Packaging is an important part of pet food and can be a useful tool in attracting consumers to a product and telling a brand’s story. Stefan Hartung, executive creator for Ideas That Kick, and Melissa Ross, director of marketing and education for Oxbow Animal Health, discussed how to leverage pet food packaging and when to rebrand at Petfood Forum 2016 on April 19.

Hartung said pet food packaging must not only make a product stand out on store shelves, but it must also be honest in its messaging, convincing and engaging with consumers in order to be an effective means of creating brand loyalty. Companies that incorporate packaging design at the core perform nearly 200% better than those that don’t focus on design, he said.

Rebranding can be a means of updating packaging and improving “merchandise-ability,” according to Ross, whose company worked with Ideas That Kick to rebrand its own products. Ross advised rebranding for several reasons, including changing equipment, unifying fragmented lines to create a powerful brand, rethinking packaging sizes and transitioning to greener packaging.

As Oxbow did, Hartung said that companies should like at the entire line holistically when rebranding and find ways to help consumers relate to the product. “The more ways you can engage [consumers’] sensory experience, the better,” Ross added.

For Oxbow, rebranding started by sticking to the story of how the brand was formed. The company started by looking at its logo, since that is the core of the brand, Ross said, and from there looked at other aspects such as how to show ingredient sourcing, images on the packaging and coloring. Ross advised companies to choose a color palette that allows for expanding the range of colors when it comes time to rebrand other products or introduce new ones.

Hartung finished with five rules for rebranding packaging:

1. It needs to stand for something.

2. Put emotions on the packaging rather than just product features.

3. Develop a unique strategy for marketing that compliments the new packaging.

4. Own something–custom photography is crucial.

5. The packaging must be easily readable.

Melissa-Ross-and-Stefan-hartung

Melissa Ross, director of marketing and education for Oxbow Animal Health, and Stefan Hartung, executive creator for Ideas That Kick

Petfood Forum 2016 was held April 18-20 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.