Packaging is meant to be torn apart and thrown in the trash, but that moment when you rip it open is no less important than what you take out of it. For some brands, it’s fair to say that it’s more important than the product you’re left with in your hands. Here’s everything that needs to be included in good packaging.
Anyone involved in marketing knows that the meaning of this work is to take a particular message and wrap it up in other messages to make it work better. But the more digital the world becomes, the more gets invested in bringing the message to new people (exposure). Sometimes this comes at the expense of the package, the meaning, the reason we are all here. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but we’ve decided that it’s worth spending a few minutes of our valuable time to explain the important of packaging in a few words.
The ultimate excitement in your hand
Packaging is naturally exciting. Besides the element of surprise, it’s the feeling that you’ve received a gift that makes it exciting, even if you bought the thing yourself. It would be a bit odd to ask for giftwrapping on an item you bought for yourself, but if you put all jokes aside, you’ll love it when you get home with your new present. However, these are just the basic characteristics of packaging. In reality, there’s an entire world behind the packaging – a world that every brand needs to be familiar with and take into consideration.
Shopping list: attention, love, effort
As we all know, sometimes (if not most of the time) the product is just an excuse. In the end we’re all buying feelings. The entire significance of a brand is that we are ready to pay no less for the attention, appearance and status symbol than we are for the material itself. Every brand is selling its own unique feeling.
In a clothing store, for example, it doesn’t matter how rushed we are, we are always prepared to stand in long lines watching the salespeople folding the clothing nicely. This is even more true when we purchase something online. The more uniquely the product is folded, decorated with paper, ribbon, paper clippings, hay or whatever, the greater sense of value we get.
There are even brands that make up for a mediocre product with big packaging that attracts attention. For example, the next time you see an ad for a fast-food restaurant, notice how much of the imagery shown is taken up by packaging and how much is dedicated to the product itself, which doesn’t always look very attractive when compared to the alternatives.
But there are a few things beyond a sense of basic value that packaging needs to express and the more precisely it’s done the better it works.
Brand values wrapped in newspaper
From a purely physical point of view, there are three important principles for packaging: looks, feeling and expectation management – what’s the first thing in front of you, how it feels to open the package, what materials it’s made out of and how this all connects to the brand. These are the most basic principles of designing packaging. But great packaging will express even more than that.
We talk a lot in our articles about the importance of in-depth branding – branding that manifests itself in every aspect of the product. Whether your products are designer shoes, fabric jewelry or falafel, the better the packaging expresses the value of the company, the better and more memorable impression you’ll make. Beyond making just one sale, you’ll improve the way your brand is perceived.
Metaphorically, the packaging can be how you package a service. How close do you get to the customers? Are you conducting a conversation through the packaging and greeting the customer or are you placing yourself up high and inviting the customer to join you just by holding your prestigious package?
For example, we had the opportunity to work with a designer brand that sells tutus. The tutus come wrapped in special paper and the words “Handmade packaging. Packed with love.” That’s as elementary as it gets, but still, we can all see the difference between that and any other clothing wrapped in paper in exactly the same way. They’re just words, but the feeling is that someone expended energy on you, did everything possible to give you a positive experience and made you the focal point. After all, what are we all selling? Mostly feelings. By the way, this company even went a step further and included a personal letter from the person who packaged the tutu, thanking customers for their purchase and wishing them well. They were even signed. Now, what are the odds that you’d forget a brand like that?
Who moved my box?
The bottom line is that it’s important to remember that we aren’t only selling products, but also experiences. That’s why the design of the packaging is no less important than the design of the product itself. In some cases, the packaging is even more important than the packaging itself. How will you know? If the packaging for your product is something that your customers will be disappointed to throw away afterwards, you’ll know you’ve done good work.
On the other hand, you need to maintain correlation to who you are: the materials, the graphics, the complexity – it all needs to be adjusted to the identity of your brand. Cool packaging can translate into satisfied customers, but if “cool” isn’t a part of that brand’s values, it won’t strengthen the image you want to impart. In the best circumstances this is a waste, and in the worst circumstances you’re actually doing damage to your image, even if you don’t know it.
Take into account that this is a complex process that requires planning, development, production and a final product, none of which come cheap or easy. But if the packaging and the appearance are good, this strengthens the brand beyond belief. That’s we suggest you stop thinking outside of the box and start thinking about the box.