Grand Designs – How to Make Your Retail Product Stand Out


About The Authors: Chris Isted and Jon Stevens established Threesixty in 2009. After 20 years each in senior London agencies, they wanted to expand their roles and take responsibility for projects from beginning to the end. 12 years later, they have built a team with the specialist skills to support start-ups, Challenger SMEs and corporate brands to deliver world-class packaging design.

When we walk around Tesco or Boots or a big DIY shed, there are literally thousands of examples of brilliant packaging seducing shoppers, driving purchases and building brands.

It’s a brilliant sector to work in. Fast paced. Creative. Essential. 

And all that polished packaging looks dead easy to produce, right? 


There’s a lot of thought behind brands that achieve – and maintain – listings on a retailer’s shelves. And consistently achieving the agreed rate of sale to prevent a de-listing requires deep understanding of the drivers at play. 

Key Challenges for Packaging Design

Shoppers surf the aisles of a supermarket on auto-pilot. Something akin to a zombie-like state.

It’s not a fun day out, so we head into store with a mission to exit as fast as we can. And that means we’re making purchase decisions based on recognition and finding our usual purchases, fast. 

The brand owner and packaging designer’s job is to interrupt this pattern.  

Competition is fierce. To survive, let alone thrive, you must aim high – bringing an improved proposition, more distinctive positioning and lightening-sharp design to the category. If you’re not adding value to your target retailer’s category, you will not be a valued listing. 

The critical keys to unlock successful design at shelf, and by default, in every other channel are:

  • Be Seen
  • Be Desired
  • Be Understood 

Our 3 Steps for Success

STEP 1 – A valuable proposition

The very essence of what you want a zombie-shopper to buy must be excellent

Your core offer must be on the cutting edge, while also being more relevant (or more desirable) than the category King. 

If it’s none of the above, revisit your drawing board and squeeze harder. The tough work to find a commercial gap and a product that meets a demonstrable consumer has to be done if you want your brand to succeed.

STEP 2 – A model for your brand

The insights, competitor intelligence, values, story, positioning, attributes and benefits of the proposition, and the understanding of your target shopper all need to be captured and processed. Not only that – the output needs to be as unique and ownable as possible. 

This is all collated together into a Brand Meaning Model. It also forms the launchpad for marcomms (marketing communications) and brand design. 

STEP 3 – Iconic, Timeless Brand Identity & Packaging Design 

The Brand meaning model becomes the design brief, reference point and measurement for design.  

Your design team need to create work that speaks to each aspect of the model. For us, we design to deliver against our critical measures:  Be Seen, Be Desired, Be Understood®

A Project Example 

Reinventing a famous brand that had slipped behind the curve…

Being desired is about being relevant to your shopper’s needs.

You can be as shouty as you like on shelf – with bold, dayglow packs. But if you aren’t offering something the shopper wants, or you can’t inspire them to want you, you won’t end up in their basket.

You must offer something they want or need, whether it’s taste, convenience, or a way of life.

In 2019, The Sharwood’s brand in Australia was under attack from a trend towards scratch cooking. A new wave of kits were appearing on shelf promising deeper involvement for the home cook – and, most importantly, fresher, better results.

These Challenger brands were de-positioning Sharwood’s.

We needed to re-establish Sharwood’s as the de-facto category leader in regional sauces. To do this, we had to reaffirm the provenance and authenticity of the recipes, while promoting their high-quality ingredients. Essentially, we needed to ensure Sharwood’s was desired!

Here’s how we did it:

We started by creating an iconic ‘S’ shape that pops at shelf throughout the category – helping the brand to be seen. The sophisticated curves and golden shimmer re-establish the premium credentials and the heritage of the brand.

Instead of showing finished dishes on pack, we used imagery of fresh ingredients, prepared and ready to cook. Chopped tomatoes, sliced onions and fresh chillies – mouth-watering and delicious!

This dialled-up the inherent quality of the sauces, signalling they were created with real ingredients. Authenticity was suggested with the use of background scenery and photography of real herbs and spices. Being desired and being understood.  

The team at Sharwood’s were delighted with the results. The brand retained its listings and has now added many other new products to the category. The brand owner has since begun using the same winning design in the US and across Europe.

We would love to help you become the next category King! To explore what Threesixty can do for you, simply schedule a meeting here:

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