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70 percent of purchase decisions are made in-store and 68 percent of in-store
 purchases are impulse buys.

Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to reach consumers, build brand equity and stimulate consumption through effective designs that speak to customers from the shelf, igniting conversation and create viral recognition.

Research shows that after two weeks, we tend to remember only 30% of what we see, 50% of what we hear and see, and 70% of what we say. The store is an ideal marketing canvas:

Good design gets people talking about your brand.

They experience the high quality of your product, sharing their emotional brand connection with others as your brand advocates. Great design amplifies your results, delivering a significant return on your design investment.


Packaging that Yields Return-On-Investment

Sugarman Design’s brand identity for WholeSoy & Co. draws the customer in with fully rendered fruit illustrations. The large singular image on each cup creates appeal and shelf presence. From its first year on the market, WholeSoy’s Peach flavor was the best selling in the entire Peach Yogurt (dairy and non-dairy) category.

The design has remained the same since 2005, so WholeSoy’s investment has been amortized over 7 years and continues to yield a substantial ROI.


Sugarman Design’s proprietary design process creates Awareness, promoting customer Interaction with your product, inviting Purchase. Just interacting with your product packaging creates Pleasure for your ideal customers who then strive to repeat the experience.

Does your Brand Story increase your Return-On-Investment?




Leading brands recognize the importance of strong category positioning.

Your Brand Story must clearly exemplify your product’s role in your customers’ lives. Iconic brands are built through consumers’ desire for self-expression. Cultural icons speak to cultural anxieties and aspirations, representing contradictions that are in the air at a particular historical moment.

Here is an example of how Sugarman Design helped our client to establish position in the marketplace.


Taking Cues from the Wine Industry

WholeVine Products, sister company to Jackson Family Wines, is a pioneer in a brand new category of food ingredients made from vineyard by-products. Crushed from grape seeds and grape skins, WholeVine’s products include culinary oils, flours, crackers and gluten-free cookies. Sugarman Design used cues from wine label design to create the WholeVine brand identity and clearly position them as producers of vineyard-sourced, varietal driven products. For the grape seed oils, we started with a warm white wine label stock and classic fonts often used in the wine industry. Custom botanical illustrations of grape clusters were commissioned for a timeless, viticultural reference.  We chose clear glass to debut the color differences in the grape seed oil varietals. The refined, understated design gives the oils an upscale wine inspired identity.

Sugarman Design Group identifies untapped positions for our clients to generate even more differentiation and market value.

Does your Brand Story increase your Return-On-Investment?




Package design is much more than the way a product looks on the shelf. Highly effective design incorporates functional considerations serving both the manufacturer and the consumer. Great design improves your customer and business processes, saving you money, time and improving relationships. Here are some examples of package design that have created process improvements for both businesses and their customers. We show both Sugarman Design clients and other well-known brands.


Packaging Goes Clean and Green

Method Home Care Products is committed to creating eco-friendly home cleaning products in sustainable packaging. Their package design creates a powerful brand story and makes their packaging better for the planet. All of their bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic, resulting in zero waste and a 70% lower carbon footprint. In 2003, they debuted their first eco-friendly hand wash in the brand’s iconic teardrop-shaped bottle. It became one of Method’s most popular products. Five years later, Method improved process for both consumers and the planet by expanding on the concept of sustainability with refills for their teardrop bottles.

Size Matters

Sugarman Design client, Circle Foods, needed a new package design for their Mexican foods product line, Nuevo Grille. Along with creating new branding which dominates on the shelf, they also changed the size of the box. The new square configuration held the same amount of product and enabled Circle Foods to ship 30% more product per truck, reducing distribution expenses by the same amount.


New Shape Creates Opportunity

Sugarman Design client, CedarLane Natural Foods, switched to ambidextrous packaging to take advantage of retail shelf space. The packaging includes two front panels, one with a horizontal orientation and one that is vertical. The taller, vertical orientation makes room for one more product on the shelf in certain stores. The horizontal format is still available for more traditional retail settings, allowing for the best opportunities in both worlds.


Design Impacts Your Bottom Line

Along with telling the brand story, the creative process of package design produces improvements in packaging configuration, new efficiencies on the production line and improvements in shipping materials (to name a few). Package design creates a Return-On-Investment for both manufacturers and consumers.

Does your Brand Story increase your Return-On-Investment?





Creating Viral Engagement for Your Brand

The ultimate goal for every brand is to promote viral engagement and customer participation (You might remember this as one of the four ROI’s from a previous article). The key is crafting a Brand Story so unusual or attention grabbing that it automatically creates brand advocates and brand delight.

Viral engagement begins with creating a rewarding experience with the customer. Great design promotes customer feedback, interaction, social media engagement, product reviews, and sharing with other potential customers – word of mouth from a friend is marketing gold.

But let’s not forget package design, 70% of shopping decisions are still made in brick and mortar stores. The package design must capture attention and build interest, inspiring the customer to pick up the product and make a purchase. Some iconic brands are masters at promoting Participation. For example, the iPhone’s innovative touch screen demanded customer handling and trial. KFC invited engagement with “Finger Lickin’ Good” as their tagline.

Sugarman Design’s work for Frankly Fresh (shown above) uses humorous illustrations to draw the customer in and tell an imaginative brand story. Consumers can’t help but pick up the package to learn more about it. The products are then supported by an active website where coupons and fun graphics invite viewers to get involved.

For Frankly Fresh’s line of Seafood Salads, we included photos with serving suggestions on the front and recipes on the back panel, inviting consumers to learn more ways to enjoy the products.


Inspiring Participation on Your Website:

People derive value by contributing. They feel valuable, relevant, proud and, even more importantly, included. These positive feelings can pave the way for positive brand associations. Participation can be either indirect and passive, or direct and active, and both types have value.

1 – Indirect Participation

Indirect and passive participation occurs through action-oriented titles, using a conversational tone to your text, and incorporating links into podcasts and video blogs.

2 – Direct Participation

Encourage direct and active participation by asking questions about customers’ opinions, needs or experiences, offering opportunities to create or rate products, and taking polls, to name a few methods. Creating an online environment that fosters participation opens the door for building a bond and developing relationships.

3 – Be “Information Central” About Your Brand

On your website, provide product information, how-to articles, recipes, and FAQs – relevant content that will fuel social engagement. Be the main source of complete information about your brand and provide complimentary informational or interest-focused content around your products and services.

4 – Create Packaging that Invites Engagement

Like our packages at the beginning of this article, incorporate relevant imagery that develops your brand story in an unexpected and exciting way that will inspire consumers to handle your product.

Can your Brand Story establish you as an
iconic brand in your category? 

Take our free quiz to find out how you can improve your design return-on-investment.




Many people think design is just about eye-catching images and shapes,
but they’re missing the point. There are many other ways design
delivers dollars.

Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind”, references interesting research results about how much money good design generates for companies. Research from the London Business School indicates that company profits rise about 3-4% for every 1% invested in product design. Other research reveals a higher stock value for design-oriented companies by a “wide margin” over companies that don’t foster a favorable experience through their goods and services.

Great package design delivers on four types of Return-On-Investment:

Sugarman Design loves examples of design that deliver on ROI. For example, EVOL Foods has created a brand identity that challenges design convention to maximize their investment with all four of the above ROI design processes.


Engaging Prospects with LOVE

EVOL Foods created ROI starting with their name. “EVOL” is LOVE spelled backwards. Once consumers make the visual connection with the anagram, many continue to think of the brand as LOVE instead of EVOL. Once again, testimony of the power of that first impression lives on in our minds. The “e” creates a target too, since our minds are drawn to things that look like mistakes.

Evol’s brand message also makes an emotional connection. “Love what you eat” is the foundation of their mission statement: ” … to inspire people to care about where food comes from and how it is produced by making REAL food that tastes delicious. Love what you eat”.

The Evolution of EVOL

EVOL’s originated as another company called Phil’s Fresh Foods. Phil had been making healthy, all natural burritos using sustainable practices since 2002. In 2009 he met Brendan and Tom, two savvy entrepreneurs who had big ideas for Phil’s burritos. They merged and rebranded, creating EVOL Foods, a new venue for Phil’s great products.

In addition to engaging prospects (ROI #1), the concept of LOVE drives the package design and generates return on investment in the other three ROI categories:

Sustainable Practices Improve Business Process

Everything about EVOL’s packaging depicts their commitment to straightforward honesty in ingredients, packaging and the environment. Cartons are made with uncoated 100% recyclable chipboard. Compostable serving bowls are made from natural agricultural by-products.


Authenticity & Austerity Reinforces Brand Position

Simple, sparely-adorned packaging communicates their brand position of straightforward honesty in ingredients, packaging and commitment to sustainable manufacturing.

LOVE Increases Profits

Success was easy after incorporating the mission of LOVE into their Brand Story.  Within three months of the rebranding, EVOL Burritos became the #2 natural/organic frozen burrito brand in the country. Branding and package design played a large role in their success because it was easy for customers to share the EVOL Brand Story.
Before the rebranding, they were a company of 16 employees selling 127,000 cases of burritos per year. By 2011, EVOL expanded their product line to meet customer demand and the company grew to 71 full-time employees, making 6,611,636 units per year!

We took EVOL through Sugarman Design’s proprietary brand quiz and they did very well. (100 points possible)

Brand Quiz Score: 84 Points

Does your Brand Story increase your Return-On-Investment?

Contact Paula Sugarman at 916.965.5900 |

Paula Sugarman is owner of Sugarman Design, a full service branding and package design studio specializing in Design Return-On-Investment. Sugarman Design uses a proprietary 3D process to generate award-winning designs and generate profit. We consider your distribution and shelf domination processes as part of the brand design. We evaluate how your clients and wholesale buyers engage with your product – and how a unique Brand Story can enhance that experience, speeding purchase decisions.



Every brand tells their story through components that comprise their visual identity. Your logo and product packaging is often the consumer’s first introduction to your brand. Think of it as your first date with your customer. A tuxedo will make a far better impression than a leisure suit and lays a solid foundation for the entire evening. Your tuxedo is your package design and it tells your visual brand story.

Savvy manufacturers utilize every visual brand element to relate to their audience. At Sugarman Design, we call our method The Five Languages of Design. In this article we will share how they are used by many successful companies. You will have the opportunity to explore how well your own brand story works and if your products are appropriately dressed for the party.

The Five Languages of Design – Formula for Brand Success

Plain and simple, an effective package design attracts the consumer’s attention, inspires them to pick it up and learn more, and ultimately to put it in their shopping cart. In every case, the most powerful package designs incorporate The Five Languages of Design and not only sell products, but create brand advocates.

Here’s a brief description of each language and how it works.

Start with a Distinctive Logo

The iconic logos above are great examples of brand identities that are instantly recognizable. Utilizing the Five Languages of Design, their unique concepts are distinctive, standing out from their competition because they look like no others. And through years of strategically consistent use, they have become memorable even without the use of their corporate names.

Language 1 – Type, Imagery and Symbolism:

Uniquely stylized typography, photography and illustrations set the stage and incorporate a language of symbolism based on visual elements which are universally understood and time tested. The Betty Crocker brand incorporated all three elements to tell her story for 75 years. While Betty may not be the hippest chef in the kitchen, she illustrates how iconic brands continually update to stay relevant to their core demographic. Betty’s portrait (in use since 1921), originally portrayed the woman who calmed and instructed inexperienced young brides and inspired frustrated older women stuck in a rut. As women’s roles changed, so did Betty, until her portrait was replaced in 1996 by an universal symbol for cooking….the easily recognizable red spoon. The Betty Crocker lettering is in script style; friendly, open and accessible, representing the calm and reassuring personality Betty portrayed for all those years. Below are three of the nine updates to Betty’s portrait.


Language 2 – Color and Texture

The Hammer and The Feather:

Color and texture create impact, connect with consumers and communicate price point. Customers who pick up your product and look it over are more likely to make a purchase. A recent Retail Touch Points report states that 90% of shoppers are still visiting physical retail stores to make their purchases. Once your product is in their hands, the likelihood of a sale increases exponentially. Brick and mortar retail stores still command the majority of shopper traffic because it allows buyers to physically (and sometimes emotionally) interact with your product.

Color – The Hammer

The language and meaning of different colors has been proven through the latest scientific studies. Did you know that red is the first color babies are able to see? Each color holds special properties and associations in your customer’s subconscious mind, influencing how they feel about your product. Color is also used to attract attention on the retail shelf. Eukanuba Pet Food uses the power of hot pink to help buyers find their products easily and quickly, clearly differentiating the brand and promoting sales.


Texture – The Feather

The visual and kinesthetic experience created by texture can be used to define product pricing. For example, wine labels incorporate the tactile processes of varnishing, foiling and embossing to describe products, encouraging customers to pick up the package and feel the detail. On varietals in the low price range, bright or contrasting colors are often used to stand out against the competition. Higher end wines are depicted in more sophisticated and muted colors like the wines they represent. Embosses attract attention with a lighter touch, more like a feather, describing the subtle nuances of special vintages.


Language 3 – Shapes

Shape is used in many ways to describe products or draw the eye in. We call it creating a bullseye. Everything from the shape of your logo, logotype, label and package design offers a unique communication experience for your customer. Shapes speak to all of us on a very basic level. Studies reveal that children as young as 18 months recognize product logos….long before they can read.

Annie’s Natural Foods uses the bunny shape to attract attention, help mothers find the package on the shelf, and make brand advocates out of children before they can even read.


Liquor distillers have been utilizing interesting shapes to differentiate their brands for centuries. High powered executives recognize and relate to their favorite brands through these time tested bottle shapes and the textures associated with them.

Language 4 – Engagement Components

Compelling design that incorporates the first three languages creates engagement. When you encourage people to look more closely at your brand by interacting, you are one step closer to an unforgettable brand story. Engagement components like your URL, QR codes, 800 number, recipes, consumer reviews, and others significantly impact your sales. The highest performing businesses use consumer insights in 80% of sales and merchandising (GOOD Magazine, March 2010). In fact, 60% of retailers use customer reviews to increase product sales (, July 2009). The more engagement opportunities you can provide, the better chance you have of relating to your customer on a viral level.

Language 5 – Visual Impact for Shelf Differentiation

Visual impact is the orientation of all of the design components to create a package that dominates the retail shelf or web space and speaks directly to your targeted audience. At Sugarman Design, we determine what elements we want the viewer to look at first on the package. By developing a visual hierarchy of consumer messages we increase understanding, retention and engagement.

Consumers define themselves by the products they buy. Speaking to them in all five languages creates a powerful visual brand message that makes sure your customers understand you as well as you understand them.

Effective brand stories have a high “OOOH-Factor” because they skillfully use all 5 languages of design.


Does your Visual Brand Identity speak in the Five Languages of Design?



Contact Paula Sugarman at 916.965.5900 |

Paula Sugarman is owner of Sugarman Design, a full service branding and package design studio specializing in Design Return-On-Investment. Sugarman Design uses a proprietary 3D process to generate award-winning designs and generate profit. We consider your distribution and shelf domination processes as part of the brand design. We evaluate how your clients and wholesale buyers engage with your product – and how a unique Brand Story can enhance that experience, speeding purchase decisions.