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Packaging: The design medium you forgot existed

Packaging as the design medium you forgot existed.

Think back. Way back.

Think back to the time you were a kid unwrapping gifts under the Christmas tree.

That sheer excitement and anticipation – you saw the presents there with your name, you had no idea what you were getting, but you were so darn excited to find out.

Believe it or not, that’s the same feeling you get when you see the humble Amazon box on your doorstep.

While you may have got a little older, and you know what you’re getting, that Amazon box evokes similar emotions.

And it all begins when you recognise a famous logo – the Amazon logo.

Branded packaging is the gateway to inducing that emotion in your customers. And in this article, you’ll see the role that custom packaging plays in building that emotion, as well as all the other branding options that a blank packaging canvas opens up for your brand.

The competitive advantage

Buyers form an opinion of a brand in less than a second after seeing it.

But in the world of ecommerce (where sales are only increasing thanks to COVID), the first impression isn’t when the customer lands on your website.

For ecommerce brands, the first impression comes at the first physical touchpoint between your product and the customer.

And that’s when they first get their order delivered in the mail.

So it’s easy to see the role that a well-branded mailer box plays in making that initial impression.

However, don’t forget that your branding is much more than just a logo and a few colours. Your branding is the way you present yourself to the word.

Branding is shown off in the form of your logo and your colour palette, yes, but it’s also echoed in little things like the words you use, your unique selling points and your attitude toward returns and refunds.

Using your packaging to remind your customer that buying from you was the right decision gives you a competitive advantage over competitors, by evoking emotion at the right time in the right place.

Online vs retail

The recent COVID-19 epidemic has changed our buying habits through sheer necessity. Fewer people are going into a retail store to buy and browse.

Not only does this change the role that your ecommerce store plays, but it also changes the role that your packaging plays.

A well-designed box now has to play the part of an elegant retail store fit-out.

While your retail packaging can still be used, secondary packaging in the form of mailer boxes is essential.

A thin cardboard box is ok to be thrown in a retail bag and carried around a mall by your customer. However, the same box is not adequate for being thrown in the back of a delivery van and hauled across the continent.

On that note, it’s also important to consider that packaging isn’t always a simple box.

Beyond the box

Cardboard tubes, mailing bags, tissue paper, envelopes – as a designer, you may be pleased to know that there’s more to custom packaging than a simple box.

Take, for example, a fashion brand.

Most textiles are durable, soft and can handle being thrown into the back of a van. Therefore a heavy corrugated cardboard box may be a little overkill.

A custom mailing bag protects its content from dirt, dust and water, but it’s also lightweight and helps lower shipping costs – and completely customisable.

So rather than opting for a heavy-duty box, a mailing bag would be the most cost-effective packaging solution.

personalised mailing bag

To enhance the branding and the unboxing experience, custom tissue paper and branded tape are great extras.

It might not seem like might, but it’s the little details like custom tape, no empty space inside the box and a little extra care that stand out to your customer!

Unboxing experience

Arguably, the best part of custom packaging is the unboxing experience and the potential for unboxing videos to be made from said products.

In fact, unboxing videos are some of the most popular videos on YouTube – It’s estimated that influencer Unbox Therapy earns over USD4.4m per year.

And the unboxing video helps capture that ‘Christmas day’ excitement of experiencing something new for the first time.

So with unboxing videos playing such a critical role in brand awareness and marketing, it’s easy to see why throwing your product in a plain box with a sticker isn’t the best option.

Consider printing a welcome message on the inside of your box. Bringing your branding inside the box adds that sense of elegance.

As you read earlier, tissue paper and tape can help brand the unboxing experience, but it’s the design of the box that truly shines.

It’s at this moment where you can remind your customer why they brought from you.


‘You’re holding an organic sweater made from ethically farmed wool.’

‘Limited edition: Number 27 of 142.’

‘Timepieces that tell a story’.

 

 

Slogans, branding and catchphrases like this, delivered at the moment your customer sees their product for the first time builds trust between you and your customer.

It reaffirms their decision that buying with you want the right idea.

It’s important to remember that an unboxing experience is essential, but there’s more to it than throwing in discounts.

Discounts are a great way to incentivise someone to buy again and foster customer loyalty, but they’re also a great way to eat into your brand’s cashflow.

Consider other ways to add value and make your customer think ‘I really got a lot more than I thought I would’.

Now it’s your turn

Packaging loves design.

And well-designed packaging makes marketing efforts more effective and helps a brand’s name stay in the mind of a customer, for longer. It adds value and exceeds a customer’s expectations.

Effective packaging design means taking branding and applying it to a medium that’s often forgotten. Luckily, a blank canvas – or, box – is a medium that’s great for taking creativity and using it to stand out from the competition.

If you’d like to get started with custom packaging, head over to Packhelp and take a look at the side range of custom packaging solutions on offer.

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Phil Forbes

Written by Phil Forbes

Phil is a bearded Australian living in Warsaw, Poland. When he’s not talking about Packhelp’s sexy boxes, he’s trying not to kill his plants or writing about Polish history and culture on expatspoland

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