The art of packaging – Part 1

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Procter & Gamble coined the phrase ‘First Moment of Truth’ (FMOT) referring to the consumer’s first exposure to the brand – at the shelf in a store. At that split second, the first impressions of the brand are formed.

The “first moment of truth,” as P&G calls it, is the three to seven seconds when someone notices an item on a store shelf. Despite spending billions on traditional advertising, the consumer-products giant thinks this instant is one of its most important marketing opportunities.
[Dina Howell, director of FMOT at P&G] says packaging should “interrupt” shoppers on their shopping trip. P&G has developed a set of questions that a package must answer: “Who am I? What am I? Why am I right for you?”

The appeal could be a function of packaging, display, merchandising – the entire gamut of possible interactions with the brand at a store level. The importance is heightened in modern trade formats where it’s a one-to-one between the brand and the consumer. In this context, packaging – the form, shape, material, brand name and graphics – is paramount, specially in consumer goods. In India, my impression is that we are not as advanced as the West when it comes to quality of packaging design & graphics. It is not yet a widely practiced specialist function. Part of the reason could be that Art Schools place less emphasis on this discipline and most Advertising Agency art directors are more comfortable with mass media advertising. In creative award shows, Packaging is just another category. The bigger categories hog all the limelight. Radio, on the other hand has specialist award shows like the Mirchi Kaan Awards. And helped by the FM phenomenon, Radio is seen as a category where creative work can be done. And it shows in the importance given to the medium by Creatives.

There is no dearth of inspiration from the West. Herewith some packaging that caught my eye:

Traidcraft Tissue

Toilet paper. Kitchen towels. Wipes. Not the words that evoke great imagery. And if you are the designer responsible for the packaging design, having fun wouldn’t be on the top of expectations with the project. But look at what Studio Blackburn did with Traidcraft Tissue range.


This won a Silver at the 2009 European Design Awards, under Packaging (Miscellaneous).

Help, I Need Help

I had neither heard of Help Remedies nor seen this packaging before. But I am sure for all of us this completely changes our mental images of pharmaceutical products.


Simply loved the nomenclature and the ‘dare to be different’ approach to packaging.

Cosmos Paint

The ads are colourful. The cans aren’t, usually. The environment in which it is sold is also dull and unlikely to be ever visited by the end consumer. It could be different in Greece, where this was designed.


Agency: K2Design


A typical reaction (and perhaps right) to this would be: this won’t work in India. Labels in this category tend to be filled with graphics and copy, but this could appeal to clients who address the very top end of the market in India.

Waitrose Honey.jpg

Designer Turner Duckworth, United Kingdom

Waitrose Mustard.jpg

Designer: Lewis Moberly


Designer Pearlfisher. Loved the way the designer has organized his portfolio.

Rexona Men

While packaging designs for sophisticated, high end markets can afford some experimentation, this is as mass-market and supermarket shelf as you can get. And I think it evokes an instant, positive reaction.

Rexona men.jpg

Agency: Pierini Partners

This was awarded the Most Irresistible Packaging Solution by Unilever in 2008 and also won at the Penta Awards, 2008.

Tesco Tortilla Chips

A Platinum Award winner at the Penta Awards, 2008 this supermarket design for Tesco Tortilla Chips takes a quirky approach with the use of a Mexican character.


Agency: Pemberton & Whitefoord, UK

So, those were some of the packaging designs that were truly inspirational for me. There’s a lot more to share but before it gets depressing, I shall stop. Any thoughts on the above? How does it compare with packaging on supermarket shelves in India?

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  1. Very interesting post, with good examples. Lot of time I was caught by some really creative packaging in the provision stores, which made me to buy that, though I dint had any intentions of buying it.

    Packaging really plays a very important role, I accept it without any second thoughts on it.

    • Thanks rush.Me. Yes, I checked out both the links. It’s an interesting world out there when it comes to packaging.

  2. i read somewhere that packaging is a silent salesman. And silence is golden. That only goes to show that awesome packaging works wonders.

    • Thanks, Pramod for dropping by and the comment. ‘Jo dikhta hai woh bhikta hai’ is another saying, but I guess it’s more than just display that matters.

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