LONDON: Food manufacturers are facing a tough time in the UK, as supermarkets streamline their ranges and they need to empower their brands with powerful brand design if they are to avoid being delisted, according to an industry figure.

Writing in the current issues of Admap, in Five tips to design grocery packaging that appeals on the supermarket shelf, Richard Taylor of Brandon Associates notes that the old approach of having big brand logos and bold colours – "shout and they will come" – is no longer supported by the evidence.

"The most important role of brand packaging is to connect a shopper with an occasion and need," he says. "In this market, the packaging becomes the advertisement to bring the brand's purpose to life."

In addition to following the design semiotics of particular food categories, he advises brands to develop emotive designs that drive a human connection and give shoppers a trigger to buy. There are also opportunities to create new icons that capture attention and drive such a connection.

Taylor is also an evangelist for simplicity in packaging. "You can literally see the manufacturing-led businesses on-shelf, the pack almost becoming a PowerPoint presentation littered with irrelevant bullet points," he says.

"Brands that stand out and win do one thing and sell it well."

The structural format of the packaging is another route to achieving cut-through, in the way that a brand like Pringles does on the snack foods shelf with its carton. Simpler options are also possible – as shown by the example of San Pellegrino adding a peel-off top to its soft drinks cans, "evoking memories of peeling fruit, so taking you to that natural place the brand wants you to be in when buying a fizzy orange or lemon drink".

But, adds Taylor, "it's not just about having a unique structure but also about ensuring you have the right format to meet the needs of your audience", whether that's a new product format, a smaller pack size, or, thinking laterally, packaging that taps into other areas, such as Wrigley's tubs of gum for car drinks holders.

Finally, he argues that those brands that aren't first or second in their category are most at risk from losing their place on the supermarket shelf and, for them, innovation is essential.

Investing in "relevant innovation … brings the brands, and the audience they are looking to connect with, closer together".

Data sourced from Admap