"There's something special about opening a box" says creative director Tammy Duncan, who runs Orange You Glad, a graphic design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., offering branding, logo design, and custom illustration services. "Great design, of course, takes a box from being just a container to a branded experience that gets you more business and gets people talking about you."
Traditionally, of course, custom packaging has been about making a product stick out on a shelf full of similar products. You'll buy one box of cookies over all the other boxes of cookies based on an emotional response to its packaging and the message it conveys, so the thinking goes. Online shopping, which consumers now prefer over retail shopping according to a 2016 comScore survey, changed all that, with a big push by Millennials and Gen-Xers, a separate UPS 2016 Online Shopper Report found. Now custom boxes for businesses are the brand ambassador that does much of the work of branding your business after (not before) the purchase has been made.
"Increasingly, your store isn’t brick and mortar. Your store is your box left on a doorstep, so there's a lot of importance to place on that box," says senior package designer Mike Foss, who has worked with Resource/Ammirati in New York and runs GiantHologram design studio.
The unboxing moment has become an internet phenomenon on YouTube, of course, but that online trend is a manifestation of what anyone who’s opened a present on Christmas morning already knows: opening a box can be great fun. And businesses can do a lot to enhance that fun and deliver a custom box “that can make that experience even more exciting,” says Foss.
Unlike other forms of advertising, custom packaging is guaranteed to hit the eyes of your customer (not to mention plenty of people along the way), Foss notes, so “it’s a great space to continue the brand story” and “to convert future sales when they get a package.”
A plain shipping or mailer box might get your goods from point A to point B, but it does nothing to reinforce that the consumer has made a smart choice, connect the consumer with the brand, or encourage a repeat purchase. That’s where branding your business and branding your box comes in.
To translate branding (logo and all other visuals) to package design, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, says Duncan of Orange You Glad. Whether you're working with a designer or coming up with something yourself, you should make sure the packaging design is in line with your brand's style guide, which includes your colors, typefaces, and use cases for your logo.
Then you'll want to translate your style guide to packaging that will enhance the customer experience of your product, so that your customer will want to buy again. The packaging needs to be eye-catching too so that others will notice the box or package and ask what the brand or product is all about.
"Simple is always best," Duncan says, recommending that for maximum punch, your box have no more than two fonts and have a single, simple message being communicated about your product, whether via words or visuals. "Don’t try to make everything the most important thing, because then nothing is important," she cautions.
More than just a box, custom packaging becomes part of the product and the brand, and when social media is involved, it can take on a marketing life of its own. A survey from Dotcom Distribution found that more than half of consumers are likely to make a repeat purchase online based on premium packaging and that 4 in 10 consumers would share an image of its packaging via social if it was unique.
Even if a custom branded box for your business never sits on a shelf in competition with another product, Foss points out that your box may still inspire. With truly great packaging, consumers may display the package on their shelves as a status symbol or repurpose a box to hold other items. "That's something to think about when you're putting packaging together," he says. "Is this something that could be used as a trophy? The sky is the limit as far as how memorable you can make your packaging."
Brand your box using Distinct Packaging's easy-to-use software, or use its Design Assistant service and have a team of in-house designers create the perfect packaging for you.