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Adam Butler packaging

Dreading your packaging redesign? Let joy spark the process

Behold, an easy exercise to intuitively spark your redesign process.

You used to brim with excitement when you handed your package to a buyer or potential customer. But that feeling has faded. Lets call it "excitement erosion." This feeling is natural and is caused by shifts in the marketplace that are no fault of your own: Design trends have migrated, competition has become more fierce, people’s diets have evolved. There are many reasons you’ve lost that loving feeling.

Addressing this challenge can be overwhelming in the face of the day-to-day work you already have. And getting everyone on the same page internally can be a grind as well. It might be time for help from an outside design firm—but you’re not quite sure where to start that process either.

What if there was a powerfully intuitive way to begin your packaging redesign process? One that could provide some strategic clarity internally and also tee you up well for engaging a design firm down the road, should you choose to do so.

Based on the work of organizing consultant Marie Kondo, here’s a drill that allows you to ask a very simple question about each element of your current packaging presentation (icons, logos, taglines, USP’s, claims, certifications, associations and form factor). The question is, "Does this element of our packaging bring me joy?" That’s it. Rather than clinically audit each element in isolation, this exercise will empower your team to fluidly process all of the elements together, unlocking your powerful diversity of knowledge at once.

The “KonMari Sort” drill works like this: 

Prework

  • Define all existing packaging presentation elements (icons, logos, taglines, USP’s, claims, certifications, associations and form factor) and print each one out on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. You should expect to see 15 to 20 elements.
  • Locate a short primer video on the KonMari method or purchase her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, if you’re feeling ambitious.
  • Invite a nice cross section of your team from sales, marketing and operations and marketing. Five to seven people is ideal. Tell them you have fun drill that will take about an hour. Team invitation?

Prep

  • Spread all of the printed packaging presentation elements out on the floor in no particular order.
  • Prepare seven small green sticker dots (Avery ¼” stickers) for each team member participating in the drill.
  • Provide one Sharpie and one Post-it pad for each team member participating in the drill.

Process

  • Let your team know that you are going to KonMari Sort the elements of your packaging. Explain the KonMari method briefly in your own words or by sharing a short video.
  • Hand each team member seven green dots.
  • Prompt each team member to vote by placing their dot on the elements that "bring them joy" when they look at them, giving them a total of three minutes to complete the task.
  • Remove all of the un-dotted elements from the floor and put them away.
  • Hang all of the items that received a vote up on a wall or bulletin board.
  • Prompt a discussion about why each of the remaining elements received votes, having each team member write their thought on a post-it and then share it aloud as they place it on the corresponding piece of paper.
  • Photo document all of the work and transcribe it for sharing later.

It will come as no surprise that many of the elements that bring you joy are ones that you’ve received positive customer feedback on in the past. Or they are ones that are truly differentiating you in your category. These things often drive sales. And hopefully you will also see that many of the elements you’ve given too much primacy to on package are ones that are simply “me too” propositions that made it to package out of a sense of obligation or fear. These can be given a much smaller role on package in the future, if any at all.

This drill isn’t everything you’ll need to consider in the process of redesigning your packaging, but it’s certainly a high-energy beginning. It creates momentum. Consider running the same drill with a group of your core customers to see what brings them joy. Combining their results with those from your team will help inform a strategic brief for how you might redesign your packaging in a way that sparks more joy on shelf and ultimately hits your topline.

Adam Butler is the founder and strategic chief at The Butler Bros, a brand design studio that delivers radical collaboration to those who are ready to refine or redefine their brand in pursuit of growth. By unlocking the ingenuity of teams, running lean research, and discarding titles in pursuit of design solutions they move at the speed of the ever-changing marketplace. You’re invited to have a rad collab [email protected]

Join The Butler Bros at Esca Bona this year. Adam and Marty Butler are emcees and event collaborators helping host for the third consecutive year.

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