Almost everything you encounter in life tells a story. An inscription inside a book, an old medal in your grandfather’s drawer, even an old movie ticket. These objects all have a story to tell, and packaging is no different. You don’t need to tell your brand’s story through words. Color, shape, size—even the simplest visual cues—can paint a picture worth a thousand words. Here’s how.
Using packaging to weave a tale around your brand can make for an effective marketing tactic, and recent packaging innovations have created a fertile ground for creative packaging solutions. A package is your customer’s welcome mat. Not only does it serve a function, but it is also an integral part of the customer experience. They pick it up, they hold it, they take it home with them—it needs to align with your brand’s values and be distinct and recognizable at the same time.
What is storytelling through packaging?
The way a product is packaged can create a dynamic, engaging story about your brand, drawing upon a multitude of features. These include the design itself, the shape and size and technical features, and the copy used on the packaging. It also extends to how it links with wider marketing campaigns, whether the consumer can recognize and identify with it from your print, TV or digital ads. It even encompasses the materials used to create it: Is it recyclable or reusable? Vintage or contemporary? Each aspect of packaging works together to silently speak volumes about the product.
The cosmetics brand Lush is a shining example of this. One of its core value propositions is a clear commitment to eco-issues, and the packaging (or, in some cases, their lack of it) clearly demonstrates the company's devotion to this. Ninety percent of Lush's packaging material is recycled, and the company's trademark black pots can be brought back to the store in exchange for a free facemask. This packaging gives a tangible form to the brand’s core values.
How do I tell a story through my packaging?
Consider your brand. Are you an ethical, eco-conscious startup or a wholesome, family brand? If you’re the former, you’ll want to create a recyclable package with copy that highlights your green commitments. If you’re the latter, you’ll want to go for an appealing, feel-good look which endears you to your customers.
The packaging you land on needs to reflect your brand visually. Create a mindmap of qualities and values you want your brand associated with to visualize where you need to take your packaging.
What is the value of emotive packaging?
Packaging is a key touchpoint between a brand and customer. It is a chance for the former to reach out to the latter, to have a conversation with them without speaking a word. It’s a platform for brands to foster a more positive relationship with the consumer.
Shopify's shipping guide highlights the value premium packaging has in a business’s growth. The guide underlines the fact that it all comes down to the need to convert a one-time customer into a loyal one through a positive brand experience. It’s the little things that can really pack a punch, and that includes extra special packaging.
As Maria Haggerty rightly says, it is through packaging that brands can generate loyalty from their customers. Brands form an unspoken emotional connection with the customer through creative packaging.. This positive connection compels consumers to speak about the product both on and offline, creating brand awareness through social proof.
Brands That Tell Compelling Stories
Take a look at the shelves in your local grocery store. You’ll see plenty of examples of brands turning packaging from a simple functional wrapper to intriguing works of art, which can amuse, engage—and even be thought-provoking.
In 2011, the food distribution nonprofit City Harvest provided supermarkets in New York City with shopping bags that had a stomach-shaped cutout on them. As shoppers filled their bags, the stomachs also got full too—highlighting the empty stomachs of the one million hungry and homeless in the city. It’s such a simple idea, but has a powerful and lasting effect on the consumer. (See photo)
There is an increasing emphasis on, and consumer demand for, sustainability in retail. More and more brands are also looking to let their customers know how they’re doing their part for the planet, and packaging is the perfect platform for this. The fast food franchise KFC partnered with the UK-based Robin Collective to create the Scoff-ee Cup, a coffee cup that you can literally eat afterward. This amazing innovation tells KFC’s customers that they are an eco-conscious brand, all in a cup. (See photo)
Design, color, font—all these and more can be used to tell your brand’s story without ever uttering a single word. It doesn’t necessarily need to be spectacular or mind-blowing. Even the smallest of changes, such as die-cutting or a simple color change, can have a huge positive impact on how customers perceive your brand. Get creative and go tell your story.