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Multi-Layer Neuro-Design Optimization

By Angela Westley & Thom Noble

Multi-layered Neuro-Design Evaluation and Optimization of Packaging

As staple products, sugar and sweeteners are a category with very little emotional consumer-connection. In the UK, Silver Spoon competes as one of the major brand ranges in this category and has a strong grocery store presence and healthy market share. Nonetheless, in an increasingly competitive market, the management team are seeking to boost brand share across Silver Spoon’s portfolio, drive listings as a must-stock brand, build a richer personality and create more excitement in the category.

From a packaging perspective, the aim of the range re-design is to invigorate the pack, induce greater brand preference and loyalty, via increased shelf presence, faster findability, improved messaging and more appealing brand perception.


Silver Spoon already has a reputation as being one of the earliest adopters of neuroscience for communications development, primarily for ad testing.  The client team were interested in expanding this capability into pack testing. The designs themselves were created through leading design agency, Brand Opus, who themselves have a strong track record in the use of neuroscience insights to help guide the design and development process.

NeuroStrata deployed its seven Layer Neuro-Design Optimization FrameworkTMfor the study. Leveraging the key learnings from cognitive neuroscience and harnessing the very latest in applied technology, it consists of an integrated application of seven specific modules. Each ”neuro-strata” reveals responses to the critical questions typically needed to optimize pack design in-store. In effect, these are the levers that can elevate in-market pack performance from good to outstanding.

Each of the online tools used for the different modules is selected as best-in-class from specialists accredited in their respective fields. NeuroStrata works hand-in-hand with these specialists, customizes the study-design and outputs and integrates the modules to deliver the overall solution. It’s important to note that the implicit tests are based on strict true-implicit protocols to ensure that the data is as far as possible isolating non-conscious response.

NeuroStrata Packaging Design FrameworkTM
1. Visual Saliency Application [- inherent ability of the pack to grab attention]
2. Findability Application [-shopper’s speed & accuracy in fi nding the pack in a cluttered array]
3. Eye-tracking Application [-how shoppers navigate and explore the different areas of the pack]
4. Implicit Emotional Attraction [- the inherent implicit emotional appeal of the pack]
5. Implicit Attribute Association [- implicit ability to trigger specific associations]
6. Implicit Intent to Purchase [-the inherent implicit ability of the pack to trigger purchase intent]
7. NeuroStrata Design Optimization [- based on integrated insights, overlaid with NeuroStrata’s neuro-design best practices]

Stages 1 to 3 refer to Visual Mechanics i.e. the ability of the pack to deliver the necessary physical impact at point of purchase. Stages 4 to 6 refer to Perceptual Impressions i.e. the inherent ability to evoke powerful emotional attraction, trigger the intended brand and product associations and then cue purchase intent. Stage 7 is where specific graphic design and creative optimizations are recommended, based on the six individual layers of metrics, their integrated interpretation, and then over-laid with NeuroStrata’s 15 years of experience with neuro-design best practices.

The implicit attribute associations to be tested included Feel Good, Natural, British, Fun, Lively, Unique.

The test was conducted across two new design routes versus the then current control; and across five different sub-categories of sugar and sweeteners including a primary competitor from each sub-category.  N=3617

Silver Spoon Sweetener


The pattern of results across the layers provided a clear indication that the new face design was consistently out-performing both the control (then current) and the alternative new design; it demonstrated a strong benchmarked performance in Visual Mechanics i.e. pop-out, findability and eye-tracking as well as in Perceptual Impressions i.e. non-conscious, emotional attraction, attribute association response and purchase intent metrics.

The goal of boosting personality was achieved with especially strong showings for some of the primary attributes.

The adroit use of the face within the branded logo itself created a new, highly iconic and exceptionally distinctive brand asset. We know from neuro best practices that the brain loves faces; faces are especially effective at grabbing attention and boosting emotional engagement. Here though, the application of different facial expressions across the range also injects altogether more personality and for the first time a real sense of fun into what is otherwise a more restrained category.

Winning design

Neuro-Design Optimization Stage: Nonetheless, the study also provided additional insight on how to further enhance the design. Through direct learning from the data layers and by factoring in neuro-design best practices, recommendations included a number of design aspects that would most likely benefit from creative tweaks.

One example concerns the communication of variant identification and eye-tracking navigation of the pack. Brand Opus’ face design benefits from shrewd use of only a limited number of visual clusters - always a benefit for rapid, effortless visual processing of any pack-at-fixture. However, for fullest pack exploration and impact of implicit messaging, eye movement around the whole pack is critical. Correlating eye-tracking flow patterns and insights from our neuro-best practice reservoir, led to a recommendation to improve the saliency of the variant messaging; Brand Opus deftly achieved this by creating more of a  “visual funnel” flowing from the facial logo down into the brand-descriptor, linking together the two visual clusters.


In adopting NeuroStrata’s layered approach, the Silver Spoon team were able to measure the rich variety of metrics which latest science considers the most important ingredients in driving effectiveness. The different layers allowed us to better understand each specific aspect of effectiveness from saliency to findability and visual processing, through to emotional and non-conscious association and ultimately purchase intent. Such granularity allowed us to pinpoint exactly what was working and why. The experience of the NeuroStrata team helped extract additional insights, especially from the integrated review of the data and their application of neuro best practices. This in turn provided valuable pointers for creative optimization with design agency Brand Opus.

Design Adoptions

Angela Westley, Silver Spoon’s Head of Insight:Angela Westley “This completely fresh approach to pack testing provided a step-change in our understanding of why and how different design routes are likely to work at the fixture. The outputs not only reveal deeper, more meaningful insights, but also allow for much more actionable design optimization recommendations for improving effectiveness.”

The insights highlight how the winning design has created an iconic facial brand logo, which not only grabs attention and emotionally engages the shopper, but also helps strengthen the brand personality. 

Nir Wegrzyn, Brand Opus Founder and CEO: “I’ve long contended that insights from cognitive neuroscience can really make a difference in understanding the effects of pack designs on consumers. These findings backed-up our creative idea and confirmed that the facial route was something special. The face inspired consumers by shifting their point of engagement from product to brand – whilst the neuro- learnings enabled us to enhance it still further.”

The use of the face within the new logo opens up additional opportunities to leverage the new design range; it is ideally suited to promotional / seasonal variations and adaptations, helping project a warmer, fun, friendlier and more accessible personality to further bolster emotional connections and ultimately, brand loyalty.  

Contact Information

Silver Spoon | www.thesilverspooncompany.co.uk | contact: Angela Westley 
NeuroStrata MindScience | www.neurostrata.com | contact: Thom Noble