Branding Agency blog: What is volumetric design and why does it matter?
Branding Agency blog: What is volumetric design and why does it matter?


What is Volumetric Design and Why does it Matter?

Shapes communicate things, things that we perceive consciously or unconsciously. Whereby volumetric design is a fundamental element of a brand’s equity, and often the most lasting one.

Words by Little Buddha

Ceramics made by Design & Beyond

Volumetric design is, in general terms, the design of the objects’ form. The form of the objects, which we sometimes overlook, communicates more with our subconscious mind than other factors. The design of a tag or a communication campaign acquires less relevance if the brand or the product has a striking volumetric design, notorious… unique.

What difference is there between an Audi, a Volkswagen and a Skoda? In many cases the design of a car’s volumetric, its exterior form, its line, its drawing and its brand, all of this projects a more or less prestigious image… but we are all aware that the Audi A4, the VW Passat and the Skoda Superb share the same structure, the same engine and a lot of important pieces.

That’s why a car’s volumetric design (and the image the brand projects) is important for our decision. From a rational point of view, it is clear that we are buying the same car with very different prices.

In other words: volumetric design matters! In this post we will detail the importance of a certain type of volumetric design: the one for packaging. Let’s see some examples:

Branding Agency blog: What is volumetric design and why does it matter?

Would we be able to recognise a Coca Cola bottle and an Orangina bottle?

Could Orangina fill its iconic bottle with a cola drink? No, because the orange shaped bottle “doesn’t accept” another liquid that isn’t at least a citric fruit juice.

Sunny Delight, from the American Multinational P&G’s brand launched their orange drink in the UK. They did it with a plastic bottle which is the reference format for recently squeezed orange juice in the UK. P&G proposed something that resembled a juice, was highly appreciated by children and was less expensive than a juice… This product was seen as an alternative for recently squeezed juice and rapidly Sunny Delight’s sales overtook those of Coca Cola!

Big part of Sunny Delight’s success in the UK was due to the volumetric design of its bottle. It leveraged itself in the consumer’s insight onto natural fruit juices codes.

Do we know how to recognise a Yakult bottle and an Actimel bottle?

Both of them communicate a daily dose of health but each has a different way of doing it. These bottles really contain a very similar product and the benefit is comparable. But each one of them has an ownable bottle. This enables consumers to recognise the brand and to perceive the lactic ferments contained in the product as exclusive.


A daily life example: clothes detergent bottles

When Henkel came to us because of the low rotations of its bleach Neutrex Suave. We identified the first obstacle to sales as the fact of packing this bleach, used to whiten delicate garments, in the same bottle as Estrella (a powerful bleach used to clean and disinfect the floor), instead of using the bottle of the rest of the Neutrex range.

The examples are numerous.

With these examples we arrived to the conclusion that shapes communicate things, things that we perceive consciously or unconsciously. Whereby volumetric design is a fundamental element of a brand’s equity, and often the most lasting one. Branding can evolve, product benefit can change and the graphic design adapts itself, but the mould stays the same, the essence lasts.

Breaking the codes: Chocolat Factory

There are also interesting examples of brands who break the codes. They’re looking to differentiate themselves from the competition or are motivated by pragmatic reasons:

Michel Laline, a Belgian architect, launched Chocolat Factory in Spain. He didn’t want to directly attack other chocolate leader brands such as Lindt, Nestlé, Mars or Cadbury… And we understand that he didn’t have the means at this moment to create a mould or a special format to transmit the values of craftsmanship and premiumness that they wanted to transmit.

And, as we understand it, they had a brilliant idea. Using existing packages, volumetric designs which, associated with a minimalistic design, allow it to stand out against other chocolate brands. A “bottom up marketing” strategy and a tremendous way to convert a problem into an opportunity.

Others like Moschino have packaged a perfume in glass cleaner packages. Looking for an anti-conformist consumer profile who is looking for a luxury product without have to obey any luxury codes… Volumetric design in perfumes would require many other posts for itself, as it’s fundamental for this category.


10 questions to evaluate if you have the adequate volumetric design:

1. Does my package’s/product’s volumetric correspond with the category I want to be in? Does it respect the codes of this category/does it identifies as an alternative for this type of product?

2. Does the “disruptive” use of a package of another category enables communicating values which are interesting for my product? Does it enable me to stand out in a functional way? (does using other codes give me positive values?)

3. In my category, does my volumetric transmit the values that correspond with my positioning? (traditional/modern/technological/km0)

4. Is my volumetric coherent with the rest of the mix’s elements?


5. Does my volumetric enable me to optimise the costs for my logistics?

6. Is my volumetric attractive for my core target?

7. Does my packaging’s volumetric has a good ergonomics? In other words, is it pleasant to the touch, can you hold it firmly without it being uncomfortable to use?

8. Is my volumetric consistent with the actual and future security standards in relation to the conservation of the product it contains?

9. Is my volumetric sustainable in terms of quantity and material typology, according to the environmental standards that will come into order in the EU briefly?

10. Does my product’s volumetric design have potential (not only the package)? Toblerone or Lindor chocolate for example, have a volumetric design which positions them and differentiates them from their competitors.

If you have any doubts, you can contact us!