Brand desire is the ultimate level of consumer affinity, and it is driven by how the brands reflect the aspirational mirror of the target group’s self-worth. Luxury companies such as Chanel, Dior and Estée Lauder have been able to resist the gravitational pull of commoditized categories by answering the consumer needs beyond basic wants and moving their brands toward desire.

Although we gain great insights from how these names have evolved to the sought-after brands they are today, there are also important insights that can be gathered from companies that have struggled and succeeded in separating themselves within commoditized categories. Brands such as Apple, Axe and Dove provide a unique perspective on opportunities for any brand to evolve from fulfilling needs to spurring desires. What these brands share is how they have grown from simply selling a product to generating a branded experience deeply rooted in emotional need.

Creating a unique, emotion-driven brand experience is essential in designing desire because it engages consumers beyond the product packaging or benefits.

Jack Morton Worldwide — a division of The Interpublic Group, which focuses on digital and experiential marketing for the packaged goods and retail industry — conducted a quantitative and qualitative research study in late 2011. The study, aimed at consumers in the U.S., U.K., Asia and Australia, sought to determine the importance of creating brand experiences. The research findings identified that having a unique experience with a brand is important in determining purchase, with two in five consumers willing to pay more for a brand that offers a unique experience. More than 60 percent of respondents cited the overall experience with a brand was the single best factor in determining whether they decided to purchase a product or service.

In shifting the perspective from “designing for a product” toward “creating an experience,” marketers have to implement latest packaging strategies to achieve a higher level of brand desire, namely:

Design a physical experience by leveraging how the package opens, is used or stored.

Apple does an amazing job creating an experience with how you actually access the physical product — from the way the sleeve opens to how the product is stored within the package. Heinz ketchup structural packaging also creates a ritualistic experience families have come to enjoy and appreciate, and this packaging drives greater differentiation within a very crowded category. We worked with Tetley at the launch of its canister packaging with the goal of driving sales of its specialty teas by leveraging key learnings from our ethnographic research. Consumers enjoyed the ability of collecting and stacking its range of specialty teas, and this knowledge drove brand preference and sales. Create a sensory experience.  Appealing to the senses is one of the most effective approaches in driving desire for packaged good brands, and the ability to tap the senses has a strong impact on creating connections that go beyond the functional benefits. As part of the product itself, brands can use textures on the package surface, scents that delight customers and reinforce a strong taste message (think: the smell of lemons), highly emotional visual graphics and unique sound when opening the product. All of these play an important role in creating an experience and point of difference for a brand. The key to driving desire is building a stronger emotional connection between the brand and the consumers. Axe understands the importance of creating emotional connections through the use of a sensory experience. From the black packaging and unique names for its fragrance to the ergonomically distinctive structural design and memorable smell of its offerings, Axe provides an integrated sensory experience that drives a deep adolescent male need to be desired by the opposite sex.

Extend the packaging to a  larger virtual or pop-up event. 

We worked with Maui Jim, a leading sunglasses manufacturer, on the design of pop-up retail stores with the goal of driving trial and awareness of its products during sporting events. In the arsenal of tools marketers have to offer, pop-up retail is becoming a new venue that can drive desire for brands and also create buzz that has high social media benefits. Pop-up retail can take many forms, from street-side wheeled vending stations and truck-branded events to temporary mall locations that deliver a retail experience on a short lease. In the case of Dove, the brand has created both a virtual and pop-up event approach through the launch of a learning portal plus webinars and sessions to help drive the message around real beauty. The ability of taking the key emotive need of self-worth to a two-way dialogue with the target group has allowed the brand to make a strong emotional connection with women.

Build gamification into the package. 

A necessary component of driving desire is the sense of anticipation and emotional attachment to a brand.

Games and the use of gamification provide a great platform to drive an emotional connection with brands beyond the packaging. The use of QR codes leading to a website or a game app allows brands to express themselves beyond packaging and create opportunity to drive purchase frequency. Brands such as Guinness, Pepsi and Heineken have leveraged augmented reality to create immersive experiences that effectively tell their brand stories. Creating an augmented reality through an immersive game within the store environment is another approach to build an experience that starts with the package and allows a brand to effectively communicate its story and point of difference. The use of technology is not a new idea, and it has been used with varying degrees of sophistication over the past five years. However, with the constantly increasing use of smartphones even during shopping trips, augmented reality provides brands great opportunities to tell more of their story with the package.

 Brands need to establish greater differentiation while competing in a commoditized category. Creating a branded experience that effectively engages customers is a strong first step in designing desire for brands.