Packaging: your brand personified

Whether the biggest global brand or the smallest artisan producer, packaging is probably the most important item in your sales and marketing toolbox.

Having the greatest and most innovative product in its category is not enough. It must be supported by packaging that matches and enhances the potential of your carefully crafted and expertly manufactured skin cream/hair moisturiser/vegan chocolate/flavoured gin/session IPA/Nosecco/vape juice/CBD gummies/fish food, etc.

To kickstart the consumer journey, packaging is likely the first point of engagement between your brand and your customers. Whether they’re trying a new product or making a repeat purchase, the ‘Moment of Truth’ is a well-documented and understood part of the retail experience, both in-person and online. Packaging’s part in this decision-making process is critical, being both aesthetic and tactile. Packaging goes on to provide an intimate and repetitive engagement lever, helping keep your brand and product top of mind and driving repeat business. From low-end carton board cereal boxes to high-end glass perfume decanters, we each engage daily with products purchased days, if not weeks and months beforehand. Alongside the product itself, packaging is ever-present in a brand’s interactions with consumers.

Such waypoints along your packaging journey illustrate the need to be as creative, dynamic and engaging as possible with your design and execution. From the simplest label applied to a glass jar to direct decoration of the jar itself, the potential to bring your packaging – and your brand’s personality – to life is immense.

All packs great and small

Let’s start with the pack structure itself. Advances in materials and machinery mean even the wildest shapes and streamlined profiles can now be realised and commercialised, and often from previously unsuitable substrates. Paper and microflute corrugate can be used to create lightweight yet strong sliding sleeves, telescopic tubes, dodecahedron boxes and fibre-based bottles, whilst monomaterial plastics can be shaped, stretched and shrunk in various creative ways and rigid formats moulded into complex shapes that set your packaging apart from the rest. 3D modelling and printing allow structures to be tried and tested digitally and physically before being put into production, ensuring structural suitability and usability.

Once you’ve settled on a material/shape combination, an endless array of decoration techniques then present themselves. All are being advanced on an almost day-to-day basis, making them suitable for an ever-increasingly number of application environments and end-uses. Take full-colour variable data printing (VDP), which is now available to more of the market than ever before owing to leaps in digital printing processes. Those for directly printing VDP onto glass and other cylindrical surfaces are a perfect example of this and present a smorgasbord of design potential for designers and brands alike. This can be used to create emotional attachment and enhance exclusivity. Analogue print processes are keeping up with the pace too, if you think of such things as photosensitive (light), thermochromic (temperature) and conductive (electricity) inks, which can be used to produce packs that are essentially functional and/or highly engaging.

Finishing and embellishment techniques bring another level of creativity to the table, and are able to take the blandest, dullest piece of packaging and elevate it to a whole another level, using embossing, foils, metallisation, spot colours, varnishes and die-cutting to create visually appealing and tactile packs. Whether needing to implement Braille or wishing to include lenticular or other visual elements into the design, this presents further opportunity to go wild and take your packaging to the next level.

Beyond the box

Don’t, however, let your creativity conclude with the physical pack. Today, myriad smart and connected packaging tools exist to take your packaging from the physical world into the digital realm. This gives you the best of both worlds and consumers another route to interact with your brand. Whether using QR codes and the like for authentication purposes or augmented reality to gamify engagement, it’s quite literally a whole another world for you and your brand, realised through packaging. No longer are interactions confined to the supermarket shelf or store cupboard, now they can take place everywhere and anywhere there is a connected device present.

For any brand, this is a highly valuable proposition. It gives you the ability to connect with consumers on a personal level and often through a device they have in their hand or pocket most of the day. This gives your brand exposure to those who matter the most – the consumer – on a previously unattainable level. Of course, consumers will expect a payoff for this level of engagement, but if you can deliver on that through discounts, freebies, prizes. etc, you’ll create a priceless emotional attachment and connection with your brand.

There’s also the ability to use the likes of accessible QR codes or a connected packaging platform to make packaging practical. Such tools are used to assist those with a visual impairment or other challenge to engage with the world around them. When deployed on-pack, this makes your product accessible to even more of the market and positions your brand as a socially responsible enterprise with the needs of the wider world at heart.

All these tools and many more already exist today. Tomorrow even more will exist, making it as easy as it is important to make your packaging your own. An event such as London Packaging Week furthers this by providing the perfect playground to learn about and explore these opportunities, as well as to meet with and hear from those designing, developing and introducing cutting-edge packaging concepts into the market.

Make sure you’re there, and raise your profile and presence by putting your own stamp on bottles and boxes, to own your brand’s personality through packaging.

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