Design Principles

Website Addresses and Primary Packages

Posted: October 17, 2009

Website addresses might be useful for special promotions (like the Coke Rewards program), but is the front of a package the right place for company homepage website addresses (like the front of the Pepsi 12-oz. can)? We asked a panel of experts their opinions on this topic.

Scott Power, managing principal of Man One Design, Los Angeles, CA

For a package design to be strategic and relevant for consumers, the brand owner must ask consumers to validate any package design. If a majority of a brand's consumers indicate they want or need the website address on the front on the package, then it should be on the front of the package.

However, from a design and communications standpoint, packaging billboards today are often too cluttered to justify adding a web address. The brand's URL should certainly be found elsewhere on the package to help facilitate a relationship online with purchasers. If the website address was on the front panel, the type size would most likely be too small for the consumer to notice on-shelf and would not likely make any measurable difference in driving the purchasing decisions of today's hurried consumers.

One possible exception might be a specific offline/online promotional strategy that uses the front of the pack to entice the consumer into buying the product with an incentive of an additional value-add online. In the future, as Web 2.0 gains traction, it is entirely possible URLs will become irrelevant in terms of finding brands on-line. Even now, web-savvy consumers can easily use Google to locate a brand online without knowing the brand's website address.

Robert Ziegler, president of Brandimation, Morrisville, PA

When "DOT-COM" is part of the brand, like Expedia.com (voices sing "DOT COMMMMM!"), it should naturally appear up front. With a front panel promo burst (win $1,000,000!), there is often a website. When there's a brand campaign to increase package purchaser awareness of its online community, packages might emulate what TV channels do with their own "front panels." So the question to answer becomes: How relevant is the URL to the brand, brand promotion, or brand campaign?

"But what about the information angle? Say I'm shopping and want to WAP mobile browse more info on my expensive electronic widget!"

If a consumer spends that much time investigating the product, chances are he or she has already picked up the package and turned it around... to where most URLs are and should be now, in the infospace on the back. Furthermore, fast-forward a few years to when an RFID-reading mobile device will automatically retrieve all pertinent info. Who will need those URLs then?

Ed Moeller, principal of Zunda Group, South Norwalk, CT

Website addresses on front panels are not necessary unless related to a specific promotion. They shouldn't be there, and I don't see them appearing in the future. Most packages have very little real estate to hold marketing's desired graphic designs, required brand information, and all the legally mandated food and drug information.

Websites for consumers to gather product information are a critical touch point for any CPG brand. It is a way of bringing the consumer and a brand's world closer together to add value to both in many ways. However, with search engines like Google and Yahoo, consumers know they need only to type in a product's name to get any information that they are looking for. This will take them to the specific brand's site or other resources both positive and negative. Websites that are clearly identified do just fine being relegated to the back panel.

John Miziolek, president of LOGOSBRANDS, Toronto, Ontario

Today's packaging is cluttered with product benefit copy, health claims, and nutritional facts and government regulatory copy. Packaging must communicate with consumers in a split second to induce a purchase. Offering a website address on the front of packages, which may not support the impulse factor, is detracting from the overall communication potential of the brand.

The purpose of packaging is to immediately connect with consumers and provide the necessary information and appeal to provoke a purchase decision. A web address is too far removed from the communication hierarchy of packaging to add brand value unless the web component forms an integral part of the interaction with that brand. There is also some value in communicating a web address on new brand launches where brand recognition doesn't exist but is required for growth.

Dan Matauch, president of Flowdesign Inc., Detroit, MI

Front panel labels are most importantly the face and message of a company's product. Key elements include: 1) Brand Name; 2) What the product is or does; 3) Second tier message "flavor, scent etc."; 4) Third tier message "product attributes."

Consumers are bombarded by multiple product packages and have limited time to scan each label. An addition of a website address on the front panel might be pushing the "hard sell" and is a non-important message in the consumer's mind. In my opinion, it is an unnecessary front panel message.

I think it should be included, but only on the side or back panel label unless used for a promotional or limited time event to help drive consumers to their website. Consumers are smarter than we give them credit for. If they really want to learn more information about the product or company, they know where and how to find it without having it pushed on them.

 

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