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Neurodesign: How Science Plays a Part in Superb Packaging

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/27/2017 | 4 Minute Read

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In today’s world there are always brands competing to become the number one consumer’s choice for just about any product, from beans to cars and beyond. Brand names have the ability to create sales as well as influence a customer to make one purchase over the other. However, there are many other reasons for the success of a product.

Everything from packaging color to the shape will influence the consumer and subconsciously pull a consumer in favor of one product. If you pull aside 50 random people in a supermarket and ask them, “Why did you choose this product?” most wouldn’t be able to give you a definitive answer. They’d say something along the lines of “I’m not sure... It’s just better.”

The reason people make purchases without any apparent reasoning behind it is because of Neurodesign: designing packaging and products to appeal to the consumer mind. You may have created the best visual design in the world, but if it doesn’t appeal to the consumer’s brain, then it’s pointless.

Neurodesign uses an understanding of the human brain that we have developed over the past 20 years to create products, packaging, and even websites that are more intuitive experiences for the consumer. It does this by examining how our brain perceives each design and product. For example, studies by the University of Manchester and Leeds Beckett University showed that even something like the font used to present instructions on medical packaging can affect how those instructions are perceived. They discovered that simple, easier-to-read fonts were perceived as superior than fonts used to further the aesthetic of the product.

It’s not just in medical packaging either; research revealed in a post by neuromarketing.com showed that people estimate it would take twice as long to perform a set of instructions written in brushy (a “fancy” font) compared to Arial (a simple, sans-serif font). This demonstrates just how important it is to appeal to the consumers mind, not just their eye.

When considering making a purchase there are five key factors that will ultimately make up a consumer’s perception of a product:

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Odor
  • Sound

Each factor stimulates a different part of the customer’s brain and evokes different responses. When a consumer considers purchasing your product their first impression is made via sight, often from across an aisle or even in a recommendation box online. Hence, designers need to focus on understanding how the subconscious brain communicates with your eyes and how you will perceive their product within the first few seconds of seeing it.

When a person first notices a product on the shelf, their brain automatically determines if it looks visually appealing or not. Without even interacting with your product, a potential customer could decide against it and move on to another. Your brain takes into account color, shape, and size without you actually consciously thinking about it—from that one glance, it uses the information to build an image in your mind, and automatically you have a vision as to whether it’s going to be a good or bad product based on how it makes your brain and body feel.

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Take the McDonald’s logo: it stimulates hunger and thoughts of food (yellow has the power to evoke those feelings of hunger in your mind). Now imagine it, except this time make the sign blue and the font bulky. Your brain automatically finds the blue, bulky logo less appealing and your perception changes, all based on those seemingly small factors. Designers can use the natural instincts people feel towards products to their advantage, whether it be a logo or a website.

Ultimately, colors, shapes and more influence the brain and cause you to feel a certain way when you interact with a product. This in turn creates the impulse to buy it or leave it. A designer needs to spend time analyzing colors and the various emotions and feelings they inspire when paired together, along with shapes, messages, and fonts—all in order to make a product stand out to the brain of the consumer.

So next time you look at the packaging of your favorite product think about the science it, and ask yourself: “Why do I buy this one?”

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Declan Darbyshire works on behalf of Direct Packaging Solutions—manufacturer and supplier of packaging supplies worldwide—in content creation and marketing. He creates engaging graphics and content for the business that help them stand out from the crowd. Over the past 3 years he has worked with many SME’s and agencies in this role.