Packaging for a Cause

Packaging accomplishes many things. It protects the product, it communicates key information to the consumer, and it supports the look and feel of the overall brand. When brand leaders want to support a specific cause, packaging can also be a great tool for raising awareness or demonstrating a financial commitment to a particular foundation. However, while it’s always great for brands to put their names behind worthy causes, they’ll get the most out of their campaign by having a smart package design strategy that follows proven rules.


Make the Mission as Clear as Possible

Brands that make overcomplicated pledges to causes – i.e., “we will donate 10 cents for every 50 products purchased before 4 pm by someone over the age of 65” – often go viral on social media for all the wrong reasons. Wordy promises that are full of contingencies and loopholes make the brand look cheap and gives consumers the impression that they are trying to capitalize on a cause while actually giving as little as possible. This can really backfire for a brand, hurting their image and making them worse off than if they had never done the campaign in the first place.

The Soulfull Project® is a great example of a brand with a very straightforward and simple mission. The message “You Buy One, We Give One” is prominently featured on the packaging, so that consumers can understand right away that their purchase will lead directly to a donation. For brands that are considering getting into cause marketing through package design, The Soulfull Project® is a company to look to that is really doing it right.


Take Advantage of Recognizable Colors and Symbols

When it comes to designing packaging that communicates support for a cause, brands don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Designers should take advantage of colors and symbols that already have a strong association with the cause, such as pink for breast cancer or red, white, and blue for veterans. Ocean Spray® cleverly took this a step further by tying breast cancer awareness to a line of pink cranberry juices, forming an even stronger bond between the brand and the breast health organization Bright Pink®.


Consistency is Key

While it can be tempting for brand leaders to want to embrace multiple causes, it’s much more memorable for consumers when brands build a relationship with one specific cause. For example, Absolut® Vodka has been supporting the LGBT community for forty years, and decades of effective package design have helped cement their status as a top brand for this cause.

Brands are also sometimes accused of jumping on bandwagons when new social causes start taking off. Because Absolut® has supported the LGBT community since before it was so widely accepted, they have a more credible and sincere image than some of their competitors. They have also built up a loyal following by focusing on a specific demographic for decades, which can only be achieved by being so consistent in their messaging.

Cause marketing is a worthwhile undertaking for brand leaders, but strong packaging and messaging can ensure that they are as effective as possible. By having a clear mission, recognizable branding, and consistent messaging, brands can use their brand equity to really help their communities and launch campaigns that promote social good.

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