Packaging—More Than Meets the Eye

How your product is delivered makes a difference in how your brand is perceived.

Wendy Ruyle 7.16.2020

How many times have I cursed a brand while trying to get into a plastic clamshell package that is heat sealed on all sides? About a billion, I’d say. When you need a pair of scissors to get into your scissors, you’ve got a problem.

Packaging is often the first interaction we have with a brand, and it sets the tone for how we perceive the brand going forward. What does it look like on the shelf? Does it stand out from competitors but still feel like it belongs in the category? Am I motivated to bring it home and display it? Here are some ways to make packaging enhance your brand reputation.

Make it engaging

The first thing you have to do is engage your customer. What can you do to intrigue your potential buyer? First, make it fit the personality of the product. Is it a luxury shampoo? Make the package something I am proud to have displayed in my bathroom. Is it a game for toddlers? Make sure it will fit in with their playroom décor.

Your product also has to stand out on the shelf (or online or in the mail). To do that, do some research. What is your category lacking that your product can fulfill? If every competitor is sophisticated and stuffy, be the fun alternative. If everyone else is high-tech, be homemade. Standing out can be uncomfortable, but very rewarding to those who stick it out.

Make it easy

Don’t make it hard for your customer to access your product. This means making the packaging accessible for all abilities to open without tools. Plastic clamshells are a go-to because they are relatively cheap and they make theft more difficult. But they are also really hard to open. Avoid them. And if you can’t, include some sort of perforation to make opening easier.

In today’s world of environmental consciousness, you must be careful of overpackaging. Keeping packaging simple makes it easier for consumers to dispose of waste. The less waste, the less time they have to deal with it. Do you really need a box around that bottle? Probably not. Make sure the package you do need is recyclable or reusable.

If your product requires instructions make them easy to read. Use hierarchy of typography to emphasize the important parts and think about pictograms to increase accessibility for non-English speakers if you don’t have room for translations.

Make it an experience

The popularity of subscription boxes and unboxing videos on YouTube demonstrates the importance of the experience your customer has when opening your product. This is a great way to add the element of delight into your brand, particularly a high-end one. What is the feel of the material? How easily does it slide open? How long does it grab your attention?

This may seem counter to what I just said about making it easy, but if every step is a delight, your customer won’t perceive it as a burden. Apple products are notoriously well-packaged. If you count them, there are a lot of steps to get to the product, but each step is revealing a small part of a complicated piece of technology. Slowing you down actually makes it easier to comprehend.

Think about including messaging along the way on the inside of the lid or on a tissue wrap. And unexpected surprises or small gifts inside make for a great experience. Add in a set of stickers or a pin that is a fun add-on to your high-ticket item and it becomes even more special.

And remember, packaging isn’t just for consumer brands. B-to-B brands use packaging too, for proposal kits, client gifts, and tradeshow giveaways. Take note of what the B-to-C world is doing because your clients are consumers too. They have the same expectations of you that they have of what they buy in the store. And your price tag is probably higher.

Take the time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and feel what they are feeling when they interact with your packaging. If you use these techniques you will make a difference in how your brand is perceived.

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