Effective product and packaging design is a combination of art, mechanics and social science, all with the end goal of meeting a consumer need, or presenting the opportunity to meet a desire the consumer didn’t know existed until seeing your product.
Design as a process of rationalised constraint, must account for the hard sciences of production processes, regulatory compliance, point of sale requirements, and after all that, the designer must use what space remains as a canvas to project a powerful message that inspires the consumer to reach out and select your product.
Then the next step of design by rationalized constraint begins. The actions of the consumer, channel, and retailers are informed by their perceptions. Understanding those perspectives informs the characteristics of the brand that need to be brought forward in the design. This is the art of brand communication. The clearer the message, the more likely it is to succeed.
Your product design is often the first critical time a shopper comes in contact with your brand, and all the indicators need to be saying the same thing:
“This is a safe choice and the key to improving my current existence.”
There are two essential parts to this concept: a safe choice
When we talk about safety we mean there has been an assessment of the risk in making the choice to select your product based on the information presented and any prior experience of the brand. This assessment will be based on how cohesive the brand message is; how authentic the content appears to be, and whether there are any elements that create dissonance.
Dissonance sets off warning bells, like red berries in the forest. If you don’t know them, you don’t eat them.
The second part: key to improving my current existence
Every action we make is a choice. Choices are based on the values that guide us through our lives. They inform our decisions. Every choice we make is therefore a reflection of those values. Our decisions reinforce our values and help define who we want to be. The same goes for consumers. Every purchase reinforces a belief about who they are and who they are becoming. Some choices are later regretted and others are a significant marker in the next step of our being.
Having resolved a series of design trade offs to a complex of constraints specific to that product and that brand there always remains a space. The designer can’t know all that would be necessary to be certain about the future. More than that, we can never know even one consumer as a subjective being, let alone all the consumers for that product. Yet the opportunity for that product requires action for it to be realized.
So in the final creative act, the designer of truly effective product design takes their triangulated understanding of the brand, the product and their understanding of the consumer. The design that appears to fill that final unknowable void is a hypothesis, an imagining, simply a suggested solution to a problem. Will it be the best solution? The market will answer that in the end. However by applying design by rationalized constraint we will have reduced the consumer’s perception of risk and maximized their understanding of value the product offers.