Choosing 'on brand' packaging material.
Many brands can get wrapped up (excuse the pun) in choosing fancy packaging; opting for gold foiling; adding in elements of unwrapping; the list goes on. How you package your product or goods is hugely important in telling your brand story and it gives the customer an initial idea of quality before they’ve even opened or used the product. The outer shell – as it were – is vital in telling your brand’s story and giving the customer an indication and preconception of the product inside — however this doesn’t always mean you need it at all.
It is important to note here that packaging is not purely for the consumer, the packaging needs to protect the product so it is safely delivered from a -to-b whilst potentially needing to keep it fresh, some products may need air, some the polar opposite, may need to be sealed fully. Keeping your product intact and presentable is the first step in telling your brand’s story. A customer will be more drawn to a brand who’s product isn’t smashed up in the box, compared to the brand’s whose is – regardless of the price point (unless we’re talking a big yellow sticker reduction to compensate for the mess)!
Think about eggs for example; the standard eggs come in cardboard boxes (sometimes plastic which tends to indicate caged hens), cleverly designed so as not to break the eggs when stacked in thousands for deliveries. These are then differentiated in a number of ways; as mentioned above, you can tell purely from the material whether the eggs are caged or not – then you can go further. The standard grey cardboard egg packaging which comes in a variety of sizes with pretty generic packaging on. A step up from this you have the more luxurious eggs, from the hens who can roam a little more freely, these boxes tend to be in a colour from bright yellow, pink, dark orange or blue. You see these on shelf and instantly have a feel for the quality. Then you have the green cardboard to indicate organic. That’s a consumer perspective, making product perceptions based on the colour of the cardboard alone. Move on to Easter eggs and you open up a whole new board of over-packaged goods, designed also not to break the egg but make the product seem much bigger than it is; often you pay according to the size of the box more than the weight or size of the chocolate inside. How often do you buy an easter egg based on the weight?
It is these materials and packaging decisions that tell the brand’s values, give the customer an idea of the product quality and look after the product enough to a) encourage the shops to want to stock it in the first place and b) get it transported from it’s starting point, to the shop and then to be able to make it home with the consumer too.
So how do you know what to choose?
The first and most important part of the packaging is that it protects and is the right material for your brand and product. There is no point in spending thousands on packaging that looks great but means your product arrives broken, and on the other hand there is no point over packaging a product only to increase the cost and price itself out against competitors without excess cardboard packaging (think alcohol which is mostly contained well enough in glass bottles, with boxes being used to sell ‘gifting’). Often the outer packaging can be enough to transport and protect these goods without too much fuss. There is a big trend to reducing packaging (primarily plastic) waste which is something you will want to consider – especially if you are an environmentally-conscious brand or your target market is Gen Z!
Look at the different materials available for your product and see what aligns best to your brand’s core values. We will happily discuss this with you and help you find the best fit. Your product supplier should also be able to help. You need to choose a material that protects your packaging whilst retaining the message and values you wish to portray; if you think to teabags, household teabags tend to come in large numbers bundled into one box which is designed brand specific; more luxury teabags however may come in packs of 10-20 individually wrapped teabags in a smaller box. These are the same product being packaged in two completely different ways to appeal to their target consumers.
When choosing the packaging, you may also wish to see how it is made and where the material itself is sourced. For example if you are a British made company and one of your core values is that all products and manufacturing is done in Britain, you should make sure that all aspects of its packaging are done so too.
It is hugely important, as mentioned above that the packaging does its main function in looking after your product. As well as being able to transport it, it also needs to cater to the storage conditions of your product. Does it allow air in, can it go in the microwave, can it be frozen…etc? An example of this is our Cotswold Pie Co packaging. For this we helped them to choose a label made from polypropylene; a material which is freezer safe, FDA approved and recyclable (more on this below) making it a perfect fit for their brand ethos whilst being functional and allowing the label to retain it’s quality (and therefore the information on it too) after spending time in the freezer. Before choosing your material, make sure you cover all the different conditions of your packaging so you can make sure it will hold up through all of these.
Colours and Style
The colours and style of your packaging will continue to tell the story, the branding and packaging design is something slightly separate but these should be cohesive. The colours of the material itself is crucial in indicating brand values, such as the green cardboard for organic eggs mentioned above.
How do you want the customer to feel when they buy your product – either on their behalf or for someone else. Is it an essential, is it a treat, is it a one-off or a repeat purchase? These questions need to be answered in order to package the good in a way that makes the recipient feel just so. A luxury gift for example would be expected to have a little more packaging. You not only want the gift receiver to feel good, but the purchaser wants to feel good buying it and the presentability of the packaging plays a big part in setting the emotion.
The truth is that most packaging just goes straight in the bin or recycling once it has done its duty, however this is an element which is just as important as the first. As much as part of the decision must ensure your product is kept properly, the ‘throwing away’ of the packaging can speak volumes in leaving the final message. If one of your core values is that you are environmentally friendly and the customer has bought and opened and enjoyed the product but then when it comes to the disposal they realise it can’t be recycled, it may put them off buying the product again.
All of these elements need to be considered in choosing the material for your packaging, and the design will then further portray the brand’s message and values. If the core values are properly considered when creating the packaging, this should allow the values to be seen by consumers and attract people to your brand and product.
Can you help?
We’ve been working with brands to help them choose their packaging materials and design for years and it’s something that we not only enjoy but take seriously in helping create more brand power. We can even help you to outline your brand values. If this is something you want to discuss, get in contact using the link below!