The Two Second Test

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In a huge super centre, there may well be a million different packaged products on sale - so when a product package may be only a few centimetres in height and overall size, how can it hope to be seen?

Consumers are also less brand loyal than ever before, and are likely to switch between brands as price and availability become variables in the mix.

Again this points to the importance of the packaging design, as a key component in overall purchase behaviour.

At Brandname Properties Design, we have developed what we call the '2 second rule'.

What this relates to is the time it takes to identify the brand and the offering.

If it takes a person longer than this to work out what is being sold, or they are even slightly confused by what is being offered, then rather than spend the time to find out, or ask for assistance in store, they simply move on, and purchase something else.

Speed in the communication, meaning 'how fast can I recognise and understand what is being presented', we class as being one of the most important criteria for successful packaging design.

In order to achieve this we have developed what we call a 'hierarchy of information' which is based on the level of importance of the words or graphics on the pack.

This may be a singular focus on the 'brand image' (see Power Branding), but it is also a holistic approach which takes into account that 'brand image' is created through a number of factors both in isolation and also combination.

McDonalds has a brand image, not just a brand

Cadbury owns the colour purple in the chocolate area

Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Shell Petroleum are all examples of this - where these brands are identified through words, colours, shape, graphics to create full graphic brand image identities.

Coca-Cola also has a brand image. It doesn't have simply a brand

Even if you saw a flattened can of Coca-Cola, upside down on a beach, you could still identify it as Coke, even at a distance. This is brand imaging at its best. The 2 second rule and speed of communication also applies, and of course if we saw the can we would recycle it!

For many years, Pepsi-Cola tried to market themselves in a Red, white and Blue can, modelled on the USA flag colours. It was only when they dumped the Red, and adopted 'Blue' that Pepsi-Cola began to establish their own package and brand identity. They also took this 'image' into music promotion and other advertising material. The packaging has been through several re designs, and different promotional campaigns, but there is always a focus on the Blue.

In many situations, marketers have multiple messages to communicate. The way out of this dilemma, without cluttering the pack is to decide on the hierarchy. What is most important, and which is least. There are many times when the information can be communicated through a photo or shape inference, and still communicate.

The take out from this is to say that not all communication is in words.

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Article written August 2003
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