Because e-commerce and remote experiences have become an integral element of today’s market, never mind why, it’s important to focus on your presentation. That is, how your brand is perceived by customers off-site, or within their homes.
When you ship a product to a customer, one of the first things they encounter is your brand packaging. If you ship the goods in a plain or non discreet box, not only will they notice, they’ll probably be underwhelmed. There’s a reason why you see that happy Amazon smile on every one of their boxes, parcels, or envelopes. Yet another layer down is the outer wrapping of a product, and it also matters how distinctive that is.
These days, the packaging is just as important for your branding and marketing efforts as any other strategy you might apply. How can you use this to your advantage? What are some ways that you can leverage your B2C packaging to boost your branding efforts?
To stand out from the crowd you must be unique. That’s why product packaging should be creative, engaging, and most importantly, brand-defining. A box is a box, but a cool and creative box is truly something special.
Thelma’s Treats, a Des Moines Iowa cookie maker, packages its delicious and fresh cookies inside a to-go oven. Granted, the oven is made of cardboard, but when it arrives on your doorstep, and you slide the tray of cookies out, it’s just like pulling them out of — you guessed it — your oven!
You don’t have to be quite so elaborate, but the takeaway should be that you need to create a unique and captivating experience for your customers. These kinds of experiences are always memorable, and they’re certainly buzzworthy.
There are entire communities dedicated to unboxing appealing products during video recording or a live stream. Influencers and audiences alike love when product packaging is top-notch.
Content creators often start by capturing footage of the unopened packaging. Soon after, they will begin opening up the package, whether it’s a box, parcel, or something more elaborate while commenting on the setup, what they find inside, and the initial presentation of the products.
It’s a communal experience, which involves the audience, as much as the creator. Everyone gets the opportunity to experience the event, whether they have the product in their hands or not. All of this generates buzz, and the content is shared across the internet from social media to messaging boards.
You can encourage your customers to hold unboxing events, not just by saying that outright but also by providing a tailored experience — this ties into the strategy above about getting creative. When designing your packaging, think about how people will be interacting with it. What will it look like on those live streams? Will people enjoy it and want to get in on the action?
Product packaging, for the most part, exists to protect the goods contained within. That is a critical element of a successful package design, but it’s also important to ensure usability. Can your customers remove the packaging easily or is it frustrating?
It’s important to strike a good balance between protection and usability. We see this a lot with tamper-proof solutions. The design is more complex to prevent tampering or to improve safety — like pill bottles meant to keep children out — but that can lead to more frustration. Even so, tamper-free designs are necessary for select goods, so it becomes about deploying them in a smart, efficient way.
The same balance must be honored with your product and brand packaging. It can be difficult to achieve with certain materials, like hard plastic, but a solid workaround is to create a viable entry point, like pull tabs, perforated edges, and beyond. These helpful additions make it easier to breach the package, without compromising integrity. Smart designs can also help, where the packaging is lovingly crafted, from the onset, to provide a pleasant unwrapping experience.
It reflects on your brand, like it or not, so when it’s difficult to open packaging or the entire experience becomes a hassle, it leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.
Although it’s something that has applied for dozens, if not hundreds, of years in retail, the presentation of your product packaging and how it looks on store shelves still matters.
You may wonder how shelf appeal differs from doorstep appeal, and the distinction is quite easy to quantify. When a package lands on a customer’s doorstep, they’ve already invested. But for a package sitting on store shelves, you’re targeting people that haven’t yet purchased your product.
It means that you need to catch their eye, more so than the competition, and the packaging needs to provide a good representation of your brand, at a glance. That’s no small feat.
Above all, any packaging you create needs to be universal. It must have appeal in-stores and online. Here are some ways to make that happen:
Over 80% of consumers from North America, Asia, and Europe believe it’s “important” or “extremely important” for companies to develop eco-friendly products. Moreover, 77% of respondents say that plastic is the least environmentally responsible packaging material.
What does this tell you? People want to do business with environmentally-conscious companies, and they value the ideals behind sustainable operations.
Applying this to your brand packaging means going eco-friendly for the materials and design. You’ll likely find that people love eco-friendly packaging, especially when it’s not overtly harmful — such as those plastic soda rings that wreak havoc on ocean creatures.
Slapping a QR code on your packaging can generate a lot of buzz and fun for customers. Even better, they can be used to create augmented reality experiences, or alternate reality games (ARGs). It’s also a neat little way to incorporate technology into your packaging, without actually embedding electronics or devices.
Most QR codes are designed to open a website or app store page after being scanned, but they can be used for much more than that. They can show nutrition information, product sourcing, deliver messages, or share marketing details and promos. They’re also extremely accessible because most smartphones include QR support built-in.
So, there you have it! Those are some excellent ideas for reimagining and boosting the perception of your company through product packaging.
Be creative and unique. Consider the usability of the packaging and how easy it is for customers to open or engage with. Prioritize the presentation for both in-store and online experiences. And finally, think of the ways you can use customer sentiment to boost your brand, through events like live unboxings, incorporating eco-friendly materials, or leveraging modern technologies.
There are truly some amazing opportunities if you know how to unwrap them!
Eleanor Hecks is the editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.