An obvious—but oft-ignored—truth is that consumers never simply buy a product. First, they must find it on the shelf; next, they must pick it up; then, based on the names, designs, illustrations, and copy, they draw conclusions about it. Finally, if they haven’t yet lost interest, they buy it. To overcome these obstacles, packages must minimize or eliminate friction: every single distraction that would cause a consumer to lose interest and not buy (e.g., look at another product, become disenchanted with the current product, walk away, get engaged in conversation).
Zero Friction Branding™ is the name I’ve given to my philosophy that eliminating friction—which I conceptually define as any inhibitor to closing a sale—is the key to great branding and package design. Let’s apply this to the world of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG):
1. Before the consumer decides to buy, he or she must see the product and decide to pick it up. Therefore, you first have to create a brand-coherent package shape, structure and design that immediately stands out from everything else on the shelf. After all, if the consumer doesn’t see the product, he or she will never get to steps 2 and 3 below.
2. Once the consumer is looking at the product, the first thing he or she will notice is the name and description or tagline. Both must be visually arresting, brand coherent, psychologically evocative and highly memorable. (Note that generic names don’t work because they are incapable of being psychologically evocative or memorable.)
3. Now let’s say the targeted consumer has provisionally decided to buy. That’s where compelling copy comes in. The third step, therefore, is to provide the knowledge-hungry consumer with precisely the information that will lead him or her to conclude: “Yes, this product is especially for me.”