Designing for Graphic Identity

Walk through any store and look at packages on the shelves. Decide which ones catch your eye in any given section, and why. Chances are the majority of packages that stand out have what's called "graphic identity."

Graphic identity is defined as a unique two- or three-dimensional graphic symbol that may be recognized by target buyers as being associated with a particular brand or business.

Sometimes this graphic identity takes the simple form of a unique brand logo or name with unusual letter shapes. For example, Exxon is an artificial computer-derived name without prior meaning. However, the unusual double XX in the name provides a unique graphic identity that makes this name recognizable even at distances where normal words are unreadable. The United Airlines logo also has similar unique graphic identity, even at several miles away.

Crisco Oil has an unusual graphic identity in the familiar wreath-shaped window on a blue background. Most consumers readily identify this brand from across the room. However, few can recall that the familiar blue can has many different photos of fried chicken, pie, and other foods within the wreath-shape.

Small businesses often cannot afford to advertise or promote at the same levels as larger competitors. Therefore, they need to design graphic identity into their logos and packages to ensure reinforcement of uniqueness and positioning. The package may be the only advertising and business positioning communication a small business has.


Packaging Digest may give you a few ideas!

You can get it from Cahners Publishing, 1350 E. Touhy Avenue, P.O.Box 5080, Des Plaines, IL 60018 (847 635-8800).