Attention seekers. People. Businesses. Brands. Branding is everyone and everywhere. In a world of immediacy, accessibility and ferocious competition, it has never been more important for brands to attract attention. This is not a new phenomenon. Successful brands understand how humans are programmed and time in South Africa highlighted just how wired for branding, we as primates actually are.
Driving through Cape Point National Park, South Africa, undeterred by the signs that read, ‘Do Not Feed the Baboons’, two fresh faced Brits arrived at ‘The Cape of Good Hope’ eager to follow in the footsteps of history’s most famous explorers.
Vasco Da Gama featured heavily on the history syllabus at Spratton Hall Preparatory School in the late 1980s, but our education for the day was to come on the subject of branding and packaging design and from a rather unusual source.
Following our walk to the lighthouse at Cape Point for a number obligatory holiday photos with our disposable camera (remember those?), we proceeded to the visitor center that comprised a gift shop, and more importantly to my friend, Chris, a cafeteria that was laden with the sweet aroma of fresh pastries.
A mandatory purchase of some postcards and a keyring from the gift shop ensued, as we had promised to write home from each of our destinations. Chris, in his infinite wisdom, decided that he would eat the pastries portion of his lunch in the car on route back to the sun kissed Camps Bay beaches of Cape Town for an afternoon of rest and relaxation. There were two things Chris loved in life; devouring pastries and working on his suntan.
As we left the visitor center and made our way towards the rental car, our education in branding and packaging design began. One hundred yards shy of our vehicle, we were confronted by a rather sinister and hairy looking male, approximately 3 feet tall and who looked to be on the hunt for a spot of lunch himself. Now my traveling companion was holding a bag in each hand. A white plain paper bag that contained some souvenirs and a colorfully printed paper bag, that illustrated the cafeteria’s building and logo in wonderful typography. This bag contained his prized possession of the day – an Apple and Custard Danish pastry.
At first, we rather naively thought the Baboon would make way. Alas, our animal roadblock was seemingly transfixed, salivating at the thought of the contents within the colorful cafeteria bag. It was as though this wasn’t an isolated occurrence and there was a built-in trust that the packaging offered reliability and the potential to delight to the consumer.
As the aggressor and defender faced off, claws and teeth were displayed on both sides. Some light sparring followed but ultimately, Chris relented and watched on, forlorn, as the remnants of his lunch were efficiently unwrapped and joyously consumed atop a Volkswagen camper.
Packaging has become an essential tool in a brand’s arsenal, converting casual buyers into lifelong customers. When done well, packaging communicates with its intended market, engaging the consumer on both a functional and emotional level. We are subconsciously drawn to brands via positive associations, joining countless others as part of a unique buying tribe. The majority of these relationships are established through the craftsmanship of engaging package design.
Our afternoon was spent on the beaches at Camps Bay soaking up the sun, writing postcards from the package that was not given a second glance.