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How does a brand become unforgettable? The secret comes down to creating an experience that leaves an imprint. For brands, this means appealing to all the senses to create an exciting, satisfying product interaction for customers from start to finish. Many brands overlook the importance of packaging in the overall process of making an impression. However, packaging is an important tool for brand reinforcement that helps to improve both perceived value and brand loyalty. The truth is that packaging is the “start” in start to finish. Take a look at simple, effective ways to use custom packaging to create a lasting impression.

Let Them Savor the Unveiling

What if the experience of opening your product could be more than just a means to an end? When customers purchase products, anticipation is an important component of the overall consumer experience. Packaging that is a pleasure to peel away helps to build up a positive impression before a customer even catches a first glimpse of a product. An example would be a hand-tied ribbon hugging a box of chocolates. A touch like this leads in nicely to the “unveiling” of what’s inside by setting up an expectation of quality. Additionally, this small attention to detail conveys the subconscious message that the same attention to detail was present during every phase of production.

Use Perfectly Sized Packaging

Nothing creates a perception of “lopsidedness” quite like packaging that is the wrong size for a product. This is one of the fastest ways to chip away at brand confidence among consumers on the subconscious level. The most common branding blunder is packaging that’s too big for the product. This ultimately leads to a feeling of a rushed, thoughtless production process. It also makes the customer very aware of the wastefulness that is being exercised by a brand. For brands, using packaging that is too large is a waste of resources. It’s very important to work with packaging engineers and designers who make it possible to create packaging with very precise dimensions. While this may seem daunting for smaller brands, the reality is that attempting to use a “universal” box for all products can be disastrous from both a budgetary and marketing standpoint.

Invest in Eco-Friendly Packaging

Eco-friendly packaging is one of the best ways to operate by a code of sustainability, reduce your brand’s ecological footprint and earn “brownie points” with customers. The reality is that each form of packaging used by brands and retailers today is responsible for using resources like energy, water, chemicals, petroleum, minerals, wood and fibers. What’s more, the production process to manufacture packaging often generates air emissions that include greenhouse gases, heavy metals and particulates. Fortunately, there are small steps that brands can take to make packaging more sustainable without necessarily diminishing the integrity, convenience or attractiveness of packaging. Here’s a look at some best practices to explore when converting your brand to eco-friendly packaging:

  • Start With a Sustainable Source: Whenever possible, source sustainable raw materials for your product packaging. For example, raw packaging materials can be sourced from places like certified sustainable forests. There is also the option to source packaging materials that carry the Fairtrade label to verify that ethical, fair labor practices were followed during the creation of the materials you’re purchasing. While it’s true that ethically and sustainably sourced raw materials do often cost more, it’s important for brands to do their best to avoid toxic, harmful sourcing practices.
  • Consider Using Recycled Materials: Recycled materials can often help to reduce your environmental footprint for a lower cost than original sustainable materials.
  • Consider Using Recyclable Materials: Going the extra mile to use packaging that can be recycled is another great way to demonstrate your brand’s commitment to sustainability. To make the effort worthwhile, it’s important to create packaging that can be easily dissembled before being placed in recycling receptacles. It’s often necessary to print specific instructions on packaging regarding how to disassemble and dispose of recyclable packaging to ensure that customers are able to follow through.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Packing Materials: Using some creativity, it’s possible to use “clean” packaging practices that utilize the smallest amounts of packaging materials possible. The goal is to try to eliminate as many “extras” that are separate from the main packaging material as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use embossing on packaging instead of adding on separate labels. Additionally, altering packaging to have self-sealing qualities can help to eliminate the need for tapes or adhesives.

Ultimately, all efforts for creating sustainable packaging have to be paired with smart design. This means designing packaging to use the minimum amount of materials possible while also creating secure, stable housing for your product that will shield against damage during storage and transport. When scaling down packaging to be sustainable, it’s also important to examine how your packages will impact fuel usage during shipping. Yes, “clever” packaging that is an unconventional shape can actually be harmful for the environment because it reduces the number of items that can fit into a shipment load. It’s important to explain everything from the shape of your packaging to the packaging materials you’ve chosen to let customers know that these details were intentionally selected to make your product a more sustainable, eco-friendly choice.

Utilize the “Real Estate” of Your Packaging

It’s important to think of packaging as a canvas for conveying your brand’s message! The best way to do this is by using colors for easy brand identification. In addition, packaging “real estate” can serve as a great spot for messaging. For instance, placing the URL for a brand’s website is effective for reminding customers that they can shop for even more items online. The visual reminder of the URL is an effective way to drive direct traffic instead of risking the possibility of customers being wooed by ads from similar companies when they simply “Google” your brand or products. Lastly, a message that reinforces the brand-customer connection can be placed on packaging. This message can be a powerful way to remind customers that the product inside is “just for you” using clever, peppy phrasing. Here are some ideas for personalizing messaging during those crucial impression-making seconds before unboxing:

  • You’re going to love what’s inside!
  • Packed with care just for you!
  • Here’s to your good taste!
  • Savor the thrill of shopping with us!
  • Your beautifully crafted [product] is waiting inside.

While subtle, this tactic is effective for building anticipation. It also creates the feeling of a “personal shopper” whispering into the ear of the customer. The first message that a customer sees can really set the tone for what comes after due to something called the serial-position effect that is known among marketers. The serial-position effect is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to recall things that occur at the beginning and end of an experience better than what happened in the middle. Ultimately, that means that the brief few seconds that a person spends glancing at a message on the outside of a box can actually have a greater impact than the sustained interaction the person has with the product.

Make Them Want to Keep the Box

If you can make packaging so beautiful that a customer just can’t throw it away, you’ve created a powerful brand reminder that will linger in the customer’s home! Many people retain sturdy, unblemished boxes and packaging containers for storage or organization in their homes. Even a small box that houses a sampler of chocolates can turn into a recipe holder or jewelry box for years to come. While not every company needs to invest in packaging that is durable enough to stick around for years, upgrading to premium materials may be worth the cost if the goal is to become a heritage company.

Final Thoughts on Using Custom Packaging to Make a Lasting Impression

Michelangelo once said, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” This is precisely the way brands need to look at packaging when creating perfectly sized, perfectly proportioned designs. The first step to building a lasting impression through custom packaging is deciding on the impression your brand would like to make. For some brands, that means scaling down packaging to let the minimalism used be the statement. For others, packaging is part of a legacy campaign that has a goal of keeping packaging in a customer’s home for as long as possible to foster brand familiarity.