Packaged FINDINGS: Standout packaging still needs brand identity

Posted on Jan 16, 2019 by

Over the holidays, I found three packages displayed on a free-hanging rack at the end of an aisle, but not in a prepackaged display unit. The product was several combinations of individual use or trial size sets of bottled seasonings – Let’s Get Grilling, Italian Kitchen and Popcorn Toppers, thematically grouped and concisely packaged with handles that I assumed were for easy portability. The three variations were assembled in a uniform structural format that was well engineered to tightly secure the product within, minimizing the potential for damage or breakage.


Without a doubt, the innovative packaging drew my curiosity. I’m sure this was the outcome the packaging team hoped to achieve – engage the consumer and then inspire a purchase, which I did – one of each flavor grouping. Because of its unique presentation, my imagination immediately started to run with ways to use or include this in my holiday plans. The longer I handled the packaging, the more I was impressed by the thought that went into its construction, and the ability this simple but effective approach had in standing apart from traditional seasoning packaging.

Yet, there is nothing highly complex about this sturdy rectangular carton with die cuts on the side panels to expose and secure individual bottles that are then tipped into the package. The handles reinforce the sides of the structure, adding enough rigidity to keep the interior bottles in place within the package. Each package is then distinguished by images visually linking them thematically to the composition of spice mix in that package. The caps on the interior bottles use color to link back to the concepts of the spice themes as well, creating a well-organized system to communicate to the customer. Taking the concept one step further, they incorporate simple designs onto the handles of the package, utilizing highly recognizable images associated with the theme of the spice mix – icons of a grill, movie ticket, etc.

Here was an interesting new approach to a product category, however the packaging was missing something. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it, and then it dawned on me – unique, attention-grabbing packaging with a definite shelf presence – but falling short of connecting me with a brand. In fact, it was packaging essentially without a brand – a rare case where structure and graphic design alone sold the product.

Not long ago, McCormick tried a similar concept, offering prepackaged spice combinations as Recipe Inspirations – recipe cards including pre-measured spices recommended for inclusion in the recipe printed on the card. What was different was that McCormick used the strength of the McCormick master brand to identify and validate the product. The idea offered an opportunity for the inexperienced or timid cook to explore new flavors under the name and assurance of the McCormick brand – which, when all is said and done is as important as the content itself.

If I could do one thing to improve the ultimate effectiveness of this packaging idea, it would be to create a brand identity and a solid brand story to unify the products in a brand family. I’m surprised this packaging was as well thought out as it is without it. It will be interesting to see whether this was just a one-off idea or whether this becomes a legitimate brand contender in the category!


If you are thinking of exploring innovative packaging, contact us at 920-886-7727 or  Throughout our 60 plus years of supporting customers with consumer brands large and small, we apply our experience and expertise to the entire process to create efficient and effective solutions. 

 The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.