Product Packaging and Brand Equity

Tangible has been researching brands and packaging since 2000 and the team has developed an expertise in identifying the core sources of brand fame and force – the key elements of a strong brand.

Many clients have an objective of identifying and reinforcing brand equity through pack design. The ongoing trademark battle between Cadburys in the UK and Nestle over the ownership issues around the equity in purple (pantone 2685C to be precise) is testimony to the importance placed in a brand’s physical assets.

Whilst we are more than happy to leave the intellectual property lawyers and trademark agents to cover the legal angles, here is our Q&A on the role of design in building brand equity with consumers.

What is Brand Equity?

Brand equity is everything of value people attribute to a particular brand. It is in itself intangible, but it comprises all the important and distinctive tangible aspects of a brand. (Now you know what inspired our own name)

Why is it important?

It represents everything that a brand has built up in the mind of a consumer over a period of time. As a result it is the manifestation of positive memories and associations; the components of brand awareness.

How is it built?

It is unique to the brand itself – locked in like the rings in a tree trunk. It comprises a set of assets such as a name (of a brand product, service a website or a twitter handle), logo , a colour, fragrance, packaging device or structure, visual icon, a character, an advertising slogan or sound symbol.

Examples please?

Name: Evian




Packaging Form:


Visual Icon:




Slogan: Have a Break


If equity is so intangible how can you tell it is there?

This is a good question: sometimes attributes or properties are mistaken as assets. The difference is that properties have no positive impact on perceptions of the brand. Assets do – they enhance equity value.

The test for this is to determine what is spontaneously brought to mind when thinking of the brand. The stronger and clearer the recollections the more likely they are assets contributing to equity.

Alternatively, take it away and see what is left. Is it still the same brand? For brands with very powerful equity the assets work in conjunction with each other. This means it takes more than one to be missing for them to be missed. In fact, sometimes absence helps focus the mind by demanding recall of what is missing.

Isn’t it all about the logo?

A logo can be important but other assets help built equity. Look at the “silent” packs developed for a Selfridges promotion in 2013. They are easily identified without logos, so equity in these brands must reside in other visual assets in addition to the logo itself.



Making It Tangible

We have developed a whole range of research techniques to get to the bottom of top level brand equity, one part of which is called our 6 S Test, another is the Brand:Pack trade off. In each case we break down the component parts of a brand into individual properties and then rebuild them with consumers to identify where they add to overall perceptions value, or in other words, help build equity.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about making the intangible tangible by identifying, managing or creating assets for your brand.

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