Sequential Packaging: it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

20.01.12

Is sequential packaging the answer to the age-old variant differentiation challenge?

How do you promote unity, and reduce fragmentation, among a growing product line? As a brand organically grows, and new products are added to an existing product or line, how do you maintain harmony within the brand family?

It’s a challenge clients often come to us with. One answer is sequential packaging. It’s a fancy way of describing numbered products within a range. Often there’s no reason; the number’s purpose is to aid identification and selection. Think of cattle being branded. That product can now be identified as ‘belonging’ to the herd of other products within the line.

Pembroke Craft Brewery is a good example:

 

Pembroke Craft Brewery

 

It’s a natty way of promoting awareness among purchasers that there’s a product range beyond their individual product. So if I’m a number 3 buyer, it helps open my eyes to the existence of 1 and 2, and maybe 4, 5 and 6…

 

123 Organic Tequila

 

And this method is not limited to numbers. Brands such as Seattle’s Best Coffee…

 

Seattle’s Best Coffee

…and 21 Drops…

21 Drops

…have coupled the numbering method with bright colour. The combination of bold numbers with bold colours is likely to equal bold shelf-presence, as well as strong variant differentiation.

It’s an approach which is logical, supports a strong brand identity and will likely be clear for consumers. But it is a very rational approach which comes at the expense of individual variant personality. As the song goes, ‘if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other’. There is an element to this striking design statement that almost forces each product within a brand’s range to obey the rules; ultimately, risking being just another cow in a herd.

Perhaps the cows deserve a little more freedom of expression, like these ones from Austin, Texas…