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Patterns - a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories


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Patterns is a series of professional observations about package design practices within specific product categories - brought to you by the design team at R.BIRD.

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Combined into a 220-page full-color Paperback or PDF: All 11 reports, including this one, have been updated with new observations, image galleries, brand and keyword indexes.

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Featured in this report:

Brands referenced include: Back to Nature, Ben & Jerry, Blue Bunny, Butterfinger Crisp, Cap'n Crunch, Caribou Coffee, Cary's, Cascadian Farm, Cheese Nips, Cheetos, Cocoa Pebbles, Crisp'itz, Crispy Delites, Doritos, Food Should Taste Good, Frito Lay, Garden of Eatin, General Mills, Giga Hold, Goldfish, Good Humor, grape-nuts, Gripz, Healthy Delite, Heart Basics, Hershey, Kashi, Keebler, Kellogg's, Kit Kat, Krackel, Kraft, Krispy Kreme, Lunchables, Madhouse Munchies, Masterfoods, McCormick, Nabisco, Nature's Path, Nestle Crunch, New York Style, Old El Paso, Optimum Zen, Oscar Mayer, Pepperidge Farm, Post, Quaker, Rice Krispies, Salad Toppins, Snickers Cruncher, Stop & Shop, Sun Snacks, Tiny Trapeze, TLC, Wheat Thins, Whole Foods, Wise, YoCrunch.

01 - Overview

Our observations include the brands shown above. These products can be found in most retail supermarkets, health food, and big box superstores.

02 - Environment

The above images were taken at area supermarkets in metropolitan New York City. Crunchy products can be found throughout the store in baked goods, cookies & crackers, cereals, candy, breakfast and dairy categories.

03 - Windows

Sometimes, gorgeous illustrations or photography can lead to a let down for consumers who demand truth in advertising for the products they purchase. An honest, what you see is what you get, approach could be well worth it for good looking products. Clear windows allow consumers to see the actual product.

Response: Window shapes can be further enhanced with rough edges or irregular shapes to help support the crunchy look.

04 - Background Texture

Background textures add a layer of depth to package graphics in support of “crunch.” Burlap textures, raised dots, festive patterns and other graphic devices can all contribute to “mouth feel” for the product before consumers have had a chance to taste.

Response: Patterns and textures on the package are a great way to mimic physical product attributes and give consumers a sense of taste and texture through visual symbols and metaphor.

05 - Product Illustration

One of the most effective ways to communicate crunch is through close-up photography or detailed illustration. Carefully placed illustrations along with “missing bite”, cereal-on-a-spoon and torn package pours are a few tricks that continue to work.

Response: While designers often cringe at the thought of using these cliché product presentations, marketers hate to mess with success. When illustrated or photographed in a unque style, consumers respond positively to mouth-watering product images.

06 - White

Several brands use a clean white field to provide contrast and let the product image communicate crunch more effectively. This unadorned presentation keeps the focus on the grain, texture and nuances of the product.

Response: While presentation on white is an effective way to put focus on texture and grain, it also is a common technique among organic, or natural foods. Words like “clean”, “crisp” and “snappy” come to mind for packages using this technique.

07 - Energy

Kinetic swirls, explosions, bursts and food fly everywhere. Portraying food in a fun and explosive way connects with young consumers who crave the crunch. BAM!

Response: Soft & swirly graphics communicate smooth & creamy attributes, while edgy and loud graphics communicate crispy and crunchy.

08 - Lettering

Animated and illustrated typography can support the crunch factor with blocky bold shapes, textures and distressed graphic edges.

Response: Opportunities abound for character and brand building through animated lettering. Avoid “out-of-the-box” typesetting.

09 - Color

Warm coloring seems to dominate, although, there are always exceptions. By nature of crunchy foods, which are generally baked or contain baked pieces, warm colors are obvious choices that support a wholesome crunch promise.

Response: Carefully consider alternatives to mainstream coloring for differentiation. While warm color dominates, heros in the category - like Nestles and Rice Krispies - use predominantly blue packaging.

10 - Brand Characters

While not specifically related to crunch, the use of characters helps consumers make a connection with a brand. Snap Crackle and Pop, the Cap’n and others have become synonymous with the crunchy brands they represent.

Response: A memorable brand character can be a great vehicle for promotion. Strong character development plus time and advertising support equals long term results.

11 - Hard Things in Soft Things

Many foods by nature are simply not crunchy, but offer an excellent complement to crunchy foods. Yogurts, ice creams, cakes and cookies are products that combine smooth, velvety textures along with some true grit.

Response: If you can’t be crunchy, then get a partner who is.

12 - Not Quite Crunchy

While we found many examples of “crunch” in the food stores, several items which you would expect to look crunchy, just were not. Many lines follow strict formats for branding that ignore or conflict with inherent product qualities.

Response: Brand architecture may need to be more flexible to allow for support of unique product attributes.

13 - Crunch Masters

A handful of products are immediately associated with Crunch. Nestlé owns the word outright, while Cap’n Crunch, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and Hershey’s Krackel all send shooting pains through teeth at the mention of their names.

Response: Clarity of brand presentation is visible. Changes to these brands are handled with kid gloves and in incremental steps. Advertising dollars and lots of marketing exposure can help you achieve “master” status.

14 - Crunch Graphics

Cracked edges, rough and distressed borders, woodcuts and the like add hand-hewn looked that is so often associated with crunch. Images of whole grains, if applicable, are also seen woven into background patterns and typography to support naturally crunchy products, like cereals.

Response: Crunch graphics work best when balanced with some smooth clean lines.Too much of a crunchy thing can be overbearing, not to mention, unappetizing.

15 - Crispy vs. Crunchy

Which is crunchier or crispier?

Response: Snickers cruncher has “crispies”, SugarCrisp is “crunchy”, and Krispy Kremes aren’t crispy or crunchy, “K’s” seem to be crispier and crunchier than “C’s”. On a related note: Counterpoint pairs, like, Krispy Kreme and Icy Hot, create an attention getting paradox. What does it all mean and why do we ponder such things?

16 - Other Crunches

Crunch is not only found in foods. Crunch is hot in everyday objects and services: Gyms, Hair Gel, Hair Scrunching Mousse, exfoliating soap bar etc.

Response: Cross promotion and co-marketing can help extend recognition of brands beyond their core audiences and into far-reaching categories.


On January 6 -csnyder said...

The ideal Krispy Kreme is crunchy on the outside, smooth and eggy on the inside.

When purchased fresh from the big machine in one of their retail stores, the glazed sugar is dry and crisp. Unfortunately the boxed version sold in supermarkets has time to go soggy.

Consumers may very well be responding to their memories of fresh, crunchy KK donuts when purchasing the sad, soggy version in other stores.

On July 6 Robert said...

i love this site.

On November 12 Janus said...

very good!!thanks~!!

On February 27 Anonymous said...

The idea of Krispy Kreme being crunchy when fresh is actually inaccurate. I worked for Krispy Kreme several years ago and really Fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts are not crunchy at all when they first come off the fryer, they are hot and soft and gooey, and they practically melt in your mouth. They get that faint crispness only after cooling completely.

On April 11 Sharon L said...

This site was required viewing for my AIO class. I am sorely disappointed at the brevity of the information presented here … hardly worth the visit.

On April 11 Richard Bird said...

@Sharon L

I am surprised by your response, as a student, Sharon. You can only defend your position with evidence: Greater detail (vs. brevity) of the information presented. Make it “worth the visit.”

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