiatives. As such, your packaging should be a critical component of your entire product and branding strategy.

About the author
Michael DiFranco serves as the VP of Marketing at JohnsByrne. Celebrating its 56th year of operations, JohnsByrne Company is a custom packaging and print solutions provider catering to major brands in health & beauty, food and beverage,  and consumer products. With a culture built around innovation, quality, design and speed, their offerings span value added folding cartons, specialty packaging and high impact direct mail. To learn more about these and other services, visit