How do you package your brand?

Could you imagine seeing a commercial for a breakfast cereal that you might like to try, and when you get to the market, nothing on the shelf seems to match what you saw in the ad? Packaging matters. It is an extension of your brand in several ways and it is an opportunity to continue to shape the brand experience. When you have your brand in the hands of a customer, they should know it’s your product. It should reinforce your brand messaging and identity. Further, the packaging format itself represents an opportunity. Is it patient friendly? Will it help foster compliance? Does it feature clear instructions? Is it easy to use? All of these things should be taken into consideration before you commit to any packaging direction.

Determine the Right Brand Pathway

One of the first decisions regarding packaging is whether to follow your corporate or product brand. There is no single right or wrong answer. Many companies with multiple products will create extend their corporate brand to packaging and create a system that allows the product brand to be featured, but within the corporate brand identity. The advantage here is that you have a cohesive family of product packages. Sometimes the product brand color is used to help differentiate between the product packages. If the product is going to wind up in the hands of customers, and direct-to-consumer marketing or education comes into play, you may choose to overtly harness your product brand identity. You want your customers to recognize your product and this is an effective way of reinforcing consistency.

Keep it Simple

Often there are regulatory and distribution requirements that must be met. Bar codes for inventory tracking, acceptable storage temperatures, lot numbers and expiration dates are usually necessities. The key is to organize your information intuitively. Also, if you can, save at least one side of your packaging to serve as a billboard for your brand – feature the brand name prominently within your brand identity. It’s your product’s opportunity to be recognized immediately. You need to include the mandatories, but as a rule, less is more. You don’t want your packaging to appear too complicated or overwhelming to your customer.

Learn from Competition

If you have competitors, how are they packaging their offering? What are they doing well? What could be improved? Have they established expectations with patients or doctors regarding how product is supplied? You don’t want to be different for the sake of being different, but if there’s an opportunity to gain some competitive advantage through packaging (whether it be based in perception or actual usability), it should not be squandered.

Help Your Patients Help Themselves

Today more than ever before, there are packaging options that can help patients with adherence. From smart bottles that can capture usage data to blister packs and wallets that indicate days of the week and am/pm dosing, choices abound. Should the package be child resistant? Should it be easy-to-open and close? Look closely at your dosing regimen and overlay that with your audience. Where will they need help? How can your packaging facilitate the process?

Don’t Skimp on Practitioners

Doctors and nurses are consumers too. They make purchasing decisions in their own lives every day and the same sensibility of good packaging applies to products in their day-to-day practice of medicine. They may not acknowledge it or may downplay its importance, but packaging that is well branded, clear and informative is paramount helping assure a positive brand experience.

Think Packaging Through from Start to Finish

Does the product have outer packaging? How is the product distributed? Does it need to be refrigerated? Are there several components that will be packaged together as a system? If yes, are all the parts labeled clearly? If the product is shipped, what does that shipping container look like? Does it respect patent privacy? Can you include information that might be helpful or interesting to the patient within each shipment? Can you implement a reordering system that makes staying on medication more streamlined? It’s important to track all the points of contact that lead through the time of your customer using your product.

Be Responsible

Too little or too much packaging can send the wrong message. You don’t want customers thinking that excessive packaging is adding to price, and at the same time you want to maintain an expectation of quality that can be reflected via packaging. Likewise, are there opportunities to use recycled goods? Is your packaging itself recyclable? Does your packaging provide the necessary durability to last throughout a course of treatment? Be sure that your packaging is purposeful, functional and environmentally sound.

From the color of a vial top, to dispenser racks to sample packs, packaging represents an essential chance to help communicate your brand and reinforce your customers’ brand experience. Make your choices deliberately and early enough in the brand creation process so you can establish packaging that makes sense and apply the brand intelligently. Make your packaging work for your customer, not a workout.

by Jonathan D. Katz