Global Design Studio Manager at Essentra Alan Davies discusses the importance of packaging in telling a brand’s story. From the tactile experience down to the opening mechanism of the box, Davies highlights how expressive packaging takes the consumer on a journey of discovery, ensuring that it’s much more than just a means of delivering a product.
The role packaging plays in expressing a brand’s narrative is expanding rapidly, particularly within the luxury market. Consumers are becoming more demanding as they shift their purchasing behaviours to brands that align with their values and specific needs, which in turn places greater requirements on brand packaging. Packaging links together the brand promise and the product it contains; articulating the value proposition through the consumer’s experience.
As packaging is often the first physical interaction a consumer has with a product, the impression it gives matters immensely in building a lasting connection.
As a result, packaging enables brand owners to communicate in a unique and personal way with consumers by stimulating the senses. Brands can use packaging to convey their unique proposition through sight and touch, both of which play different roles in conveying the brand proposition:
Visual appeal – Through the sense of sight, companies need to create packaging with designs that are attractive to the consumer yet also align with their perceptions of the brand and the product it encases. The packaging must reflect the brand’s image, convey the message that the brand wants to communicate and create a “wow” moment which persuades the consumer to buy.
Tactile appeal – The package should allow consumers to literally touch the brand. If the brand is high-end, the packaging should feel luxurious and high quality to reflect this positioning.
Structure, opening and use – Lastly the packaging must match the consumers’ expectations of their experience with the product. The brand must consider every aspect of the customers’ interactions with the product, from the start to the end of their consumer journey. The packaging should be easy to open and be able to provide the user with the opportunity to re-use or re-purpose it.
Sensory engagement as an extension of a brand can be delivered through the use of creative packaging and structural design choices. As a leading global supplier of beauty, food and premium beverage packaging, Essentra is able to apply numerous tools to packaging to allow for expression and engagement, including colour, embossing and debossing, varnishes, foiling, substrate choices, Fresnel lens and structure.
Its new Design Hub provides an end-to-end packaging service, bringing together both manufacturing and creative packaging design. The use of print and patterns, with finishes to create accents and emphasis points, gives the consumer an interesting and engaging product discovery. In addition, varnishes and surface textures can be used to enhance the senses when the customer touches the product, for example, creating the feeling of liquid to indicate hydration.
These tactile effects provide a sensation from the moment of first touch – serving to convey a message about the brand, its prestige and the high-quality product consumers are unveiling.
Ensuring that the total experience aligns with the expectation created by the brand is a key measure of success – particularly when considering repurchase and the exploration of a brand’s broader product and service offering. This is further enhanced when these luxury products are bought as gifts, as the packaging must not only reflect the brand but also the giver.
As is the case in a consumer purchase, the gift packaging will be the first point of contact for the recipient; the packaging must convey the thoughts and emotions behind the gift, displaying the relationship between the giver and receiver. As gifts are often well-considered and meaningful, exchanged between two people that have an existing relationship, the packaging should aim to be more expressive, personal and convey the sentiment. This can be done through individualisation or personalisation such as embossing or printing, for example by adding the recipient’s initials on the box.
Alternatively, gifts can be exchanged between individuals with no pre-existing relationships as a gesture of kindness or tradition. Although these gifts may be a little less personal, the packaging must still express the giver’s emotion and effort they have put into the purchase. This can be conveyed through warmer colours or softer varnishes, such as pearl, satin or soft-touch.
Expressive packaging is becoming increasingly important as brands must convey their individual messaging in the current hyper-competitive market, particularly as consumers are becoming more perceptive. Through creative packaging that engages more than one sense, brands can enhance the customer experience and evoke a more high-end luxury feel. Packaging should aim to invite consumers to interact with the packaging in multiple ways, ensuring consumers perceive it as more than just a means of delivering a product.