Your packaging is not just the container that holds your product — it’s the container that holds the entirety of your brand identity. Look no further than Apple, a brand that understands the connection between consumer and packaging. Apple’s packaging is so unique that Apple enthusiasts tend to hold onto the boxes as a memento or collector’s item.
But the reason Apple succeeds in the packaging department isn’t just because of the style or simplicity of the boxes themselves — it’s the way the boxes represent the brand’s philosophy as a whole.
If you want consumers to understand your brand’s identity, then the packaging is a good place to start. But there’s more to packaging than just the box.
Obviously, the first place to start when creating a packaging identity is the package for your actual product. There are several things that consumers look for in unique product packaging designs:
- Clear communication and accurate representation of the product inside
- Aesthetic design factors like shape, size, texture, color, and material
- Creative and innovative ideas that stand out in a crowd
- Functionality and ease of use
However, each product presents a unique set of challenges. A high-end product, for instance, requires packaging that communicates that value to the consumer — a design that might not work with another product. The dramatic, elegant packaging design for luxurious cologne wouldn’t be a good fit for an inexpensive shampoo.
Certain products benefit from a degree of interactivity with the consumer, so their packages are designed to let the consumers see, touch, smell, or listen to the product. For example, the packaging for a child’s doll might include an opening that allows the recipient to press a button inside that makes the doll talk.
Some companies sell products that logistically cannot be packaged, or provide a service instead of a product. However, all brands (regardless of what the company sells) can be “packaged” through the use of custom marketing materials, and those materials often require packaging themselves.
Take real estate agents, for example — they provide a service for their clients and sell a product that can’t be put in a box. But they do present their clients with valuable written information, often inside an attractive presentation folder.
Regardless of what you sell, the way you present your brand in your marketing collateral and its packaging informs the consumer and gives them a taste of your brand philosophy. Consumers also tend to hang onto materials that catch their eye. The same way Apple fans hold onto their boxes, your audience is likely to hold on to a press kit or portfolio with an inspired design.
If you ship your product in plain boxes or ordinary envelopes, you’re missing out on another opportunity to highlight your brand’s identity.
Think of it this way: when you give a gift to someone else, it becomes more of a special event if you wrap the present in gift wrap, even if the item already comes in a package. Your shipping materials are like gift-wrap for your product, helping to turn the unwrapping of the product into something special.
Even if you don’t sell a product that can be shipped in a box, you can still turn your shipping materials into branded packaging. For example, if you’re shipping an information packet to a customer, use a custom-printed portfolio sleeve instead of a plain shipping envelope.
The age-old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” still applies even if your packaging design is phenomenal. The reason Apple fans save their boxes isn’t the merit of the box design alone — it’s because it represents a product and company they believe in. Your brand has to meet the same requirements for your packaging to work.
Vladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of Company Folders (companyfolders.com) based in Keego Harbor.