Package Findings: “That’s Smart” Speaks to Simplicity on Shelf

Posted on Oct 28, 2021 by

In the middle of the confused economy where supplies are low and product is having a difficult time getting to market, the battle for shelf impact is more difficult than ever – whether it is in a physical setting or through an online site. The competition is extremely high for that visual niche a product desires to own.

My most recent shopping venture was at a relatively small store without all the bells and whistles of a larger store but it still carried multiple brands in addition to their own brand, giving each equal presence on shelf.  I marveled at the variety of products. In the middle of it all, once again, I was stopped by the simple visual quiet of That’s Smart! prepackaged pasta and cheese dinners.

The carton was a simple box – but the graphics were what made the case. This was a very deliberate choice to stay away from highly decorative packaging and stand alone using a simple, direct visual message and minimal copy associated with a solid brand presence.

Representing a solid design system and visual hierarchy, the packages are designed to be “tumble” packs in their orientation with top, bottom and side panels reading naturally as you spin the package, eliminating the necessity of turning panels to make them legible.

The back panels are well organized but my recommendation would be to use the extra space to include the visual design elements from the panel or include icons on how to prepare or assemble the product.

From the consumer standpoint, this concept is appealing as it delivers a package that is easily identifiable on the shelf.  But does this overly simple approach achieve the elegance of design needed to create and reinforce a brand image that communicates a brand promise and strength? Not to say there isn’t a role product can play as basics, but I feel the design has pared the brand messaging down a little too far – making the package so basically generic that the primary brand message is one of economy.

That being said, this package has a great deal going for it. Its streamlined, consistent and minimal use of iconographic images and typography reinforce the instant legibility of the package, and demonstrates you don’t need complexity to achieve a solid brand design and help the consumer anticipate additional options of flavor and style.  However, as simplified as this package design is, I think it could be strengthened by creating a more dynamic design solution that promotes differentiation from competitive brands, and reinforces brand perception that will generate brand loyalty.


If you are looking for a team to support your commitment to delivering packaging that will ensure your product’s success, we invite you to start a conversation with us by contacting us at

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


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