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A rapidly growing body of empirical research has recently started to emerge highlighting the connotative and/or semiotic meanings that consumers typically associate with specific abstract visual design features, such as colours (either when presented individually or in combination), simple shapes/curvilinearity, and the orientation and relative position of those design elements on product packaging. While certain of our affective responses to such basic visual design features appear almost innate, the majority are likely established via the internalization of the statistical regularities of the food and beverage marketplace (i.e. as a result of associative learning), as in the case of round typeface and sweet-tasting products. Researchers continue to document the wide range of crossmodal correspondences that underpin the links between individual visual packaging design features and specific properties of food and drink products (such as their taste, flavour, or healthfulness), and the ways in which marketers are now capitalizing on such understanding to increase sales. This narrative review highlights the further research that is still needed to establish the connotative or symbolic/semiotic meaning(s) of particular combinations of design features (such as coloured stripes in a specific orientation), as opposed to individual cues in national food markets and also, increasingly, cross-culturally in the case of international brands.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Res Princ Implic

Publication Date





Crossmodal correspondences, Food and beverage, Visual packaging design, Beverages, Communication, Product Packaging, Taste, Taste Perception