Is your Brand a Brown Box or a Thoughtful Gift?

Put a little Spring into your Brand Step.
April 3, 2012
The Pace of Business
April 17, 2012

Content is king, right? That’s what we are told over and over again. While I believe you need to have quality services and products to offer your clients, I don’t believe great content is a panacea for drawing in and converting eager clients. Substantive content is vital to building a valuable and trustworthy brand, however, it isn’t necessarily what is going to grab the attention of your audience.  What you need to go along with your relevant content is enticing packaging.

There, I’ve said it. You can all start throwing your tomatoes now. I know for many people the idea of glorifying packaging is exactly what they dislike about marketing. They feel it devalues the core of the message or product they are creating and selling. As consumers we sometimes worry we are being duped by the packaging, that we are being tricked into buying something that’s all fluff and no nutter.* However, you need to remember 99.99% of us are visual creatures. We make many, many assumptions about a thing or a person based on appearance.

Beautiful packaging enhances the whole experience of interacting with a product or service. In opera the German word “Gesamtkunstwerk” means total work of art. It describes the operatic experience of feasting on both aural and visual stimuli. Simply put, the concept is the marriage of art and drama, content and packaging. Successful branders know the value of Gesamtkunstwerk. They create rich experiences for the consumer with both the product and the packaging. How many times have you relished and saved the pretty bag or box from your favorite store? The packaging doesn’t make the item you purchased last longer or perform better, but the experience of buying that product is greatly enhanced. It’s something you appreciate and to which you look forward.

You can think of packaging as manipulative or you can see it as a helpful tool. Packaging informs the buyer about what to expect from the product. It is the brand promise. It helps the consumer weed through the multitude of choices available to them and helps guide them to the best match for their wants and needs. Therefore, it is important the packaging reflect the desired identity of your brand and the desired experience of your customer. Your customer on the surface may only be buying hand cream, but the experience they are yearning for is renewed youth and beauty. Does your packaging make the customer feel energized? Your clients may be interested in purchasing marketing services from your firm, but ultimately they want to feel comforted and cared for. How does the packaging of your services instill a sense of safety and nurturing?

To be effective it is important to be on-brand with your packaging. To be on-brand you first have to know what your brand is! What is the core message of your brand? What values do you want reflected in your packaging? Who is your audience? What do they value? Look at your current packaging. Does it reflect the essence of your message? Is it thoughtful? Do the colors of your brand image reflect the mood you are trying to convey?

You may feel like all this attention to packaging is over thinking things, but packaging matters. Would you rather date someone who has put some effort into their appearance or someone who shows up to a date in any old thing they have. The person inside the clothes is exactly the same either way, but the message they are conveying about who they are, how they feel about themselves, how they want to express themselves and most importantly, how they feel about you is all expressed in the choices they make with their appearance.

The same goes for your brand. You show your audience how you feel about your own brand identity and how you feel about them as consumers by the packaging you choose. Not everything you do needs to be wrapped up in ribbons and bows, but the more polished and thoughtful your packaging appears, the more appealing it becomes. One of my favorite expressions about auditioning is “They see you before they hear you.” Your audience often experiences your brand first by the image and packaging of your brand. If your image is not enticing you may not attract as many ideal clients as you want, no matter how great your content is.

The good news is you can take control of your desired brand image. All it takes is a little bit of thought about what you want to project. When you get clear about your message you can easily reflect your brand in your packaging and start to dazzle your ideal audience with both the art and drama of your brand.

*For those of you not from New England, fluffernutter is a childhood staple of a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich.