Branding & User Experience Design

So recently I’ve taken up a course at General Assembly for a crash course in UX. It’s opened my eyes up to a lot of the possibilities to blend both branding and UX as a powerful tool at creating fantastic products and providing more insight for a client to better understand their problem space. While I understand this type of methodology works well with products that are either digital in nature or products that have more a less a permanence after they’re purchased, the idea of UX being applied to products within FMCG industry eludes me. Or is it a best case scenario when it comes to FMCG products?
The key function of the UX process is the iterative process that allows the product to quickly be tested and improved upon, and this works fairly comfortably I find with digital-type products and objects of permanence e.g. an electric toothbrush, as I mentioned above. But how does one apply UX and it’s understanding to a piece of packaging? Despite a lack of longer term interaction with the product packaging, the interaction is extremely short and extremely important.

What I’ve found, up until this point, is that any company that operates within the FMCG industry largely has to take a risk on design. Whether the design is evolutionary or revolutionary, it’s almost always a blindfolded jump. This ultimately leads to very small evolutionary changes in visual communication across their packaging because they’re always worrying about the bottom line, and armed with a marketing focused data set that seeks to sell without really understanding.

For the large majority of companies out there, everyone wants to be P&G, and rightly so. P&G have developed an internal set of rules and tests that help them really generate the “most ideal solution”, by understanding the paint points of the people that buy their products and creating solutions that help solve those issues.

While not everyone can be like P&G, anyone that is involved in offering a product/service to people to purchase must first understand what it is that drives those people to buy it in the first place. Is it solving a need they have? Only when we gain an understanding about the people that are buying a product/service will we be able to iterate the design further.

While here I only speak of design as a visual communication problem between businesses, agencies and consumers; the process of understanding and creating solutions that answer a problem, will yield not only better design, but better content/quality for whatever it is you’re trying to deliver to your customer.

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