BY Joshua Conran @JoshuaConran
Your product packaging is meant to communicate a purpose: what your brand stands for and what it means for your customer.
Every year, 95 percent of new products fail. The reason is simple: Most customers don’t have the time or energy to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the products in their shopping carts, so they use a shortcut to make their decision. That shortcut is your product’s packaging.
Think of Tiffany & Co. For most people, the iconic robin’s-egg blue box is more recognizable than the jewelry itself.
Packaging is powerful because it tells consumers why your product and brand are different. Apple is known for its clean, minimalist packaging. If you’ve ever watched an unboxing video for a new iPhone, you know people love Apple’s packaging.
Plenty of savvy startups are mastering the unboxing experience as well. Pad & Quill, a company that sells artisan iPhone and iPad cases, wraps its products in brown paper with friendly messages printed on the inside and a Roman seal for a distinctly hand-wrapped feel.
Great packaging is especially significant for growing startups because it can have a direct impact on sales and a company’s overall appeal. Take Trunk Club, for example. This company hand-selects clothing for men and sends its stylist-curated outfits in cardboard “trunks” that fit the convenience and style of its service. After five years in business, Trunk Club garnered Nordstrom’s attention, and the high-end department store bought the startup for $350 million.
Packaging can continue to influence a company’s sales as it grows larger, too. MillerCoors’ sales slumped last year, but the Miller Lite retro can bumped sales by nearly 5 percent. MillerCoors didn’t change its beer; it just changed the can it came in.
Poor packaging can have an even more dramatic effect. Australia recently instituted a plain packaging law for cigarettes. The government’s removal of packaging branding rights aimed to discourage young people from smoking. Not only can Marlboro not use its logo, but it also can’t use its typeface. The packages, covered with health warnings and graphic images that deter smoking, resulted in the biggest smoking decline Australia has seen in 20 years.
How to Design Packaging That Makes an Impact
All startups want to achieve the instantly recognizable status of Apple and Tiffany & Co., and that type of brand power starts with a product’s packaging. How can you make your packaging stand out from the competition?
- Know your demographic. Stark white and robin’s-egg blue won’t work for every brand. Consider Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot. Their rugged brands speak for themselves with distinctive, masculine colors. Don’t be afraid to go bold.
- Make cheap packaging look chic and personalized. Good packaging doesn’t have to be expensive. Stephanieverafter, an online hair accessory boutique, packages its bows on simple cards in muted colors with stylish typography. It’s an inexpensive solution that gives each item a high-end feel.
- Make the package part of the experience. Part of the reason it’s so fun to unbox a new Apple product is that its packaging reflects the sleek, user-friendly experience of the product inside. One startup that’s mastered this is Back to the Roots, which produces kits to get kids and parents interested in growing their own food. Its mushroom kit’s kid-friendly packaging is designed to jump off the shelf and convey the fun, hands-on experience the brand provides.
- Consider eco-friendly options. Packaging that’s recyclable or reusable is always a reason for a consumer to choose your brand over your competitor’s. In fact, 52 percent of people around the world make purchase decisions partially due to packaging that shows a brand making a positive social and environmental impact.Puma has made great strides with its eco-friendly packaging that doubles as a reusable walking billboard for its brand. There are plenty of creative ways to go easy on the earth and differentiate your brand in the process.
Remember, your product’s packaging is meant to communicate a purpose: what your brand stands for and what it means for your customer. Don’t miss this opportunity to create a lasting impression on the shelf and in the minds of your customers.