Four questions you need to ask to get your packaging right

Are you planning the packaging for your products? Here are four questions you need to ask to get your packaging right.

Packaging presents a marketing opportunity that too many companies, small and large, don’t exploit fully. For those of us selling via the internet, it’s only after a purchase that customers get a chance to see the packaging.

So, on the face of it, it might seem more sensible to pour more thought and resources into marketing that’ll help make the conversion in the first place.

Not so fast! It’s much easier to retain existing customers than it is to win over new ones. As such, repeat custom can spell the difference between success or failure for your business – whether you’re selling boutique jewellery or obscure cooking supplies.

And there are few things more likely to dissuade a customer from making another purchase than cheap, amateurish packaging. With that in mind, let’s consider some of the ways in which you can use your packaging to send the right message about your brand and products.

1) What colour should packaging be?

Let’s start with your packaging’s most obvious quality – it’s colour. Your colours should say something about the product itself, and the company that produced it. You’ll want your choice of colours to reflect those on your website and other marketing material – that way you can keep your branding consistent.

Success here largely depends on meeting your customer’s expectations. So, if your research indicates that most of your target demographic associate your industry with reserved pastel shades, then that might just be the way to go.

You might also attempt to thwart those expectations. It might be difficult to persuade customers that bright orange is a sensible colour for cookware to come in, but once you’ve established yourself, you’ll be able to instantly and effortlessly stand apart from the rest of the field.

If you’re going to try to do this, then don’t be half-hearted about it. If you’re embarrassed about your colour scheme, then the impression could well rub off on your would-be customers.

2) What shape should packaging be?

To a large extent, the shape of your packaging will be determined by its contents. If you’re selling posters, then you’ll be shipping them in cardboard tubes. If you’re selling eggs, then you’ll be selling them in egg-boxes.

If you try to make your packaging distinctive at the expense of functionality, then you risk coming across as amateurish. No-one is going to think you’re clever if you decide to ship your eggs in a misshapen box, and, as a consequence, they arrive scrambled.

We’ve also got to think about the economics. Exotic packaging will add considerably to the cost per unit. As such, it’s probably only worth considering if you’re shipping high-value products.

You might also think about how easy your packaging is to slip through a letterbox. Some products, specifically loose ones like coffee beans, chocolate buttons, raisins and spices, will fit quite elegantly into a sealed, flat package. And that’s obviously preferable to an ugly cuboid of the sort that’ll get dumped on the doorstep when you’re not in.

3) How should the packaging feel?

Human beings place a lot of importance on what things look like, but we shouldn’t neglect the other senses. The way that an item feels when it’s picked up and opened will go a long way toward colouring a customer’s perception of it, and if this perception isn’t a good one, it can be difficult to shake – no matter how worthwhile the product inside is!

The texture of your packaging is a great way to set it apart from your competitors, and help to reinforce your brand’s values. For example, let’s say you’re making a big effort to emphasise the ethical advantages of your product – by, say, donating a given portion of proceeds to a worthy environmental cause, or by avoiding animal products in production.

Your right-on credentials will go a long way to securing repeat purchases from customers who care about where their stuff comes from. If your packaging uses obviously-recycled materials – like, say, pulped paper, then you’ll earn prestige, paradoxically, by cutting costs.

4) Where can I put my logo?

If you’re looking to establish your brand (as just about every business should be), then there’s no reason for your logo not to feature prominently on your packaging. That way, every time a customer receives a delivery, they’ll know instantly who it’s from. Moreover, they’ll have the company’s logo embedded that little bit deeper into their subconscious.

Of course, if your logo is overly complex or colourful, it might not translate so well onto certain sorts of packaging material. That being the case, it might be time to rethink the logo, or launch a rebrand.

A logo that doesn’t look distinct when printed onto brown paper or corrugated cardboard probably isn’t a good logo – so be sure to properly test it when it’s printed, not just while it’s on a screen.

Give your packaging the consideration it deserves

Effective packaging isn’t just functional. It’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand, communicate your values, and dazzle your customers with your creativity. If you’ve carefully chosen a coherent set of colours, fonts and logos for your website and other marketing materials, then why not spend a little more time incorporating them into your packaging, too?

By Printed Pack.

Photos by Masaaki Komori, Jon Tyson and Fernanda Rodríguez