Are you using feature symbols on your packaging?

May 3, 2018By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing

by Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager 

People don’t want to read anymore. We knew this was coming, didn’t we? First we went from hand-written letters to emails, which tended to be much shorter. Soon emails became too long and we moved to text messages and tweets – bite-sized bits of copy that got the main point across. And then came emojis – symbols that expressed a person’s mood.Feature symbols

We see the same trends in packaging and marketing materials, and never was it so obvious to me as it was at Natural Products Expo West last year. Here are a few of my observations.

  1. Every company represents features through different symbols – there is no standard. Paleo might be represented as a “P” or with forks. Cruelty Free might be represented with a dog or with a bunny. Gluten Free might have a wheat stalk with a line through it or the abbreviation “GF.”
  2. Some companies stretch the same feature. I saw one brand that claimed to be Chemical Free. But next to this symbol was also Pesticide Free and Herbicide Free. It left me wondering, aren’t pesticides and herbicides also chemicals? Chemical Free should have covered it, but splitting it out gave them three symbols instead of one. I guess the more the merrier?
  3. Features are main points of differentiation for similar products. Brands visually show as many features as they can hoping their product has a feature that a similar product does not.

If your product doesn’t contain symbols that represent its features, consider this addition. Throughout 2017, I began to see this on more mainstream packaging as well. This trend is gaining steam quickly.