Finding Purpose in Packaging and Design

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By: Amanda Peterson, Account Coordinator

In August, Nabisco’s famed Barnum Animal crackers got a refresh – after 116 years, the company freed the animals from their cages and opted to show them roaming free instead. Animal rights groups who oppose the confinement of animals for entertainment saw the redesign as a big win. This is just the most recent example of how social impact and consumer advocacy can shape packaging and design. 

According to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study, 78 percent of Americans believe companies must positively impact society, and 77 percent feel a stronger connection with Purpose-driven companies. Packaging and design can play a big role in communicating that Purpose, whether it’s promoting equality, inclusion or environmental conservation. Here are four examples of companies putting their Purpose in their packaging and design:

  • Smirnoff’s “Love Wins” Bottles: In 2017, Smirnoff partnered with San-Francisco-based photographer Sarah Deragon, the creator of the Identity Project (a photography series that explores the labels we choose to identify with when defining our gender and sexuality), to create the “Love Wins” bottles. Each bottle featured different images of LGBTQ couples. For every bottle made, Smirnoff donated $1, with a minimum $260,000, to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In 2018, the company doubled-down on their PRIDE initiative and partnered with ‘Queer Eye’s’ Jonathan Van Ness for the New York City Pride March. Starting in 2019, Smirnoff plans to increase their minimum donation to the HRC to one million over three years.

  • Rice Krispies “Love Note” Braille Stickers: Last year, Kellogg launched writable wrappers on its Rice Krispies treats, encouraging parents to send messages to their children at lunch. In August 2018, the company partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to create “Love Note” Braille stickers and recordable audio boxes, demonstrating the company’s commitment to accessibility by allowing kids who are blind or have low vision to receive notes of encouragement. Kellogg also said that the redesign honors the company’s founder Will Keith Kellogg, who lost his eyesight later in life.

  • National Geographic Gives Up the Plastic Wrapper: Earlier this year, Nat Geo ditched the plastic wrapper around their its magazine in an effort to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The publication opted for paper instead. Although it’s only a small step in mitigating the global plastic waste problem, this change will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month and raise awareness for a much bigger issue.

  • Cafe Franquenza tells the stories of coffee farmers: The Ercus Foundation is a nonprofit founded by Alejandro España, the chairman of the Ercus Group, a food and beverage group that works to lift Mexican farmers out of poverty. In 2016, The Ercus Foundation set out to create a strong visual identity for the Cafe Franquenza brand. The group created personalized coffee pouches, including photographs of coffee farmers, with biographies and a map showing their location. Not only did the packages help farmers better market their products, it also helped consumers build a connection with the people and places their coffee comes from.

Packaging plays a vital role in how consumers interact with a brand, telling them in an instant why the product and brand are different and, hopefully, leaving a lasting impression in their minds. As one of the most effective ways to reach consumers, it allows a brand to uniquely communicate its purpose. While an everyday consumer might not read an informational paragraph, freed animals on a cracker box and touching images of LGBTQ couples on Smirnoff bottles resonate with a broader group of people. Packaging is prime real estate, and Purpose-driven brands should feel empowered to explore its endless opportunities.