Can packaging turn your customers off?

The Friday business profile in the Reading Evening Post is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to get some free PR. This week a couple who sell special fruit juices have taken the slot. Everything sounds wonderful (and probably tastes that way too) until I looked at their packaging.

I honestly couldn’t tell these cartons contained fruit juice – they looked more like men’s toiletries (shower gel and shaving cream) or ā€“ worse ā€“ something out of the back room of Ann Summers. The majority sported black backgrounds (with a couple of white ones) with a swirly motif that is reminiscent to the patterns made by swinging those fluorescent rings around that you buy at Guy Fawkes night.

How do these designs relate to fruit? OK, they probably wanted something that stood out from the rest of the fruit drinks, so a design with large images of the fruit in question wouldn’t have caught any customer’s eye. But a black background does not suggest something edible (or drinkable), unless you want to smear it all over your body…

Another look does reveal a description of the flavours on the front, which is the only saving grace it has to suggest it’s a drink. I may not be a brandist, but attractive, edible colours adapted from large, mouth-watering images or using a clever twist with the font from the descriptive words and the fruit colour in question would be much more conducive to achieving a sale.

The moral? Don’t disguise your product, or dress it up so it’s unrecognisable. Blatant, in-your-face designs which say exactly what’s on the tin have always succeeded in the past, with good reason. And keep them clear, concise and uncluttered – overuse of fancy designs can easily obscure your message.

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