How Brands Can Entice Consumers Visually and Avoid the Minimalist Packaging Trap

Visually and Avoid the Minimalist Packaging Trap

Simplistic designs often blur together and won't stand out to buyers


There’s a pervasive scourge of minimalism threatening consumer brands.

You’ve seen them. You may buy them. You may even love them. Those brands that strip away all “unnecessary” packaging graphics and messaging in service of an unvarnished, anti-branding, ingredients-first message.

There are myriad examples, but some of the better-known purveyors of the minimalist approach include RX Bar, Brandless, Soylent, Just, Naked Nutrition and Malk, to name a few.

Naked Whey

Minimalism is alleged to be more millennial-friendly, transparent, authentic and pure. None of that icky marketing stuff. No bells and whistles. No bullshit.

Well, I’m calling bullshit on rampant minimalism.

When it first emerged, the minimalist-unbranded wave was a disruptive and fresh approach to building a brand. Do the opposite of what traditional packaged goods brands have done forever. Acknowledge that today’s overwhelmed consumers seek simplicity and clarity. Emphasize an ethical supply chain and clean ingredients with an equally “clean” package design.


And for some, significantly in RX Bar’s case, its minimalism proved to be a brilliant strategy, as evidenced by its $600 million sale to Kellogg’s. But when too many brands strip down to bare bones, what was once a welcome departure from traditional packaging clutter has become an annoyingly prevalent, boring and lazy trend that lacks meaning.

In food and beverage branding, there’s an insidious threat lurking aboard the minimalist-unbranded bandwagon.

Many consumers may interpret your product as just that—a product, not a brand. Minimalism connotes that your product is nothing more than a commodity, a collection of ingredients easily sourced and replicated by other products, housed in an unassuming vessel that may or may not have equal quality to competing products.

Commoditized brands are transactional. They garner no loyalty. They engender the same level of emotional engagement as one experiences while putting coins in a parking meter.

The ubiquity of minimalist brand design is not merely a nod by marketers, brand owners and creatives to the cultural zeitgeist, but rather an inability to resolve the tension inherent in packaged goods branding. Specifically, how to deliver simplicity and clarity for consumers while communicating a distinct personality and credible, relatable raison d’être.

Renowned book jacket designer Chip Kidd often discusses this tension as the fine line that separates mystery from clarity.

“Clarity gets to the point. It’s blunt. It’s honest. It’s sincere,” Kidd says. “Mystery is a lot more complicated by its very definition. Mystery demands to be decoded, and when it’s done right, we really, really want to (decode it).”


Too many minimalist brands lack even a modicum of mystery. In their zeal to proclaim, “We’ve got nothing to hide,” they’ve forgotten that a little mystery, and yes, even a little seduction, produces desire and intrigue that drives sales, creates preference and commands a premium.

So, how does your brand avoid the trap of me-too, just-the-facts minimalism and create some genuine affinity? Here are three questions to ask.

First, does your brand visibly stand out? Assess your brand’s look and feel and ask yourself: Is there is at least one visual (or verbal) component of your brand that is truly distinctive from your competition?

Much like the hipsters in my home city of San Francisco—skinny jeans, thick beards and fixie bikes—sharing the same style as large chunks of ones’ peer group does not make you different or unique. Brands seeking to “stand out” by blending into the minimalist aesthetic risk indifference and irrelevancy.

Second, does your brand generate a visceral response? Does it create curiosity, spur a chuckle, inspire a pause for reflection or offer an intriguing tease? By leaving something to the imagination, you’ll encourage and entice people to explore further. And it’s that thrill of discovery—“I found this amazing brand!”—that forges an emotional connection and advocacy.

Third, is your brand truly memorable? If your brand does the first two things well—i.e., it’s both visible and visceral—then memorability will be the inevitable and essential byproduct.

Brand creators, owners and marketers, it’s beyond time to reject the minimalist craze and reintroduce a touch of romance, mystery and, dare I say, emotion, to brands. Because less is simply not more.

Brand consulting firm Interbrand to fold Singapore operations


Brand consulting firm Interbrand Singapore is said to be ceasing operations in Singapore effective end September. Marketing understands the move impacts around 20 staff and has reached out to the agency for comment.

According to its website, the agency’s Singapore office was first started in 1990. It worked for clients in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brunei, Male, and Abu Dhabi, along with key growth markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The closure of the Singapore office is also said to impact regional ASEAN clients covered by the Singapore office.

In July, Interbrand saw the exit of Asia Pacific CEO Stuart Green, who went on to insurance firm Aon to helm the global head of brand role later on in August, according to his LinkedIn. Prior to his exit, Green was APAC CEO for eight years and spent more than two decades with the agency.

Last year, the firm promoted general manager Jonathan Bernstein to managing director to lead the Singapore office. Before taking on the GM role, Bernstein was an executive strategy director, having been with Interbrand for over seven years, according to this LinkedIn. During his tenure, he also led some of the agency’s most notable work including Bench, Krungsri Bank and Royal Brunei Airlines.

The company also brought on board Charles Trevail as its global CEO in January 2018, taking over from Jez Frampton who is retired after 22 years with the agency. Prior to the move, Trevail was CEO of global customer agency C Space.

Interbrand’s current service offerings extend to business case and ROI development, go-to-market strategy, innovation, and marketing capability development. In addition, the agency also provides clients with deeper capabilities in the areas of brand insight, strategy, brand experience and activation.

In ASEAN, Interbrand has been utilising such services to help clients such as OSIM, BDO, Biznet and King Power to better leverage strategy, creativity and technology to build brand and business value.

Original Article:

Why Brands Need to Prioritize Real Influencers Over the Fake Ones and Save the CGI for the movies

As marketers, it is certainly important to have a sense of humor about our industry and not take ourselves too seriously. There are big, bold creative campaigns that fall flat, unfortunately placed media that shows up within the wrong context and the jargon-infused version of the English language we are all fluent in. But then there are times when I have to ask myself, “Have we all gone and lost our minds?”

That was certainly the case after reading about the rise in popularity of CGI influencers. Where do I even start with this?

 Lil Miquela showcases the brand-emblazoned looks of the season in V magazine's latest issue

Lil Miquela showcases the brand-emblazoned looks of the season in V magazine's latest issue

Influencers are influential because they are an authority on a topic. They have formulated their own opinions, whether they be about health and wellness, personal style, beauty tips, movie reviews, recipes, travel destinations or how to survive being a parent. These opinions are based upon real-life experiences and personal preference. While they often take a very aspirational approach to showcasing their opinions by posting a perfectly constructed Instagram shot that has been edited and filtered within an inch of its life, they are still real people who actually did those things.

One of the primary reasons that brands invested more into influencer marketing is the past two years is because it is a nice change of pace to have someone else talk about your brand rather than consumers only hearing the voice of the brand. Influencers do a great job of coming up with a new angle or a very personal way of describing how they use a product or interact with a brand. When done well, they make a brand seem more relatable and relevant.

I don’t disagree that there is a lot of influencer marketing that is done poorly, such as the content that feels overly contrived, inauthentic and super forced. As an industry, we should shy away from the over-commercialization of influencer marketing in general, and paying computer-generated graphics to talk about our products is absolutely moving in the wrong direction. There is no real influence from fake influencers.

So how do we avoid the fake influencer trap?

Be really picky about the influencers you work with

Leverage all the vast data available to select the best influencers for your brand. By establishing the ideal profile of each type of influencer you would like to partner with, you have a clear lens with which to evaluate all potential partners. In the same way a brand should have a unique and well-defined brand voice, they should also have a clear and consistent approach to influencer marketing.

Learn from the organic conversation

Monitor social conversations around your brand, your category and those driven by influencers you are considering partnering with. Really dig into what language or vernacular feels natural and what content is not only consumed but also garners participation. Use these insights to craft a compelling creative brief for your influencer partners that they can easily take their own spin on. One of the best ways to set yourself up to achieve your KPIs and maximize your earned media potential is by looking at what is currently working and deriving inspiration from what already happens organically.

Reward those influencers who drive results

Once you find influencers who really drive results for your brand, develop a long-term strategic partnership with them. The relationship will get more familiar, the content will get better and the authenticity will shine through. The halo of influence that a brand achieves through long-term partnerships continues to build and solidify over time. One of the components of the influencer strategies we develop on behalf of our clients is a bespoke value exchange between brand and influencer. It’s critical to take a step back before conducting any outreach to long-term partners and really think through what it is that your brand can uniquely offer influencers and what specifically you would like in return to forward the efforts of your specific business. This mutual respect will go a long way in ensuring future performance.

Let’s not bring even more artificiality to our Instagram feeds and keep CGI where it belongs—in the movies. Be selective, listen to your customers, measure and repeat.