Understanding the dominant and the subtle part of packaging design through Semiotics
How are you doing?
Today, I am going to mention a topic to which you would relate. I have been in the packaging industry for over a decade and a half, but this section never fails to amaze me.
A couple of days ago, I was reading an article and came across an example of how information given in the packaging was misleading to customers. So I thought to bring the topic to light once again from the converter’s point of view.
My 16 years of experience and travelling to various nations have a lot to contribute to having keen eyes that pick unique projects. As a global shrink sleeve expert and author of two books, “Sleeve it Right” and “5 Myths about Sustainable Shrink Sleeves,” my obsession with exploring packaging dimensions has lead me to learn the ins and outs of shrink sleeve.
Packaging is a very large branch that is a mix of industrial engineering, marketing, material science, and important industry-specific aspects.
Hence, what you communicate on the packaging is not restricted to mere information, it is a great deal and makes a lot of difference. Semiotics is the part of packaging that is leading this concept. Now a days, effective packaging concepts have been overruled by packaging that gives a wow factor. It is not new to see a few products fail to connect with target customers. They are eye-catching, but getting the correct meaning from the pack is a challenge. Semiotic packaging simplifies such objections. In simple terms, semiotics is the way to communicate with your client through human experience, i.e., through written linguistics, visual, audio, sensorial, gestural, and spatial patterns.
A customer has very limited time while scanning the supermarket aisle. If it’s too short to read even a brand name, then how are they supposed to make the correct decision? Yet they pick the best-suited product for themselves. This is where semiotics plays its part. Let’s take a few examples of brands where semiotics played it very smoothly and won the client’s trust.
Remember when our atta used to come in a brown woven sac? “Aashirvaad atta” did the same with its brand in the atta pack. It may not have been the most attractive packaging, but it was definitely nostalgic and close enough to be picked up by consumers who would recall it.
Another example where semiotics has a clean sweep is “Dove Beauty Bar” Dove packaging has nothing but the key element that depicts its source and Purity concept. Except for the milk and the icon, it has nothing on the cover. Where above were the examples of a design for packaging, let’s understand the part where the product gives a confusing message. For instance when you are not able to get the form of product you want, like tea that is loose or in tea bags? Jellies you pick came out to be bath toys.
The above are instances that show us how the use of spatial and sensorial patterns like strong colors, connotations, and implicit meaning is necessary for the consumer’s buying interest. If you closely look, every step helps you get the semiotic design in packaging. From the substrate and shape of the bottle to the color, symbols, and content, every small or big part has knowingly or unknowingly contributed to aesthetics and is an underlying part of brand identity. And semiotics is very much leading it.
It would be very prejudiced to consider semiotics to have a limited scope. It helps you define the product variation in different geographies. The same brand in the US, UK, and India has different packaging. And its relevance is easily communicated through this. It also confirms the user—the brand, culture, and specific information.
Like any other industry, “the devil lies in the details.”, Packaging seems so simple and easy, yet its “behind the scenes” part is quite illustrative. One must have passion to go in depth and to take out the pearls of packaging.