Mastering the “Stop, Hold, Close”

As one of the most important brand–customer touchpoints, a brand’s packaging design needs to stand out from the competition, while also answering how the product solves a customer’s needs. Here at Skidmore, we use the “Stop, Hold, Close” method – a process for getting the most out of that sliver of time a customer spends contemplating which product to buy. From sporting goods to packaged food, we’ve mastered how to capture attention and communicate the right benefits to the right audience at the right time.

In this week’s Branding Bites video, Executive Creative Director Kacha shares the “Stop, Hold, Close” methodology.

Rather read than watch? Check out the transcript below!


KACHA: Good morning everybody, and welcome to Branding Bites. My name is Kacha; I’m the Executive Creative Director here at Skidmore Studio. Today, I’m sitting in front of the studio test shelf for a very specific reason. I want to talk to you guys about something very simple but very crucial. If you’re putting things on shelves in front of consumers or shoppers, it’s the stop, hold, close framework. Stop, hold, close. So, what does that mean?

I don’t know if you know this, but eye-tracking studies have been done. It’s really cool that they show that no product on a grocery-store shelf receives more than six-tenths of a second of attention, as somebody’s scanning trying to figure out what to purchase. Even beyond that, no category receives more than six and a half seconds of attention as I’m looking for what cheese do I want, or what soap or whatever it is. Think about yourself as you’re grocery shopping, nobody spends their time in the grocery store. You have your list, you go to your category, scan, scan, scan, that’s the one I want, and you move on.

So, we’ve got to do something really cool in that six and a half seconds. We’ve got to do something even cooler in that six-tenths of a second when we’re trying to capture someone’s attention. That’s what stop, hold, close is all about. First, stop. How do I stop you and get you to look at it and think, “Wow, that’s interesting, I should pay attention to it”? I want to show you a couple examples of how this works. We just did a project for a client called Inspired Organics. Couple hundred SKUs in grocery stores around the country, and it’s an organics line.

Typically you see – this isn’t ours, this is a competitive organic product – do a little side-by-side comparison. This is typical of an organics product – it’s green, and it’s kind of what we call crunchy kind of organic look and feel. Then we developed this kind of look. You put these side by side, and you’re like, “Hmm, this stops my attention, especially for a new brand that’s coming out to the marketplace. This, I’ve seen 100 times. I’m going to continue to pass by that.” That’s a great stop. And then I can look at it and go, “Oh, hold on. You know, that might be for me. I like these product features. That’s cool.”

Or, consumer packaged goods. Let’s say you have retail products that are going – for example, one of our clients called Xenith. They make football gear. Their products go in Dick’s Sporting Goods. You go to Dick’s, this is what you see. It’s a lot of black, little pops of color, Nike and Adidas logos trying to attract your attention. So, what we did instead was, we said, “Hey, we got to stand out.” We got these great bold cutouts, this really cool pattern. I turn it, I’ve got really simple product communication, but this pops off the shelf. This is a way for me to walk by, and it separates from the rest of the noise of black and pops of colors and Nike’s and Adidas’ logos.

So, here’s the deal. When you’re moving into getting your products onto the shelf and making sure they get the right attention, put yourself in the stop, hold, close framework. Did I stop them and grab their attention in six-tenths of a second? Did I hold their attention once they pulled it off the shelf? Did I finally close them to get them to put it in their shopping cart or in their basket and walk out the door? Or, if you’d like, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you look at it and figure out the best way to do that., hit us up anytime.

Talk to you guys soon.