Category News & Work

Should we judge a brand by its cover?


Brands and Interaction

…a jar of sauce by its label, a shop by its TV ad, a cereal by its packaging – you get the idea.

As a designer, I often judge a book by its cover. I am seduced by the texture of the paper or the way the typography works with a striking illustration, frequently outweighing my interest evoked by the blurb on the back cover.

Sometimes it is believed that advertising and design in the retail market is somehow tricking unsuspecting people into being sold into an idea, product or brand. With this is mind, as a graphic designer working for an advertising agency, you would think I would be exempt by knowing the ‘tricks of the trade’.

The Con Artist Brand

We are all aware that one type of dried pasta is not too dissimilar to the brand on the shelf above. Only yesterday I heard a woman assuring her partner ‘…I watched a programme on it, I think it’s all the same stuff’.  Still, we are prepared to pay more to a greater or lesser extent based on the messages and visual language presented to us on the shelves.

I am guilty of throwing items into my basket ‘one-step’ up from the value brand with a slightly more detailed label, maybe featuring an image rather than just one block of colour (maybe this is saying more about what I want my perceived status to be, rather than my preference to the packaging itself). I surprised myself at my reaction to the redesign of Tesco Everyday Value brand last year. The branding came into line with current trends of bold colours and silhouetted shapes, leading me to happily add them into my basket when I wouldn’t have thought twice about associating with their blue and white ancestors.

In contrast, an occasional visit to Waitrose is a dangerous one for me, walking down the aisles prompts a sudden desire to own the complete baking range – just because it would look lovely in my kitchen. These organic looking cardboard packages with pleasing coloured inks unarguably look appealing, even when we know we pay more for this due to the seducing packaging with its promise of greater quality.

Brand Packaging











The Brand that Cares

I think that the way something is wrapped, packaged, branded, and talked about is representative of its quality and not just a smoke screen. A company that values its brand and appreciates well-considered design is one that acquires my attention in a crowded market place.

I maybe in the small minority that keeps a bottle on my window sill because I like the label, or buys lettuce because it is in a nice bag, but good design does sell, and influences our decisions because it is another reflection of the brands values.

On occasion when the packaging has superseded my enthusiasm for the product – I don’t regret those books I judged by their cover I have never finished reading, because I still enjoy looking at them on my shelf.

Marie Lawley – Middle Weight Designer