How The “Instagram Effect” is Shaping Packaging Design

In our modern times, no brand strategy is complete without the mention of incorporating social media in some shape or form, but what happens when social media goes beyond marketing and dictates what a brand’s design is supposed to look like?

There is a growing trend for brands to take into account how their products and packaging will appear on social media, more specifically on Instagram, the popular app that houses millions of users and a never-ending stream of curated photos. In order to target millennial audiences, brands have figured out different ways to strategize this platform in order to encourage people to buy and interact with brands on the daily.

In 2014 Coca-Cola launched their viral “Share a Coke” campaign that captured the hearts of consumers everywhere, mostly in part to the success of the campaign via Instagram. Bottles and cans of Coke products were changed up to spell out a variety of personalized names along with the hashtag, #ShareaCoke. The personalized aspect helped this campaign gain traction but the sharable quality of the actual content is what drove this idea to be so successful.

By taking a page from Coca-Cola’s book, in February 2017 Italian brand Ferrero unveiled a run of 7 million unique jars of Nutella, their famous hazelnut spread. Each jar was created using an algorithm to ensure that no two jars contained the same design. The patterns utilized were so bold and vibrant that they looked like they were designed specifically with Instagram photography in mind. The bold patterns and shareable quality of these jars are what led them to be sold out within a month of being released.

In 2017 we also saw other brands joining the movement to create packaging that not only comes with physical shelf appeal but also looks appealing when placed in those square boxes so many people scroll through on the daily.An example of this can be seen with Haagen Dazs ice cream who in May of last year came out with a new positioning and packaging campaign aptly titled “Everyday Made Extraordinary.” Simply designed cartons and boxes were upgraded with richly textured and colored patterned elements created by a variety of illustrators who aimed to represent the experience that comes with tasting each flavor. The new design creates an incredibly photogenic product that is ready to be hashtagged and shared on Instagram.

Late last year, America’s favorite yogurt brand Chobani also released a new and improved lineup of packaging and the Instagram effect is nothing short of apparent. Striking handmade illustrations of fresh fruits and ingredients replaced photographic elements in order to reflect a wholesome and playful approach to displaying the goodness inside. The representation of organic ingredients directly reflects the movement to display transparency, something that has also gained traction due to the popularity of food photography on Instagram. Just as Instagram accounts are dedicated to providing pictures of healthy food layouts, this packaging is reinforcing the notion of buying into a lifestyle.

There is no conversation in staying relevant as a brand without considering the powerful impact of Instagram and its potential to create successful campaigns that go beyond the physical. In a time where access to imagery and information can come at a rapid pace, it’s more important now than ever for brands to make sure their packaging and products are ready for their close up.

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