The Creative Concept and Its Role in Product Packaging

What Is a Creative Concept?

Why Is it Important?

Developing a Concept

How a Creative Concept Translates to Design

Picture source: Adidas

How well you master the development of a strong creative concept can make or break the launch of a new product or campaign. Unsure what a creative concept is? We've provided insight and tips below to help guide your brand in the creative process.

A creative concept is the big idea behind your product’s design. It often involves an overarching theme or message that is used as inspiration to tie the product’s design and marketing together.

This concept is intended to play on people’s emotions, opinions, values, and thoughts to help your product resonate with them. While it can take some time to come up with a solid creative concept, it is well worth the extra effort as it will guide how you appeal to your target audience and allow customers to more easily connect with your product. If the task of developing this overarching idea sounds daunting, partner with a creative agency to help with the creative development process.

Creative concepts play a critical role in the design and production process as they serve as the foundation of your campaigns. This concept helps inform key elements of the creative direction such as the physical design, color schemes, messaging, emotions behind your product, and even the target audience - ultimately tying all of your efforts together from concept to market.

This overarching idea is translated through the product and its packaging design into something your customers can see, and, when done correctly, emotionally connect with. Products without a strong creative concept may not have as strong of a design direction, potentially lacking cohesiveness across their branding and messaging. If you don't establish up front who you are designing the product for, and why, then your product may have design features that are mismatched or completely lacking a statement altogether.

There are many things to consider in developing the concept behind your campaign. The first thing to do is to figure out what problem you are trying to solve for people. What type of people would use your product? And why would they choose your product over a competitor?

This concept must be something that makes your product stand out among your competitors - so get creative with it. Narrow down your audience to a specific group that you can really connect with through the design. One approach is to try out several statements in a test group to see which one your target audience connects with the most. You might start with broad themes for your concept and then delve further into the specifics as it evolves.

Let’s take a look at a specific example of how creative concepts could evolve. Consider these shoes that Adidas is making out of ocean plastic:

The marketing team behind this campaign could have started out with the desire to focus on an audience who loves the outdoors and values being respectful to the environment. In this example, a broad concept would be running shoes for an environmentally conscious person.

Then, the option of designing shoes made from ocean plastic may have been introduced into the mix, narrowing the idea around ocean-friendly shoes. You can see how the design of the shoe would fit in with that theme. The waves on the shoes, as well as the color choices, completely mimic the ocean. And the marketing heavily promotes the fact that these shoes are made mostly from ocean plastic, speaking back to the broader message of making choices that have a low impact on the environment. The creative concept becomes circular, as the smaller details go back to refine the bigger picture.

The design process is simplified when you have a creative concept to work with. This guiding idea informs many of the creative decisions that are involved in bringing a product from concept to market.

Let's use the retail packaging we designed for Rachio's Smart Sprinkler Controller as an example for reference as we go through a few of these creative decisions.

Think about how well the packaging design speaks to the product and the concept behind the campaign. Packaging shouldn't be thought about as something you just throw away; use the text, shapes, and colors to reinforce the visual appeal and message of your product. Take advantage of this real estate to educate the consumer.

After all, the packaging is often the first impression the consumer reacts to when seeing your product on the shelf, and can have a strong, determining influence on the buying decision when the consumer is choosing between your product and your competitors.

Consider the colors used in the design. The emotional element behind your campaign's message can help you narrow down the colors you will use in the product, the packaging, and the marketing. Imagery and shapes in your design also match that emotional tone, whether it be more block, bold contrasting shapes, or soft, fluid graphics.

In the packaging designed for Rachio, bright greens and blues were used to appeal to the sustainable element of the brand, combined with clean and modern imagery to reflect the intuitive user experience of the product.

Next are the features you highlight. Does each feature add to your overall message or take away from it? Note that it is often better to streamline your features so that the product speaks to a specific person.

Don't feel the need to mention every detail of your product. It can be more confusing than beneficial to the consumer if your product has too many features and the main value becomes unclear.

As you see in the example, the complexity of the technology was simplified to speak to the needs of the consumer.

And finally, your creative concept should be used as the underlying message inspiring your marketing efforts. A branding specialist can help make sure that any product documentation and marketing materials are cohesive with the idea and message that guides your campaign.

As you can tell, there are many things that go into developing an effective creative concept and evolving it into a profitable campaign. It may beneficial to partner with a creative agency to help do the legwork for you. The development process gets a little easier as you begin to understand how this greater idea can evolve over the course of a project’s design. Don’t be afraid to get feedback on your ideas from real people who can give insight as to whether or not they understand your creative direction and the unique product you are planning to bring to the table.

Speak to a branding expert today to help develop a creative concept for your next campaign!