How a visual brand analysis helps turn shoppers into buyers


While the retail landscape is changing, the retail shelf continues to be the place where   food brands live or die. It takes less than 3 seconds to make a purchase decision at shelf and unseen is unsold.

With this in mind, I’d like to help you – help your consumers – choose your brand. Read on to learn how this easy as 1-2-3 Visual Brand analysis will make you stand out at shelf and challenge leading brands!

Whether you are a start-up food manufacturer or a legacy brand, please do read on. Reading time is less than 3 minutes because I know you are BUSY!

A VBA ( visual brand analysis) is a 3 step process that helps brands assess, evaluate and optimize their packaging vs their competitors. The VBA process identifies perceived points of parity, points of difference and competitive threats in the assortment at the retail shelf. VBA’s can be quite complex including pricing strategies and merchandising strategies. Here I have simplified the process while still yielding great results.

Done right, a Visual Brand Analysis will help:

  • Increase shelf presence and awareness
  • Create a unified visual identity
  • Inspire and attract new consumers

Here, I assume you might be a start up business and are developing your food product packaging for the very first time.

There are 3 steps

ASSESS                             EVALUATE                     OPTIMIZE

ASSESS : The first step is to visit a retailer and spend time looking at the shelf where your products will be merchandised. Take a picture of the shelf so that you can take it with you (note some retailers require that you check in with the store manager before you click – you might want to ask first!)

Review the entire assortment and note any implied strategies and brand positioning statements from the competition. Take note of the visuals such as noticing the primary and secondary package colours in the assortment, appetite appeal cues and which value propositions and colours stand out vs the others.


Step #2 Evaluate the visual equities

Observing the visual equities of the competition in the entire assortment will provide you with valuable cues to help you unify and strengthen your brand message as well as raise brand awareness amongst your target consumer.

As an example notice how leading cracker brands have achieved strong colour and design blocking on a busy shelf. What colour do you believe would stand out against the competition on this shelf?



Step 3 is about optimizing the VBA insights into your package design. You may have 3 or 4 new category learnings from the VBA that will help you develop a more compelling and relevant value proposition. Your insights might look like this:

1.Include close up topped cracker photography for appetite appeal on face panel

2.Show “no artificial flavours and colours and transfat free” symbols on face panel

3.90% of the packaging formats are folding carton, investigate other packaging formats.

4.For line extensions, brand X blocks well with consistent graphic elements.

Package Design Brief

When writing your design brief, be sure to include your VBA optimization observations in the brief. Your designer will appreciate knowing how your product will be merchandised and incorporate the VBA learnings to help you differentiate your package design and attract more consumers to your brand. Your designer needs to know what a typical store shelf looks like in order for you to stand out.

I hope you find the VBA process helpful.

Good selling!

Karen Blumel



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