If brand owners are serious about finding packaging solutions that support their brand’s image, they first need to understand the life cycle of the packaging as well as the key functions the package must fulfill during that life cycle. Packages must perform well in all aspects of manufacturing, filling, transportation, shelf existence and user experience while successfully promoting the consumer connection with the brand to create differentiation.

While this process sounds daunting, it can be distilled down to the four pillars of excellence that brand owners need to understand and implement in order to succeed:

  1. Champion Simplicity

In a world that is becoming more complex by the day, consumers are being drawn to packages that convey simplicity in its branding. Complicated packaging structures and over-the-top graphics are giving way to brands that promote their products with simple, minimalist packages and clear, concise messages. Effective use of solid color — or even white space — with a few carefully chosen words or graphics describing the package contents provides a “less is more” appeal for consumers who are more conscious of their footprint in the environment.

  1. Create Measurable and Acceptable Performance Indicators

In all manufacturing arenas, consistency is the key to establishing a successful brand. The best way to establish consistency is to identify top performance indicators that can be measured and achieved during the manufacturing of the product or package. Implementing quality checks, such as target print densities, target open force measurements and fiber-tear measurements on glue lines, ensure that packages will perform as expected over the life cycle of their operation.

  1. Connect with the Brand

Brands have historically marketed products to consumers through very controlled and highly orchestrated marketing campaigns. Today, however, the consumer drives the most successful marketing initiatives through such social media channels as Facebook and YouTube. Brand owners must identify with how they want the brand to be portrayed on social media and focus on the types of issues they want to promote in order to connect with target consumers. From there, consistency in the chosen message across all forms of social media is paramount to develop integrity for the brand, and to firmly establish a platform that the consumer will inevitably begin promoting on the company’s behalf. More than ever, the logo on the box must be aligned with a cause. Brands can now consider going a step further by addressing consumer desire for innovation and sustainability by printing the origin message of sustainably sourced materials right on the package.

  1. Create a Convenient, Delightful User Experience

As new and optimized materials become available to the packaging industry, brands should incorporate these improvements into their packaging portfolio. New innovations in folding boxboard provide significant lightweighting capability without sacrificing structural integrity of the package while providing exceptional print surfaces. In conjunction with these continued advancements, brands should be optimizing points on the packaging that directly interact with the consumer, such as opening perforations, zip strips and other operational mechanisms to ensure customers are delighted with the overall functionality of the package.

Packaging optimization is a fluid, ever-evolving process of identifying ways to enhance the package. Improving the end users’ experience can include making the package easier to recycle, designing effective closing mechanisms for multi-use packs, creating new ways to display products in the packaging, developing packaging that can be reusable, and creating package designs that add a level of convenience when using or storing a product.

The role packaging plays in defining brands today is paramount. The package not only provides protection for the brand’s product throughout the supply chain, but it is a statement defining the brand’s commitment to sustainability, its care and concern for the consumers’ experience in using the product and its concern for the environment once the package’s life cycle has come to an end. Packages must deliver all of these messages innovatively and efficiently, reflecting the mission the brand wants to convey to its consumers and the world.