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Graphic Design USA Magazine

Tag "packaging"

Guest Blog Post by Jenn David Connolly
Creative Strategist at Jenn David Design

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I was recently discussing how color affects the brain when eating foods. As soon as I dove into how flavor, color, perception and taste are intricately linked, I knew I had the makings for an interesting article on the topic.

What we expect and what we see.

Taste and color are primarily ingrained in us as babies when we are introduced to foods for the first time, and our brain starts making connections between the two. These links in essence become deep-rooted within us and therefore are difficult to change. Broccoli is green, strawberries are red, lemons are yellow—fairly basic stuff.

When we encounter a food package that visually communicates the flavor, we call upon our ingrained links and associate with that flavor, because we recognize it and are familiar with it. We understand that a product with a purple label, especially when it has grapes on it, is going to be grape in flavor.

The slim window of opportunity.

A product has only 2–3 seconds to engage on a retail shelf, and the flavor expectation is one less thing the consumer has to decipher when the taste they can expect is visually communicated. This understanding is essential because there is a lot of information that the consumer needs to sort through when deciding to purchase a product. If the information is poorly displayed, they are not going to buy the product.

When the flavor is easy to process, we understand and relate to it. We subconsciously draw up past experience with the flavor and apply it in that moment to the food. The consumer can then move past this understanding to further connect with the product.

When flavor doesn’t connect.

If the flavor is not visually conveyed well on the package, we have to read the label, process the information and then understand what type of flavor or taste experience the product will create. When it takes more effort for the consumer to comprehend, the sale is less likely to happen.

Have you ever seen a line of products that all have the same exact look and design, but only the information is different? You have to spend time and effort reading each label to understand what it is. However if the product is visually communicated in addition to the text, the consumer can interpret and distinguish with ease by sight only, without the need to read the information.

Going further, if the color is not in sync the flavor, such as a purple color cue for an orange-flavored food, the disconnect can even deter the consumer away from the product. The clash creates a certain level of confusion, even if subconsciously, which can cause an aversion.

Learned color-flavor associations.

Consumers also learn other color-flavor connections by colors commonly seen on those flavor products. Consider this: the packaging color used to denote the flavor on many cookies-and-cream flavored foods (such as ice cream) is dark blue because consumers have learned—whether they realize it or not—to equate that color with the Oreo cookies package.

If such color-flavor associations in the retail environment are commonplace to the consumer, then other brands and products can utilize that norm to strengthen their product’s understanding with the consumer.

There are many flavors and flavor combinations that consumers have become used to seeing a certain color for—even if the connection is subconscious—so it’s important to do proper research before beginning a food product design to see what familiarity you can leverage.

The design should still wow.

While you want the taste of the product to visually meet expectations and be easy to comprehend, you still want the design of the product to be distinctive on the shelf. If the entire package design meets the expected image for that type of product, then the product becomes tiresome. The intersection of knowing which expectations to meet and when to go against the grain creates a winning package.

Of course there may be exceptions the rule, however most packaged food products will benefit from employing common color-flavor associations.

Packaging is the key link.

The product’s packaging is the gateway between the consumer and the product, and is an essential function of a successful food product. The more you can utilize existing conventions, the deeper the relationship with the consumer, and the more attracted the consumer is to the product.

When a product’s package supports the flavor visually—both consciously and subconsciously—we are better able to understand and process it, and even crave or salivate over its flavor, and therefore are more likely to purchase it when considering it in a retail environment.

Is your packaging employing the right strategies?

Jenn David Design partners with gourmet food and specialty brands to create powerful, distinct, cohesive design that commands attention and makes an impact. How can we take your brand where you want it to go?

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Halloween is right around the corner, so of course I can’t stop thinking about candy. Here are 6 tantalizing package designs that have kept me salivating while I wait for the real treats to arrive.



Jealous Sweets, designed by London’s B&B studio, will inspire envy in every would-be Willy Wonka. Giftability, desirability and improved natural cues are helping the brand bring grown-up credibility to candy. See more here.


happy pills

Happy Pills,designed by Marion Donneweg, were created for a candy shop in Barcelona. Rather than using bags, customers use jars and pill cases to store their candy purchases. There have been some rants about the dangers of candy looking like medicine but if you read the fine print it’s all in good fun and who doesn’t need a little sugar therapy. Either way, use it as an excuse to keep the candy away from your children.

mast brothers

I can’t miss an opportunity to share the packaging of Mast Brothers chocolate bars. Designed inhouse at their Brooklyn NY outpost, these bars are wrapped in beautifully patterned paper matched with simple clean labels. The best part of this package is the delicious chocolate inside.

hammonds 1

Hammond’s first started making candy over 90 years ago. But not just any candy. They made favorites kids have fantasized over for generations. So when it was time to rebrand the company, Ellen Bruss Design wanted to blend their history with who they are today. Learn more about the collaboration here.

Fling_Packs 01_640

Fling is a chocolate bar for the calorie-conscious, chocolate-loving fashionista. Designed by Anchalee Chambundabongse, while at BBDO, Fling is a chocolate lover’s guilty pleasure, without the calories. Like sinning without guilt.


I’m not really sure why Maria Sharapova is qualified to own a candy company but the results are a big hit. Red Antler, the Brooklyn NY branding firm, created an identity, packaging and website for the tennis player’s premium gummy candy line. The goal was to, represent “the sweet, fashionable side of this tennis icon.” Read more about this project here.

I’d love to see some of your favorite sweet package designs in the comments section. Happy Halloween!

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Guest Blog Post by Ben Steele, Hornall Anderson

These days, a trip down the beer aisle can be downright overwhelming — with mainstream and craft brewers all vying for consumer attention in an increasingly crowded space. Consumers are demanding distinctive package design and true innovation.

The question is … are designers listening?

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From GDUSA Contributor Hornall Anderson

The season is upon us. It’s time to prepare for an avalanche of snowflakes and snowmen, rivers of red and green, and more twinkling lights than you can shake a candy cane at. It’s also time to prepare for the inevitable backlash against all this commercialized holiday cheer. But take heart! Holidays and other special occasions provide brands with a license to put aside their typical constraints and innovate. It’s also an opportunity to drive incredible sales performance. Icons like Coke and Starbucks have been capitalizing on holiday cheer and holiday spending habits for decades, and you can too. Here are some best practices for staying above the holiday fray and showing consumers a new side of your brand.

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