Layers Of Communication

Layers Of Communication

Have you ever studied the packaging of your favorite snack? There is definitely a lot of science and research that goes into package design—from package style and material to color decisions and layout choices. But we are interested in breaking down and understanding all the messages applied to each of these packages. Here, we dissect the package above into seven layers of communication:

Layer 1 — Evocative

This layer is typically in the background, but sets the tone, mood and scene for the story of the product. In the example above, you see an illustration that evokes the product’s Hawaiian heritage and (implied) origin.

Layer 2 — Proprietary

This layer points to the differentiating and unique brand components—whether it be the name, logo, logo mark or identity. The brand name, “Hawaiian,” is featured prominently and is a major point of differentiation for the product.

Layer 3 — Type 

This layer orients you towards the specific offering of the product line. Most often, this layer is communicated through words, but it can also be further reinforced through other devices such as color. Hawaiian chips offer different flavors in different colored packaging. 

Layer 4 — Philosophy

This layer appears as a statement of the quality standards of the product, and a guarantee to its customers. In our example, the brand speaks to the product’s sensory qualities, as well as its “freshness and authenticity of the islands.” 

Layer 5 — Information

This layer appears as nutritional facts, ingredients or special qualities such as gluten-free or organic.

Layer 6 — Dialogue

This layer appears as a story and includes the attributes of the product and/or a history of the company. It has a very conversational, rather than educational, tone. Hawaiian chips ask you to “imagine yourself sailing on the blue waters of the Pacific headed toward an island of tropical paradise.”

Level 7 — Promotion

Although this particular package does not include any promotional communication, you could easily imagine how a package could include a “New,” “Now 20% Less Salt,” or some other kind of promotional message.

We often encourage our clients to think of their stores as packages, and to apply this type of thinking to their decor programs. If you would like to learn more about how to organize your in-store communications program, email us a note in the Contact section!


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