packaging

By Laura McLoughlin

Your product’s packaging provides a valuable opportunity to send a message to your customers.  Send the right message, and you’ll persuade them that your product is worthwhile.  Send the wrong one, and you’ll do the opposite. In other words, it’s something you’ll want to put a bit of thought into!

If you’re just selling stuff over Etsy or eBay, then packaging might not be something you take seriously until you come to pay for shipping. If up until now you’ve been shipping everything in plain cardboard boxes, then the chances are that you’ll have significant scope for improvement. Even a minor visual flourish can help to cement your brand in the mind of your customer base, and help to secure those all-important repeat orders.

Let’s take a look at four different aspects of a piece of quality packaging, and see if we can see where yours might be falling down.

What Colors are You Using?

Naturally, you don’t want your customer’s first reaction when they open the box to be revulsion.  And it’s certainly possible to do more harm than good by shipping your stuff in an inappropriate package.

When settling on a color scheme, it’s best to take a cohesive approach that encompasses everything your business puts out there.  If your online store is covered in subtle pastel shades, it makes little sense to make your packaging loud and garish.  Once you’ve established the colors you’re going to be using, you can use them across your entire product range.  That way, your customers will have a chance to associate your chosen palette with your brand.

You might vary the theme a little by shipping different categories of product in different colored boxes.  As long as there’s a unifying thread running through the entire catalogue, you’ll be fine.  That duty is performed, for the most part, by your logo.

Is Your Logo Displayed?

All effective packaging will, at least somewhere, include the logo of the company responsible for it.  Ideally, your customer will feel a sense of anticipation as soon as they recognize who the shipment is from, and a feeling of satisfaction after they’ve unpacked it. Without a great logo, this is very difficult.

A logo provides an at-a-glance means of expressing everything your company is and everything it stands for.  It needs to be simple enough to be recognized quickly, and yet distinctive enough to stand apart from every other company in the world. It logo should be visible, but it needn’t dominate the front of your packaging.  As well as the logo itself, we’d recommend using a consistent font across all of your online and offline material, including your packaging, for reasons we’ve already touched upon: consistency is key!

How is Your Packaging Shaped?

Practical considerations may limit how you shape your packaging. While it’s relatively straightforward to pick a color, once you start toying with weird and wonderful nonstandard shapes, you run the risk of escalating your costs.  With that said, if you’re selling premium-quality goods, then an unusually-shaped package might be just the thing to emphasize that the stuff inside is a little bit unusual.  A good example might be jewelry.  If everything you sell comes in an octagonal, trapezoid or heart-shaped box, you’ll convey the message that your stuff is a little bit different from everything else on offer.  Just consider Kinder Surprise; there’s no practical reason that they need to be egg-shaped rather than round, but if they were to suddenly become spherical, a significant part of their brand’s identity would be lost.

How Does Your Packaging Feel?

To open your packaging, your customer will necessarily have to touch it.  And this tactile experience, however brief, is another opportunity to establish that your company is one worth taking seriously.  Certain goods will make a good match for a glossy texture, while others work better with plain cardboard.  Generally speaking, consumer electronics and appliances fit into the former category, while premium food products fit into the latter packaging.

You might think that you’ve got to strike a balance between fanciness and cost.  But, depending on the expectations of your customers, these two factors might not be at odds with one another.  Certain sorts of customer will actually associate cheaper packaging with higher quality goods.  For example, if you’re shipping small-lot coffee beans, plain cardboard packaging will reassure that the maximum possible proportion of the sale price has gone toward sourcing, roasting and other activities that improve the quality of the product inside.

The lower manufacturing costs associated with plain brown paper and cardboard might actually appeal to a customer’s ethics, particularly if the product has an environmental component.  To find out for sure, you’ll need to do a little bit of market research – and this rule applies to every other aspect of your packaging, too.

Laura McLoughlin has previous experience as a website editor and content creator. She now works with Stanley Security and is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Packaging stock photo by Chaosamran_Studio/Shutterstock