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Brand differentiation and packaging: What’s in it for brands?

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Brand differentiation and packaging: What’s in it for brands?

When a brand’s commitment and values are mirrored in packaging design, it doesn’t just make the brand more distinctive at shelf point – it also makes the brand itself an extension of the consumer’s own lifestyle.

Inspired by recent University of Parma research on how packaging design drives brand differentiation and product enhancement, our seventh “Future Made Clear” live Q&A session saw Michelle Gibbons, Director General of AIM – the European Brands Association, Elie Papiernik from design agency Centdegrés, and spirits EUROPE’s Ulrich Adam join FEVE’s Adeline Farrelly to speak about role of packaging in the 21st century as a brand communication vehicle and how it enhances consumer experience.


Missed the live session? Catch up on LinkedIn, or read our event recap below.


Brand recognition is a reputational asset that must be earned

Packaging serves many functions, from extending shelf life to keeping products intact in transport, but also plays a vital role in brand recognition. On entering a store or scanning a crowded bar cabinet, today’s consumer is greeted with dozens of competing product varieties and designs, all vying for attention. In a competitive marketplace, packaging is more than just a wrapper: it’s an opportunity to embed your brand in the buyer’s mind and communicate your commitments, values, and vision.

 “Brands mean something different to everyone. To some, it’s just a name, while to others, it may be a trademark or “trust mark” of consistent quality. For a branded company, it is both the most valuable and intangible business asset.”- Michelle Gibbons


Packaging design is your brand ambassador

Research shows that the average consumer reads no more than 8 words on a label, making split-second decisions. This makes packaging the brand ambassador on the shelf, adding instant recognition while helping tell the brand’s story – and this impression can be enriched by distinctive packaging that conveys identity, values and commitments. Take Chanel’s vision of femininity through elegant, minimalist design, versus Jean Paul Gautier’s highly decorative look: in both cases, the brand’s soul is encapsulated non-verbally on the packaging design, each appealing to consumers in a different way. This is how the most iconic companies set themselves apart.

 That’s why, together with the University of Parma, FEVE took a deeper look into the importance of packaging design in brand differentiation and product enhancement. As the packaging sector witnesses a push towards standardisation, we explore the role of shapes, colours, textures, and more in harnessing consumers’ attention and delivering a sensorial experience they won’t forget.


Brands helps orient us in a jungle of products

Take spirits: in Ulrich Adam’s view, branding spirits boils down to three elements:

1. Diversity: Consumers look for recognisable brands to navigate a jungle of products – while the right packaging and branding helps emerging spirits brands stand out from the global heavyweights, and add diversity to a home collector’s bar cabinet.

2. Premiumisation: With liquor a high added value commodity for consumers, a sense of aspiring to a premium product – in an equally distinctive package – drives the spirits sector.

3. Consumer experience: Customers who buy spirits often seek connection with the region’s heritage through the product’s philosophy, reflected in the full package.


This is where packaging can shine. A distillery’s craftsmanship and history are reflected in the packaging – making glass a natural fit for the spirits industry. Glass is a brand in its own right, coming out ahead on a number of purchasing criteria including quality, design, and enjoyment of drinking or gifting. That’s why 92% of spirits are stored in glass packaging. And it isn’t limited to spirits: a recent French study showed wine sold in glass creates more value compared to ‘bag-in-box’ packaging. It’s why glass packaging has continued to appeal to generation after generation of consumers. For wine, fragrances, spirits and more, the packaging is an extension of the product, evoking all our senses.

“Packaging is like choosing a dish in a restaurant. First you read a poetic text in which you’re sold the magic of what you are going to taste. Then you see the beauty of the plate, like a sculpture that impresses your eyes. Then you smell, and then you taste. For packaging it’s the same.”  – Elie Papiernik



Sustainability gives packaging a bigger role than ever

With sustainability commitments driving today’s business strategy, brands are leading the charge for a greener future. This means packaging design must be more than just a technical and practical choice; it must also be consumer-centric, drive innovation while remaining sustainable, and add to the overall retail experience.

“Fundamentally, we need packaging. It is a key element in helping consumers go green because it helps them achieve their own personal sustainability goals by giving them more choices, and communicating what sustainable choices mean.” – Michelle Gibbons

In this context, sustainability is a creative opportunity where brands, designers, and creative talents can stand out from the crowd and add meaning. That’s why the Glass Hallmark was created as a quality mark for glass – standing for inertness, recyclability and reusability, as well as being a visual symbol of our shared commitment to sustainability.

At its heart, branding is both a reputational asset and a differentiator, and the role of packaging as a brand communications vehicle is more relevant than ever for strong, convincing brands. That’s why we must enable brands and companies that want to stand out through packaging to do so – because ultimately, we really do judge a book by its cover.


Did you pick up on any new information about brand differentiation and packaging? Do you believe that glass packaging can help brands differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace? Head over to LinkedIn and let us know! To keep up to date with the latest trends in the glass industry or our upcoming Q&As, don’t forget to follow our LinkedIn account.

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