by Phil Bagdasarian, co-founder of Packwire
Attaining a competitive edge in today’s dog-eat-dog world can be a grueling experience. The e-commerce sector is notoriously competitive, requiring a lot more than a fantastic product. Converting proven tactics and strategies into sales is the first part of the battle. The second is all about delivery… literally! An essential component of achieving success is making sure that a company’s brand and message are properly communicated to customers from the moment their packages are delivered.
Online shopping is taking over, replacing traditional brick and mortar shops. As a result, a product’s packaging has become its own mini storefront, conveying a business’ values and image in a tightly-branded box. Forbes states that e-commerce is poised to become the “largest retail channel in the world by 2021”. Suffice to say that creating the perfect unboxing experience must incorporate a great deal of thought and research.
Developing the right strategy for a product’s packaging can seem overwhelming, but the following design tips are sure to make any box pop!
The last thing a customer should feel when looking at a package is confusion. Simplicity and minimalism are key. The right artwork should be clean and free of clutter, composed of a minimum amount of photography, graphics and copy. In terms of composition, negative space (white space) is an important element because it acts as a guide, organizing the content and allowing the design to “breathe”. Reducing negative space will only make the design feel sloppy and chaotic. It is also important to save the essential information for the front of the box where a bold image or logo can be applied, creating a perfect balance between the fundamental elements. Additional details can be placed on the back or sides of the box. Bottom line: The front of the packaging does all the talking, so the design must be attractive and straight to the point.
To achieve an appealing visual balance, three elements must be considered: Font, color and layout. A general rule of thumb is not to use more than two or three fonts at a time. The right fonts will offer a nice contrast but also create visual harmony. Using fonts that have a similar weight or form will help achieve the ideal balance. When in doubt, it’s best to stick with font families.
Incorporating a company’s brand colors in a design is a great way to establish contrast or unity. Employing different tones of a particular brand color will add a pop of brilliance to a neutral or patterned design. Colors tend to evoke strong emotions and create a lasting impression, so they should be used whenever possible.
Integrating text with images is a juggling act that can be better controlled through proper use of symmetry, asymmetry and radial layouts. In a symmetrical design, the layout is built around a centered line, while asymmetrical layouts support a focal point that is off-center and radial layouts branch off a clearly defined orbit.
A box’s entire space should be taken advantage of. Applying a design to the front cover only will lack in creativity and dynamism, conveying boredom and predictability. The sides of a box can be used to enforce a brand’s identity by wrapping images around the entire packaging, creating movement and enhancing the shape. Again, simplicity is key. Too many designs and the box will look chaotic. Similarly, branded patterns can make a package feel like wrapping paper, eluding that the product inside is of premium quality. Each brand has a story that can be told through packaging, and what better way to do so than by using a box’s full real estate!
Branding should not end at the exterior of a box. The interior can speak volumes, adding that extra pop and sizzle that customers crave. Some of the most successful boxes incorporate an interior that is blazingly different from the exterior. Boldness works well here. The contents of a box should be like a display case: clean and in perfect order. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are a big no-no. Instead, folded corrugated cardboard, colored crinkle paper, foam inserts or inner boxes are the way to go. If the product isn’t too fragile, Kraft or tissue paper will also do the job, adding a great deal of charm to the contents. Inserts and thank-you notes are proven, successful tactics, so adding these to the packaging experience will elevate quality.
Personalized notes of gratitude and targeted inserts that offer tempting discounts are a low-cost way to communicate with customers and offer the kind of warmth and care that large-scale companies cannot provide. Lastly, applying some creative final touches such as ribbons or drawstring bags will polish the entire look and create a dazzling, memorable effect.
A final element to consider when designing a box is second life potential. This will not only add extra value to the product and serve as a business reminder to the client but also enhance the eco-conscious factor greatly valued by today’s online shoppers. Fashioning an attractive, study box will entice a customer to keep it for future use. Other examples of second-life packaging include bubble wrap that can be converted into zip pouches for use as toiletry bags or clutches, and inserts that double as planters. Crossword and Sudoku puzzles, recipes and coloring sections can also be printed on the interior of a box, serving a fun purpose for both children and adults. Other unique upcycling packaging ideas include boxes that convert into cat houses, and printable fashion style guides. Sustainable packaging is a foreseeable hot trend with limitless potential — one that any business can easily tap into!
Phil Bagdasarian practically grew up in the printing and packaging industry, as part of a third generation of industry professionals. Recognizing that many small businesses struggle with high shipping rates and minimum order quantities, Phil identified a gap in the market that he knew he could serve. With his cousin, Marie Valee, he launched the company Packwire, an online printing and packaging service that enables businesses to create their own box design, including branded mailers, folding cartons, shipping boxes and gift boxes.