This guest post was written by Helen Scott, a creative writer at Packlane. Helen Scott is a creative writer at Packlane, the only company that provides a custom design lab, live preview, and instant quote functionality for people who want to design and print their own custom packaging.
You must pin-point the right language that communicates your brand values to potential customers, helps inspire them and drives them to invest in your business or buy your products.
Packaging is the perfect vessel for carrying your brand message to customers who have already come into contact with your business. It also is an increasingly important part of developing a loyal and ever-growing customer base in an age of social media and online reviews. With the growth of print on demand (POD) packaging services like Packlane it’s also becoming easier to create professional-standard packaging that will do justice to the brand you’ve painstakingly built.
But how can you best incorporate your brand message and marketing tactics into packaging? Here we look at five failsafe ways of making sure you get your message across before the customer even unpacks your product.
Ensure Your Packaging is ‘Shareable’
For many modern consumers, the days of traditional retail shopping are long gone. A decade ago we might have bought a product in store, before swinging a branded bag off our arm and sharing the thrill of the purchase with a few friends over lunch. The landscape of shopping has changed dramatically since the boom of e-commerce, and our shopping habits have drastically altered too. Now we can buy something online whenever we like and receive it in the comfort and privacy of our own homes, cutting out the public element of in-store purchasing.
While online shopping in itself might seem to be a private affair for the consumer, savvy e-commerce businesses are beginning to realize that for many customers a purchase is only thrilling when shared with others. Social media is now the most common means to do so. While the customer benefits from the status-boosting power of sharing a purchase with their followers on Instagram, the brand in question unlocks the potential to connect with thousands, if not millions in the case of industry ‘influencers’. And it’s not only the product which becomes the focus of social media promotion—the whole process of unboxing and displaying the contents along with its packaging is an Instagram art in itself, which highlights how important it is to ensure your packaging has ‘shareable’ appeal.
With sites like Instagram and Pinterest putting complete emphasis on the visual, you need to ensure that your packaging meets the standard. Research trending packaging styles on social media. Are there certain colors, fonts or box formats which make for compelling photos? Look at how influencers pose the packaging and products they promote—could you imitate the style of the packaging pictured to help encourage social media sharing?
Adding quirky design touches to your packaging, like multi-purpose functions beyond its life simply as product packaging, add extra shareable qualities. Start to literally think ‘outside the box’—can your mailer transform into an origami shape or a recyclable plant pot? These unusual touches add extra inventiveness to social media shares, and give a fun dimension to shots which would otherwise seem purely promotional.
Make Your Packaging a Visual Treat
Receiving a beautifully packaged item in the mail is not only incentivizing for social media sharers, it also speaks volumes about your brand. It can play a key role in forming a customer’s long-term relationship with your business.
While you may be looking to limit your business’s spending at every turn, design is not the place to cut corners. Professional design reflects professional values, and a design that’s been executed to a high standard will communicate to the customer that your brand is reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable. While you may have initially crafted your brand message in words, you can use packaging to tell your story visually. Typography and color in particular can be imbued with psychological and emotional meaning. A rounded sans serif font might tell customers that your brand is optimistic and playful, while a more traditional serif typeface may instead communicate values of history, trustworthiness and luxury. Even if the nature of your product dictates that it must be packaged inside ‘boring’ shipping boxes you can still use fonts, logos and a minimal splash of color to summarize your brand in visual terms.
Your thoughtful design doesn’t stop at the screen; the print finishes and post-press effects chosen for your packaging can also help to get your brand values across to the customer. Notice how luxury brands also provide luxury packaging: heavy paper stock, laser-cut touches, metallic foiling.These effects communicate a brand promise to the purchaser and create an equally luxurious experience in the unwrapping as it does in using the product. Of course, not all brands need to invest in embossing or foil stamping to communicate their values efficiently, but little touches, like using recyclable card or a matte or gloss paper coating, can transform the tactile as well as visual experience of the packaging.
Give a Little Extra to Your Customers
Packaging is a great way of giving your customers a little something extra at very little cost to your business. Your packaging is in many ways a low-cost advert for your brand, which reaches a customer who is already receptive to your brand (after all, they’ve already bought your product). Take the opportunity to make your customer feel truly valued. Adding extras to your packaging designs, whether its puzzles and games with kids’ products, packing tips for travel products or beauty tutorials for cosmetics, are a low-cost way of connecting with your customer.
If your business budget allows for it, adding in free samples of products is also a fantastic way to generate future sales, and can also be a helpful review tool if you encourage customers to give feedback.
Continue Your Story Inside the Box
While putting in free samples might stretch the purse strings a little far, there are other ways you can continue to communicate with your customer even after they’ve opened your packaging.
Including hand-written notes, your brand story or customer testimonials on the inside of your packaging adds a personal touch and helps communicate more in-depth narratives when your customer is at their most receptive.
Vouchers and coupons tucked inside are also an extra treat, and help to drive further purchases. Discounts on shipping costs or on bulk orders are cost-efficient ways of making your customers feel valued and special. Refer-a-friend deals are also fantastic methods for introducing your brand to a wider pool of people, while benefiting both the original purchaser and the new customer.
Make Shipping Simple
It’s always tempting to choose a low-cost packaging and shipping strategy, especially if your business is in its early days. However, late deliveries or, even worse, damaged goods, will lead to poor online reviews. Choose a shipping company with a stellar reputation to avoid disappointment, and encourage the customer to communicate with you directly if they are less than pleased with their delivery.
You can also help customers plan their shipping, and keep your own fulfillment resources at capacity, by communicating holiday time estimates in advance. Organized shoppers will love the thoughtfulness of this, and you can entice these shoppers with discounts on bulk-buying or shipping.
It’s also important to have a strong strategy in place for dealing with returns and complaints. Provide clear instructions for returning items and prepare your packaging for simple returns by making it easy and cheap to mail back to you. Even if a customer is dissatisfied with a product or the delivery method, they are less likely to leave a damaging review if they feel they are dealt with in a fair and efficient manner. You can even offer coupon codes or free products to unhappy customers after the return, to try to repair the damage. Here your brand language can play an incredibly important role. Phrases like ‘we are always looking to improve and would love to hear your feedback’ invites open and friendly discussion.
Conclusion: Using Packaging as Your Brand Messenger
Sometimes it can feel like a challenge to communicate your brand message through more conventional marketing strategies. Incorporating your story, ethos and values into your packaging is simple to do and instantly rewarding. You’re communicating with an already open and receptive audience who might want to share your products and packaging with others over social media.
If you start to see packaging as a powerful brand messenger that not only provides an immediate thrill for the recipient but leads to increasing promotion and growth, the possibilities are seemingly endless.