Your product packaging presents an image to the world and helps with your branding. The last thing you want the design to say is that you aren’t very noticeable and you don’t pay attention to detail. While the product itself and your marketing all play a role in your branding, you must also pay attention to the finer details of your business, including how the outside of your product looks.
Think about the way you ship your products as a starting point. UPS and FedEx ship around 34 million packages a day. Each person in the process sees the package and absorbs information about the company that shipped it. When you focus on your product packaging, you do more than just create an experience for your direct customers. You also share something about your brand with others who might not have heard about you before.
Don’t underestimate what packaging says about your business. Here are six things consumers can tell just from looking at how you package your product and some ideas for implementing changes in your own designs.
1. Show What You Do
Think about the core message of what you do as a brand. One example of product packaging done right can be seen in the meal prep industry. Companies such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron use a clear logo on their shipping boxes. The logo might incorporate a leaf to show that natural foods are inside. Think about how your logo or tagline shows what you do and how you can best highlight it on outside packaging. If someone encounters your box during the shipping process, do they know what you do simply by looking at the package?
2. Tap Into a Cause
Has your company made a commitment to reducing your carbon footprint? Perhaps you’ve adopted another cause. Think about how you can promote your cause via your product packaging. If your goal is saving the environment, you’d choose recycled materials and perhaps make sure the box was labeled as recycled. Get creative with your packaging. Perhaps the cup you use to send your food product can be planted, and the seeds buried in the material will sprout into a tree.
3. Personalize Packages
As companies gain more access to detailed data, people expect a customized shopping experience. There are a number of ways you can personalize product packaging. Think about brands such as Coca-Cola that have created bottles with people’s names on them. People actually hunt for their names and get into discussions about where they might find a package with their name on it. You don’t have to get as personal as a specific name, though. If you find most of your customers are sports fans and like a particular team, you can license the team logo and include it in your packaging.
4. Highlight Your Customer Service
Your product packaging says a lot about how well you care for your customers. Would you rather receive an attractive box with tissue paper holding your order or one where things were thrown in haphazardly, and the box was half torn apart? Apps such as Poshmark have created a desire for a boutique type experience. Companies that don’t take the time to create pretty packaging, including the things that go inside the package, fall behind competitors quickly. Make your packaging an experience so customers will want to order from you again and send items as gifts to those they know.
5. Shape Up
The shape of your packaging says a lot about your brand. A unique shape stands out and can show you are a hip, youthful brand. However, you also have to consider how boxes stack in a warehouse and how a product sits on a shelf. An odd shape can create a nightmare for store managers trying to showcase your brand.
Think about where the item will be displayed, how it will store and what it looks like in shipping. There are ways of incorporating unique shapes in the images on a normal box or adding some three-dimensional elements that speak to the consumer.
6. Pop to Attention
The colors you use and the contrast with the background of your packaging makes a big difference in how others see your brand. For products that go on store shelves, pay particular attention to your competitor’s packaging. Take a spec to the local store and hold it up next to the other items on the shelf. Does it stand out and grab the user’s eye? Take along a partner and look at the packaging up close and from a distance. Your goal is to grab user attention but still meet customer expectations.
Even if you sell directly to consumers without the middleman of a retail store, think about how well your color palette works with the packaging you’ve chosen. A brown box might hide some of the detail if you have a lot of browns or yellows in your design. You can either change your brand color palette, which you may not want to do, or change the background color by choosing an off-white box or some other color.
No matter how you design your product packaging, try to stay consistent with your overall brand image. If you use the logo on your website, use it on the outside of your boxes as well. Figure out ways to get your message in front of your customers over and over again so it stays with them, and they share it with others. The more consistent you can become, the more consumers will relate your brand with your message. Consistency applies to packaging as well as all the other ways you reach your target audience.