Unwrapping the Potential: The Power of Packaging Design

First impressions aren't just important – they're everything, the first interaction with a product is often through its packaging. This crucial moment goes beyond encasing the product for protection; packaging design serves as an effective tool in communicating with and captivating potential buyers. It stands as the primary 'in the moment' influencer and often determines whether a consumer will pick up a product or overlook it. With only seconds to make an impact, effective packaging design must quickly and clearly introduce the product and what it promises to deliver, differentiate from competitors, align with the brand’s identity, define consumer perceptions and expectations, and ultimately influence the consumer to make the purchase – which is some pretty heavy lifting for an often overlooked product ‘container’.

From my perspective as a Designer, well aware of the underlying principles and influence of packaging design, my purchasing decisions are frequently guided by packaging alone. This is especially true when in unfamiliar territory, shopping in a category where I don't have any go-to brands yet. In my case, perhaps there is an element of respect and appreciation for great design, but there is no doubt that elements like colour, typography, imagery, layout, messaging, materials etc., play a crucial role in shaping our initial perception of what the product promises before it's even experienced.

These elements are strategically utilised to shape consumer perceptions to align with a product's positioning and messaging, and therefore, influence purchasing behaviour. For example, different colours can stir emotions and convey key messages, while font choice, imagery and layout can be used to distinguish luxury from practicality, and incorporating sustainable materials and designs not only appeals to environmentally conscious consumers but also reflects a brand's commitment to environmental responsibility.

Additionally, packaging has a tangible authenticity which is hard to recreate in the digital world. Packaging is not only displayed in-store, but is brought back to consumers’ homes, providing multiple valuable impressions.

Packaging design plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer perception, ensuring differentiation, fostering brand loyalty and ultimately, driving sales. Combining strategy, aesthetics and functionality, we can craft packaging that not only protects its contents but also significantly influences buyers and enhances buyer experience.

Take a look at some of our recent packaging work here, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are looking for refreshed packaging solutions.

Marketing in the Age of AI: Exploring the Pros and Cons

AI. The two letters on everyone’s lips at the moment. It certainly feels that almost all of the digital platforms we use on a daily basis are constantly integrating new AI tools and features. Even in just writing this intro, Google Docs used smart predictions to finish my sentence!

Alongside well-known tools like ChatGPT, platforms including Google Search and Ads, Adobe Creative Cloud, Buffer and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) are bringing out their own AI-powered features such as AI-generated written content, graphics and even stock photos.

So what does this all mean for you as a business owner, especially when it comes to marketing?

There are plenty of pros and cons to using AI in marketing, let’s explore a few.

Pros of AI in marketing

It saves time

AI tools can absolutely save you time and enable you to work more efficiently.

Infinite idea generation

Stuck on a new idea? With some simple prompting, AI can generate 100s of ideas in seconds, or even flesh out an idea you already have. Full transparency, I used ChatGPT to generate title suggestions for this article after drafting it.

Access to different skill sets

The power of AI gives you access to skills you might not have in your team; whether it’s design, copywriting or social media planning.

Cons of AI in marketing

It can’t replace creativity

As advanced as the technology is getting, it’s still not at a level of replicating human creativity and collaboration. A critical eye is required to edit and adapt AI-generated content to best fit your brand.

The risk of sameness

It’s hard to stand out in the marketplace if your content looks the same as your competitors. If you’re using AI tools, your competitors probably are too! Using AI-generated content puts you at risk of looking and sounding the same as your competitors.

Accuracy of information

AI tools will not always provide you with the most accurate or up-to-date information. ChatGPT 3.5 (the version you are most likely using, unless you have a paid subscription) only has knowledge up to 2022, and can’t tell you who won the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

While AI tools can be a great way to get you thinking and ultimately reduce some of the time-consuming elements of your work, they often can’t produce a polished result and lack the nuance required to represent your brand to your ideal audience.

If you’re looking to utilise AI tools in your business, get in touch with our team for tips about how best to prompt AI to produce the most on-brand and effective solutions for you.

Animating Success: How Motion Design Elevates Brand Identity

In the evolving landscape of brand identity, animation has emerged as a powerful tool for design studios seeking to breathe life into their work. Designing for digital spaces has become an integral part of the branding process, reflecting the growth of video content in driving web traffic.

The surge of motion and animation within the digital space encourages companies to view branding and animation as inseparable elements. Modern brands span across platforms, from the digital sphere to social media and video channels.

Establishing an emotional connection with consumers is the cornerstone of effective branding. Animation, with its capacity to infuse sound and motion, makes the creation of this emotional bond seamless and convincing. Animation becomes a pivotal tool in shaping a brand's identity, embedding it with traits like engagement, interactivity, or professionalism, therefore serving as an amplifier of your brand’s personality.

Animation can evoke emotions, like how we remember individuals by their speech or expressions. A person's personality makes them memorable, and this principle applies equally to brands.

In the world of digital marketing, video has claimed the throne. Video marketing is a potent strategy for captivating and converting target audiences. With the influx of information in our daily lives, the modern human's attention span for ads has been reduced to a mere 8 seconds. This means marketers must make an immediate and lasting impression, and video is a great way to grab someone’s attention.

The synergy between motion and graphic design is evident. Good motion design is rooted in solid graphic design principles, and should be integral to the design process from its inception. Designing a logo or visual element without considering its animation potential is a futile exercise.

While incorporating animation into a visual identity may pose a challenge, it is increasingly becoming the norm. The critical aspect is not merely designing a static brand and attempting to animate it later, but ensuring that animation is an integral part of the brand's DNA from the outset.

Technology is reshaping the way brands communicate, ushering them into a predominantly digital realm. This shift opens the door for motion design to play a more significant role in conveying a brand's narrative and enhancing visual communication. However, it is crucial to emphasise that motion should not be used for the sake of it; it should always serve a meaningful purpose.

Motion design is more than just a means of presenting a brand's solutions; it is a creative medium for weaving a coherent narrative that lingers in the minds of customers. In this digital age, motion design ensures that a brand's story is not only told, but remembered.

The Importance of a Launch Campaign

So you’ve spent time investing in your brand, perhaps a total rebrand, a brand refresh or a new website…now what? A launch campaign is crucial to the success of your new brand and website, now is the time to get a great return on your investment.

Here are three key reasons you should launch your new brand with a comprehensive campaign.

Take your existing clients on the journey

When you’re launching your new brand or website, it’s essential to bring your existing clients on the journey. Let them know what you’re doing and why. You may even want to give them a sneak peek, acknowledge their loyalty and make them the first to know what’s new and exciting.

A launch campaign can highlight how your new brand will deliver the same excellent products and services to them, with a new, fresh look. If the way your clients interact with your business is changing, make sure they understand what is changing and how it will make life easier for them. Ensure your clients understand why the business is changing and how it benefits them.

Tell the story of your new brand through channels including organic social media and email marketing, where you know you’re reaching existing clients.

Keep it consistent

By launching your new brand, you’re helping to ensure consistent use of the new brand. If a mix of old and new branding exists in the market, this can cause confusion for existing and potential clients. Better clarity helps build a strong brand.

Whether your launch is staggered, or all happening at once, a launch campaign helps draw the line between old and new. Make sure your launch campaign includes updating your brand across all channels and platforms, from web to print, social media profiles to invoices and more.

If your partners display brand assets (such as your logo) on their website, ensure they are provided with the new brand assets and guidelines of how to use them. Keep it consistent everywhere your brand is visible.

Reach new audiences

Launching your new brand will likely result in catching the eyes of new prospects who may have overlooked your business in the past. A launch campaign is the perfect time to capitalise on potential customers who are taking notice of your brand for the first time.

Targeting new audiences will require different messaging and platforms to what you use to get in front of existing clients. Optimising your website for search engines, along with paid digital and social advertising will help build brand awareness with new audiences.

It’s easy to get excited about getting your new brand out into the market as soon as possible, but it’s important to think of the bigger picture. A strategically planned and well-executed launch campaign will not only help engage your existing clients, build a strong brand and reach new audiences, it will allow you to get the most out of your brand investment.

For support with your brand launch campaign, don’t hesitate to get in touch via [email protected]

India Meets The Mediterranean

Our team was tasked with the exciting opportunity to develop the visual campaign for the event, 'India Meets The Mediterranean.' This extraordinary festival, hosted by The Mediterranean Food Co. and Bombay Bazaar, was a celebration of the vibrant fusion of two diverse cultures, with a spotlight on their unique culinary and cultural offerings.

Our goal was to encapsulate this vibrancy into an engaging visual narrative that embodied the fusion of Indian and Mediterranean cultures. At the core of our design was a dynamic colour palette, taking inspiration from the flavours and cultures of these regions. The fusion of lively colours and striking illustrations, created a visual campaign that not only promoted the event but also deeply engaged the viewer.

We seamlessly integrated visual elements from both cultures into the campaign, creating a promise of an enriching encounter of flavours and traditions. The visual elements were thoughtfully designed to capture the essence of both cultures, blending their colours, flavours, and aesthetics beautifully. This integration was not only symbolic but also pivotal in communicating the spirit of the event.

Strategic placement of posters, billboards, leaflets, and engaging social media adverts played a key role in generating significant buzz and widespread awareness. This collaborative effort successfully enticed a diverse audience to participate and immerse themselves in this unique experience.

At the event, attendees were treated to a gastronomic extravaganza that featured an impressive array of dishes, showcasing the diverse culinary traditions of both regions. From the aromatic Indian street food to the authentic Mediterranean fare, the event truly was a feast for the senses.

The 'India Meets The Mediterranean' food festival was a true celebration of cultural fusion. The visual campaign set the stage for an unforgettable journey of taste and tradition.

Strategic Foresight: The Importance of Long-Term Goals over Short-Term Wins in Business Marketing and Branding

Balancing short-term sales activation and long-term brand building is key in marketing, ideally following a 40/60 spending rule. However, it's not only about resource allocation, but also about employing distinct approaches for each.

Short-term sales activation, representing 40% of the marketing budget, uses logical strategies and features, coupled with clear calls to action. Tactics like flash sales, limited-time offers, and targeted digital ads aim to immediately engage customers, spurring them towards quick decisions and purchases. These strategies, built on a rational appeal, are designed to generate immediate cash flow, providing an instant sales uplift in fast-paced competitive markets.

In contrast, long-term brand building, consuming 60% of the resources, greatly benefits from the use of humour and emotion. This strategy is about establishing a strong, enduring relationship with the audience over time. By leveraging content marketing, SEO, public relations, and customer service, businesses can create a lasting brand identity, trust, and loyalty. Humour and emotion, by resonating with consumers on a deeper level, enhance the effectiveness of these long-term strategies, generating sustainable growth.

In summary, applying a balanced marketing strategy means not only spending 40% on short-term sales activation and 60% on long-term brand building, but also understanding and utilising the different emotional appeals that each strategy thrives on. By using logic and immediate calls to action for short-term activation, and humour and emotional resonance for long-term brand cultivation, businesses can navigate both the swift currents of market trends and the steady flow of long-term brand development.

Reframing Recession: A Reset for New Zealand's Economy

Recession? Scratch that, it's a reset.

Early last month, we were joined by Cameron Bagrie, former chief economist for ANZ bank, for an insightful discussion about the future trajectory of New Zealand's economy.

One of the central themes of the discussion was a redefinition of the economic landscape. Cameron framed the past five years as a period of 'business as abnormal.' He suggested that the impending economic downturn is not so much a decline, but rather a reset to normal.

Cameron predicted a more challenging economic environment over the next three years. However, this adversity may be an opportunity for exceptional business operators to distinguish themselves from the mediocre. As he put it, "It’s going to put the fun back into running a business.”

The time has come, Cameron emphasised, for long-term investments and a strategic focus on capturing market share.

Following Cameron's presentation, Ron Montgomery, business development manager here at The Mark, shared industry knowledge on how to think about marketing in a recession.

In a normal marketing environment it can be expensive to increase market share, you’re trying to lure customers away while your competitor is also speaking with them, then a recession comes along and the first thing on the chopping block can be marketing. This presents a perfect opportunity to grow - when your competitor is cutting back.

Ron discussed Share of Voice. This represents your marketing spend as a percentage of the total in your field. For example, if you spend $100,000 out of a total $1,000,000 spent in your industry, you have a 10% Share of Voice. Significantly, this percentage often predicts your future market share - if your Share of Voice increases or decreases, your market share tends to follow suit.

Our tips for navigating the recession:
1) Recognise changes in your target market's priorities and ensure your messaging and tone reflect these shifts.
2) Conduct an audit of your marketing spend, aiming to refine and reallocate it to more cost-effective and high-impact strategies.
3) Make investments in long-term assets, like a distinctive brand and high-impression marketing tactics such as signage, to support both short-term and long-term goals.

Using the Product Life Cycle to Inform your Marketing

The product life cycle splits your market cycle into key stages, from introduction to maturity. It’s used primarily to make marketing decisions, as your business moves through each phase of the cycle you should be thinking about how that stage impacts your marketing - strategically and tactically.

By using this model, you can make informed marketing decisions, and continue your growth cycle. Your stage informs the decision that you make, for example deciding whether to continue with a market penetration strategy or look at new markets.

This model allows you to be proactive, across your messaging, your branding and your tactics and maintain your appeal over time, rather than running out of steam.

Phase 1: Introduction

The handshake stage. This is where you are entering the market and building awareness of your product.

Generally, this will involve a high investment in marketing and advertising to build awareness and get engagement. Costs are higher in this stage as you are developing your brand, and at times, competing against existing brands that are in a different cycle stage.

In this stage, you should have defined your marketing and have tactics that reach your desired audience. This stage is great for learning - A/B testing, discovering what channels and tactics work, what audiences respond, and importantly, what doesn’t work.

Phase 2: Growth

This is where people have adopted your product. The most obvious signs are that production increases, sales are consistent and suddenly you are seeing increased demand in your product or services.

When you notice this, it’s time to shift gears in your marketing. This is where you need to think about your positioning so that you stand out to the right people.

It’s here that you think about your brand and it’s identity, fine tuning those messages and tweaking them to fit your audiences. You can start thinking about loyalty here, and how you build it through the next stages, and prevent the decline.

It’s also here that you look at new channels, and invest in these, to maintain the upwards curve. You can also look at developing your product or expanding your services.

Phase 3: Maturity

This is the most profitable stage. Where your marketing and production likely cost less, but, competition is generally higher. When sitting in this stage, you need to be thinking about how to prevent the next stage, market decline.

Here is the time to start research - get feedback from your audience and understand their needs and exactly who they are. Find out what they want to see, and what you can do better in order to stay on top. It’s also the stage where you need to decide whether to invest in product development or diversifying your markets, or both.

Depending on what you decide, this will alter your existing marketing strategy as you either launch a new product (going back to the introduction stage) or you enter a new market (again, introducing yourself).

At this stage the Ansoff Matrix can be an excellent tool for decision making and informing your marketing decision.

This matrix can be used in tandem with the product development life cycle. To use this, look at each quadrant and note the strategies that you can use in each, review the internal and internal risk factors and then weigh up the options to plan your approach.

Phase 4: Decline

The decline phase is when you’ve lost your competitive advantage and are losing market share in a saturated market.

If you’re in this stage, it’s time to start thinking, and move now, before there's no return. Look at your brand, look at any loyalty that you’ve built up, and analyse your competition. Where is the room for you to grow? How can you differentiate?

If you are in this stage, we’d recommend looking at:

Product Life Cycle and your marketing

The product life cycle allows you to quickly understand what stage your business is in,and in turn, make informed, strategic marketing decisions.

It’s a valuable tool for deciding whether to push on, navigate an entrance to new markets, or to pull back, and focus on product developments.

Whatever stage your company is in, we can help you. Speak to our team today about your strategic marketing objectives.

Building Our New Brand

You may have noticed already that we recently rolled out our new branding. With a whole new suite of colours, new logo and typefaces and positioning to match, we’ve fully refreshed our brand in line with our business and where we are today.

As a business, we know the importance of branding and the difference it makes. But also, as a business, we know how difficult it is to carve out the time to work on your own business. After 7 years, we loved our brand, but we’d also left it behind as we grew, and the market shifted.

A brand is, essentially, your first impression as a business and what shapes peoples perceptions of you. And we wanted to change how we were being seen by others. A strong brand tunes into your emotions, it attracts the right people, and it empowers your business. At The Mark, we love crafting impactful and beautiful brands that not only help businesses achieve their goals but also help them differentiate themselves in todays fiercely competitive markets. Our approach is rooted in authenticity and we strive to accurately reflect a company's personality and values in every project we undertake. We believe that a brand should be memorable for all the right reasons, highlighting the unique qualities and strengths of a business without resorting to empty marketing slogans or gimmicks. Rather than being a mere window dressing, every aspect of a brand should serve a purpose and contribute to the overall message. Our goal is to create brands that resonate deeply with audiences, much like meeting a new friend who you immediately feel a connection with.

We wanted to show people that while the core of what we do is centred around great design, we do more than just pretty. We create effective brands, websites and identities for businesses across the globe. The people we work with are growth minded, hungry, humble and smart. Knowing who you are and who you are speaking to sets the strategic direction for the design.

We started with our own internal brand workshop, mapping out the future of what we wanted to be as a business. We looked into our four pillars: Vision, Mission, Purpose and Values. Here’s what we came up with:

Our Vision: Make a positive impact.

Our vision is to harness the power of branding as a force for good. Crafting authentic, human-centric brands that forge deep connections, drive progress, inspire action, and make a positive impact.

Mission: Craft powerful brands.

By leveraging our expertise, we craft authentic, human-centered brand experiences that empower our clients to reach their full potential. We prioritise people and cultivate meaningful relationships based on trust, connection, and shared values. We promote brand loyalty, advocacy and growth.

Purpose: Take people further.

We put people at the center of everything we do and use branding to drive positive change. Our purpose is to create human-centric brands that connect with their audiences and take people and businesses further.

Our Values

We pulled together all of our thoughts, our musings and our ideology from these sessions to create 5 core values that really underpin every piece of work that we do as a team. 

We’re always looking forwards. To the next step, the next innovation. New techniques, new technologies and new ways of doing things. We’re always looking to learn and discover.

Design without Boundaries
We look to push the boundaries and challenge expectations in the world of design. We believe in taking risks, experimenting with new ideas and breaking away from traditional methods to produce exceptional work.

Do Good Work
We strive to create exceptional work all the time, no matter the type of project. Our process begins with thorough research, allowing us to tailor our work to meet the unique needs of each project and achieve outstanding results.

Be Nice
People are at the very centre of what we do. In our dynamic and creative industry, we embrace all ideas and perspectives, treating everyone with respect and ensuring that everyone’s input is valued.

We’ll always be honest. About our capabilities. About what’s best for you. If it doesn’t sit right with us, we won’t move forward with it.

The Design

Our business really is all about helping other people, other businesses move forward and it was paramount that our new brand reflected this.

With these in mind, our Senior Designer Jack took the lead on designing the new brand. Our new brand went beyond the logo, and encompassed building a whole suite of assets and developing a new tone of voice that elevates what we do. Here’s some of the design thinking behind our new brand.

A brand is a complex entity made up of various tangible and intangible elements that work together to communicate an overall message. Among these elements are fonts, colours, logo, photography, and wording. As a business that exists to help other businesses, we wanted our logo to be subtle and nimble, focusing on highlighting our clients instead of ourselves.

We opted for a creatively enhanced wordmark that can be used with or without our icon device. After much design experimentation and iteration, we developed our icon device, which features a simple but unique arrow that embodies progress, momentum, and success. This versatile symbol can be used in a variety of ways to effectively communicate our message of helping to take people further. For example, we use multiple arrows against an image of someone achieving a goal to convey our commitment to helping people succeed. We also incorporate the arrow into our wordmark to create a memorable and unique logo that communicates our message. Another creative use of our arrow icon is to turn the arrows towards each other, forming a stylised letter X that conveys the message of "hitting the mark." This unique application of the arrow symbol allows us to add depth and meaning to our brand message while maintaining consistency and recognition across all our communication channels.

Furthermore, we utilise the arrow within the letter K of our logo to reinforce our brand message of moving people forward. By using a simple and universally recognised shape, we're able to communicate our underlying message while creating a distinct symbol that people can associate with us and we can use flexibly. Ultimately, our mission is to help businesses and individuals achieve their full potential, and our icon devise reflects this commitment to progress and success.

Another strong visual element to help rienforce our message of Taking People Further, is the use of people photography, testimonials, and language. At the heart of our brand are people, and we wanted to highlight the genuine and authentic connections we've built with clients, as well as what our business is focused around. To achieve this, we showcase the people we've worked with, testimonials, how we've helped them, and communicate our desire to help even more people in the future. We utilise images featuring individuals who convey specific emotions such as passion, excitement, or determination, as we aim to associate these feelings with our brand. It’s carefully crafted to bring these messages to the forefront, emphasising our commitment to helping people achieve their goals and reach new heights. By focusing on the human element of our business, we create a brand that is relatable, trustworthy, and engaging.

The use of colour was paramount to creating our identity. It serves not only as a carrier of symbolic meanings but also as a tool for designers to convey specific messages. A well-designed colour palette can significantly enhance a brand's overall image. We think reaching your full potential, whether it's on a personal or business level, is exciting. To capture this feeling in our brand, we have created a versatile and bold colour palette. Each colour has been carefully selected to ignite excitement, make key information stand out, or be used in a subtle way to support other areas of communication. Our colour palette is a crucial part of our brand, helping us to communicate our message with authenticity and beauty. As designers, we have a genuine fondness for colours, which also drives us to incorporate vibrant and visually appealing hues in our brand's visual elements.

In essence, our brand is constructed by amalgamating various distinctive elements. These elements could be in the form of captivating images of people, coupled with an arrow pointing towards progress. Alternatively, it could be a minimalistic yet compelling people focused text utilising our beautiful font, Lausanne, set against a striking background. Even just our logo paired with our tagline can effectively communicate our message. It is imperative to align all these components with our brand's core purpose to ensure a coherent and potent brand image that resonates with both our existing and prospective clients.

Building a strong brand requires a continuous effort to ensure it remains relevant and resonates with a businesses target audience. It needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changing trends and customer needs. Crafting our brand, based on our purpose in the world and our teams values means our brand is engrained within us, as designers, problem-solvers and marketers. It’s who we really are and it showcases what we really do. We can help you achieve this too. Dare to go further.