Icons used in product packaging play a crucial role in both purchase decisions and store operations since the workers need to place your products in designated sections. Icons are a great way to communicate important information with the onlooker without using text.
They help us to convey ideas, concepts, and emotions in a more effective manner even if the onlooker isn’t literate. In this example, I will walk you through the good and bad examples of using icons on FMCG and packaged food items and the technical reasons behind them. Let’s get started:
Practical Examples Of Utility In Icons Used For FMCG And Packaged Food
For a long time, the majority of icons used on product packaging were designed keeping in mind the healthy people and differently-abled people aren’t taken into consideration.
This could make it difficult for them to identify and interact with the product both as customers and employees. For instance, a supermarket employee may fail to recognize if a food item like packaged cake is vegetarian or if it contains eggs in case both are marked with the help of icons displayed below:
To a colour-blind person, both of them may look identical depending on their medical condition, and it can potentially limit their employment opportunities too. For a customer, this points toward the need of asking for assistance from store employees, which can be a bit intimidating for people who feel pressure in interpersonal communication.
Instead, having the below icons can help colour blind people to receive the information in a much more convenient and accurate fashion:
We need to make sure that our products and services are accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or mental abilities.
The below example can be a good fit for regions with a high level of literacy but for multicultural and multilingual regions; it may fail to solve the problem:
This problem can be easily solved if you use the below icons to indicate the ingredient sources for your packaged food/FMCG items:
Adding The Utilitarian Perspective To Icons Used On Packaging
This is not just about making products and services accessible for users with disabilities; it is also about making them accessible for everyone. This can be achieved by developing better icon designs that will help us make our products and services more accessible for all users, including those who have disabilities.
For instance, the vegetarian and non vegetarian marker icons discussed above would also make it easier for children to understand the food type and make an informed decision.
Similarly, when adding a ‘recycle icon’, try to avoid the below pattern as it may not be easy to understand for everyone due to varying levels of education:
Instead, using the recycle icons as displayed below can make it very easy for people to understand that the product must be disposed of only in the dustbins so that the local cleanliness authorities can send them for recycling later:
This also helps reduce the problems like littering and pollution as these recycled icons are self-explanatory and purposeful.
The ‘frozen’ icon is also used widely in the packaged food and FMCG industry, and here’s a widely used version of the same:
While this seems to suffice its purpose at face value, it fails to deliver all the needful information. The onlooker cannot identify the ideal storing temperature range, and this may compromise the product’s fitness for use when stored at a non-ideal temperature.
In this case, the below icon can prove to be more purposeful as it provides the ideal storage temperature with storing instructions:
In case the product is to be stored at low temperatures but not to be frozen, the below icon can prove to be highly effective:
In the above examples, the utility was added with the help of additional information both in the form of text and images without consuming an extensive area. This leads to the conclusion that good icon design is always utilitarian in nature.
The global FMCG market is estimated to reach $15,361.8 Billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 5.4%. At the same time, the packaging materials industry is expected to touch $67910 Million by 2026 with a CAGR of 3.3%. An estimated 300 million people are affected by colour blindness, with every 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women suffering the condition.
Thus, with the increasing adoption among consumers, it is necessary for manufacturers of FMCG and packaged food items to ensure that their packaging serves the maximum number of people in terms of utilizable information.
As a strategist at BrandPa with extensive experience in delivering packaging designs for businesses, I strongly recommend evaluating the utility of your icon design against different factors concerning accessibility, as it will help you connect better with your customers.