Aristotle’s lessons in Packaging design – 312 BC

by | Feb 12, 2018 | Branding with impact, Creating Emotional Connection, Creating powerful and effective Corporate Design Communications

Yes, indeed all the way back 2300 years ago, Aristotle’s lessons in packaging design and persuasion are just as relevant today as they were back then. It turns out that the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle was an expert on the subject of influence, persuasion, marketing and packaging design. He gave us packaging design lessons way back 2300 years ago. Aristotle’s persuasion theory has been called “the most important single work on persuasion and influencing others ever written.”

Aristotle’s lessons had three principles of persuasive communication:

  1. Logos (presenting a clear and compelling argument),
  2. Pathos (using emotion) and
  3. Ethos (establishing credibility).

In other words, to persuade customers to pick up your pack out of a busy, highly competitive shelf, the packaging design must be perceived as credible and persuade both emotionally AND intellectually. 

The most effective packaging designs, ending up in the consumers shopping cart or trolley must appeal to that target consumers emotions and their intellect. All too often Brand Marketers overlook one more of these primary persuasion principles.

Underestimating the job it takes to compel a shopper

Never underestimate the task at hand when it comes to moving prospects to buy. It takes extreme, extraordinary measures to compel people to act.” ~Todd Brown

At Jam&Co over 2 decades of experience have taught our designers that, “One should never underestimate the task at hand when it comes to captivating a target customer and move them both emotionally and intellectually to pick up your product off a busy competitive shelf.

As a brand marketer, constantly fighting deadlines and limited budget requirements, it’s easy to overlook some of the most critical elements crucial to the packaging design process.

The silent salesman’s 2 abilities

So, if you think about what it really takes to enroll consumers and engage them in buying your brand and products, there are two abilities that will set your product pack apart from all others in your space.

There’s a well know sales trainer in the USA called Bill Brooks. Bill Brooks would say that essentially there are two abilities that set the best salespeople apart from everybody else:

  1. Build trust faster 
  2. Qualify buyers better

In packaging terms that means:

  1. The pack must establish trust and credibility both emotionally and intellectually, and
  2. Target specific target consumer requirements by understanding where they are at in terms of knowing what it is they already know about what it is they want.(Nescience Loop©)

If your marketing is to deliver the results you are looking for, from your product pack, product messaging, both above and below the line, it must must speak to where your target customer is located on the Nescience Loop©.

Aristotle’s lessons – Pretty doesn’t necessarily sell!

The product pack is the last piece of communication that a brand has with their target consumer along the buying journey. The packs  design and content messaging are essential to the brands ability to influence it’s target consumer’s decision at the last minute. Just because a pack is pretty or disruptive to the category, doesn’t necessary equate to buying it. If consumers don’t recognise or connect emotionally with the new product pack design either online or on the shelf, they won’t buy it.

Aristotle’s lessons – Perception

There are “3 Questions Every Package Design Must Answer To Make The Sale”. These key questions are based on the premise that there are certain things your target customers need to believe, consciously or unconsciously, for them to buy into your product and the solution it offers them. These 3 keys build the credibility perception required for the consumer to feel comfortable enough to buy your product.

Aristotle’s lessons – Emotional persuasion

The emotional persuasion on the pack arises from the packs ability to clearly communicate the product’s promise and why it delivers the result the consumer is looking for. Whilst designs tend to vary with design trends, (See, the message of the pack still needs to communicate the “how and why” of the product.

  • Does the package design create an emotional connection?
  • Does it invoke Pathos?
  • Does the pack evoke feelings that connect with the audience?

Aristotle’s lessons- Intellectual persuasion

The intellectual attention grabber comes from presenting something the consumer has never seen before… something that is new, different, unique, fresh, and easy to grasp. How does the new pack surprise and delight  and create cut-thru on-shelf?

  • Does the product message make sense and is it easy to grasp?
  • Is the message credible?
  • Does the product promise invoke confidence that the consumer will achieve their desired outcome?

Persuasion Aristotle style

Whilst Aristotle was a great philosopher and scientist he also just happened to be a very persuasive speaker . In fact he was so influential with his persuasion that many of his teachings still shape our thinking today. Aristotle firmly believed that if you missed, or were deficient, in any one his persuasion pillars of ethos, pathos and logos, people wouldn’t believe you or care about what you had to say.

This is as true for product packaging today as it was for persuasion techniques 2300 years ago.