Establishing an emotional connection for your brand or packaging design

by | Feb 12, 2019 | Creating Emotional Connection

Unfortunately, even with the plethora of information available to Brand marketers and packaging designers alike, most still don’t know how to establish an emotional connection (EC) for their brand or packaging design….

Deep design thinking required…

To develop an indisputable emotional connection with one’s target audience takes some deep design thinking and development work.

In a world where Brand marketers are constantly being pressed for time and are juggling multiple projects, all too often they leave the deep thinking up to the designers. However, too few designers really understand what it takes to “DESIGN IN” emotional connection into their brand or packaging designs.

It’s not like this is taught in packaging design school.

design concept 

On brief and pretty is what is typically focused on when it comes to most packaging design.

We have stated many times… Whilst “pretty” may get people to the shelf, to get the consumer to pick up and engage with and put your pack into their shopping trolley takes a whole new level of design experience and know how.

Whilst pretty design may attract, attraction on the shelf itself, does not necessarily translate into sales. Your product requires engagement. Engagement comes from an Emotional Connection (EC).


Attraction is no accident

When the attraction is powerful it usually doesn’t happen by accident.

There’s actually a lot of thought and research as well as a great deal of caring that goes on behind the scenes to understand your consumers on a really deep level to conceptualise the initial design. Then there’s the re-effort to further develop the emotive concept and align the packaging or branding design with what it is your consumer really wants on a deep emotional level.

This is how you create an attraction!

create attractive packaging designs


Emotional transformation

As a brand marketer or designer, you are looking to create “emotional transformation“. What is that?

Emotional transformation in essence is, how your customer would feel after consuming or using your product.

Transformation is the before and after evolution that your customer goes through after using your product or service. This transformation is not only the core of your product offering, but it’s also the basis for emotional connectivity.

Unfortunately all too many designers and Brand marketers tend to miss this critical ingredient. Instead, at best, they work to highlight the features or benefits of the products and try and position them as the hero. This is akin to selling the sizzle, not the steak.  

Whilst this is not entirely wrong, there is a critical piece of the puzzle that’s missing. The fact is, regardless of the product being presented on the shelf (retail or online), in the end, every offer comes down to the transformation being offered.

The transformation is the “Where am I at right now, versus, how will I be feeling once I have consumed/used your product.”

All emotional transformational design begins with the designer clearly understanding both the consumers a “before” state. A clear understanding of how the consumers’ current situation is problematic or less than desirable. Then… Along comes your product. The design showcases and takes the consumer to their “after” picture. here’s where things are awesome and wonderful.this is their future state as transformed by your product. WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE???

design transformation concept


Determining the core transformation.

It’s vital that your design team dig deep with the process to determine the core transformational emotion.

The deep thinking process, one that will have the greatest emotional impact for your consumer must touch both ends of the “before and after” elements. The feelings your consumers are having NOW and the “feeling/being” elements they will have once your product is consumed/used. If this is not done properly, then you as a Brand marketer will struggle to create an emotional connective product pack that really resonates on a deep emotional level.

Example: Konjac Shirataki Noodles

Konjac Shirataki Noodles

  • Konjac Shirataki Noodles are traditional Japanese noodles that are made from the fibre of the Konjac plant. (FEATURE)
  • According to the marketing hype, The natural fibre the noodles are made from makes the consumer “feel full and allows you to enjoy eating noodles, without the guilt.” (BENEFIT)


Great, so what’s missing?

What’s missing is the establishment of an emotional connection (EC) for their brand or the packaging design.

As you can see, most brand marketers and designers will stop here. They stop at the easy.

It’s easy to will take the more tangible elements of the product and “feature” and “benefit” them to sell the sizzle.

However the sizzle does not necessarily translate into an emotional connection.

When seeking to discover the emotional connective elements of the product, one needs to dig a whole lot deeper. We are looking for the emotional transformational benefit. In Sales, we call these “the stretch benefits“.


To discover the emotional transformation benefit we ask:

  • What’s their NOW feeling and what is the flip side of that?
  • What’s the NOW and what is the AFTER feeling?
  • What does that mean?
  • What does that feel like?
  • What does success look and feel like?
  • You arrive at things that are much more emotional toward the top.

emotional transformation benefit

The emotional connection language and feeling is normally discovered at the top of the grid in the Feeling and Being space, whereas the more tangible feature and benefit aspects live closer to the bottom of the grid in the Having and Doing area. 

For a packaging design, to have the greatest emotional impact for your potential customer, it can’t just stop at the “having done” elements. Rather the emotional transformative elements will come from considering the “feeling being.” This is where the pack will really resonate with your consumer at a deep emotive level.