9 Packaging Strategies To Step Up Your Brand & Marketing

From boosting brand loyalty, reinforcing brand identity, and differentiating your brand, packaging is a powerful brand enhancer. Here are nine packaging strategies to grow your brand.

Jonny Parker
October 24, 2023

Imagine this:

You’re walking down a supermarket aisle, scanning the shelves, trying to decide what toothbrush to buy. With so many different brands, finding the perfect one can feel like a huge task. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, one brand captures your attention. 

What made you stop to take a closer look? Odds are, it was the product packaging. 

But packaging is so much more than an attention-grabber. It’s a silent sales tool that 72% of Americans agree influences purchase decisions and a powerful brand enhancer that can boost brand awareness, reinforce brand identity, and build brand loyalty.

In this blog post, you’ll learn more about why packaging is vital for your brand, what packaging strategies you can implement to enhance it, and how to support packaging with proper inventory management to set your brand apart.

So, why exactly is packaging important for your brand?

Beyond grabbing attention and protecting a package’s contents, packaging offers many other benefits for your brand: 

  1. Boosts brand awareness. Brand awareness refers to how familiar customers are with a brand. You can boost this familiarity by using distinctive and consistent packaging elements like color and typography. For example, the red can with the cursive logo is instantly recognizable and associated with Coca-Cola. 
  2. Reinforces brand identity. Packaging elements like color, typography, and logos can capture a brand’s personality and values. For example, Tiffany & Co. strengthen their identity as a premium luxury jeweler by packaging products in a blue box with a white ribbon, which symbolizes quality and elegance. 
  3. Creates the initial first impression. Packaging is a visual representation of a brand and, if well-designed, can create positive first impressions among customers. For example, Apple makes good first impressions through minimalistic packaging, using high-quality materials, and an unboxing experience that’s like unwrapping a gift. 
  4. Differentiates products from the competition. Packaging is crucial to any branding strategy because it helps products stand out and communicates what makes brands unique and why customers should choose them. For example, Red Bull sets itself apart with a tall, slim can shape, bold contrasting colors, and images of extreme sports on its packaging. 
  5. Builds brand loyalty. Packaging helps build loyalty through various mechanisms, including:
    1. Brand awareness. The more customers are exposed to the same packaging, the more they trust the brand and become loyal. 
    2. Emotional connections. Packaging that resonates with a customer’s values or preferences can create deep emotional connections. 
  6. Generates excitement and boosts sales. All the above benefits can contribute to more sales for brands. Packaging strategies like limited edition releases or seasonal designs can also play a pivotal role. For example, Starbucks releases a yearly holiday cup collection to drive sales. 

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What packaging strategies can you use to boost your brand?

There are plenty, so deciding which ones are suitable can feel overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be as long as you keep your audience, brand identity, and marketing goals in mind.

Here are nine packaging strategies that, when effectively applied, will engage customers, build brand loyalty, and, ultimately, enhance your brand.

1. Use sustainable materials

Why it’s effective: Customers’ rising awareness of the importance of sustainable packaging is a key factor driving growth in the sustainable packaging industry. According to Market Research Future, the industry is expected to grow from $371.4 billion in 2022 to $737.6 billion by 2030. 

By creating eco-friendly packaging, you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, ensuring you align with your customers’ values while establishing and reinforcing your brand identity.

Example: Patagonia reinforces its image as a sustainable and socially responsible outdoor gear and clothing company by using eco-friendly packaging materials. It also includes messaging about its “Worn Wear” initiative and environmental and social causes.

2. Share your brand story to communicate values 

Why it’s effective: A brand story conveys the brand values, history, and mission. It involves going beyond explaining what companies do to focusing on why they do it. Effectively sharing your brand story allows you to connect emotionally with customers.

Example: TOMS, a footwear company, is in the business of improving lives. At the heart of their brand is their “One for One” mission, which they share on their packaging: For every pair of shoes they sell, they give one way to a child in need.

3. Create unique packaging

Why it’s effective: Unique designs are memorable and help you stand out from the competition, especially in a crowded market.

Examples: Unlike traditional chip bags, Pringles packages its potato chips in a cylindrical tube. This has become an iconic part of the brand and is instantly recognizable on the shelves. Coca-Cola, in turn, set itself apart from other brands with its famous contour bottle design, which was introduced in 1916.

4. Deliver a unique unboxing experience

Why it’s effective: While any unboxing experience should be functional, great unboxing experiences can also create excitement, connect with customers on an emotional level, make them feel truly special, and encourage them to share their experiences on social media. 

Example: Apple has managed to create both a functional and delightful unboxing experience with attention to detail that’s second to none. Opening the box is a seamless experience, accessories are neatly arranged and protected, the packaging is sleek and clean, and instructions are minimal.

5. Use interactive packaging

Why it’s effective: Interactive packaging elements like QR codes, augmented reality (AR), puzzles, games, or scratch cards can provide extra information, engage customers beyond the product, and offer opportunities for marketing and customer feedback.

Example: Heinz Ketchup has placed QR codes on some ketchup bottles. Customers simply scan the code using their smartphones to access recipes, serving suggestions, or other marketing content. Nestle, on the other hand, has used AR games, like the AR 3D Runner Game, where kids could engage with Nesquik Powder’s mascot, Quicky.

6. Show cultural sensitivity 

Why it’s effective: Respecting cultural preferences boosts your brand’s reputation, allows you to appeal to a diverse audience, and helps you avoid customers taking offense, which can lead to bad press and even boycotts.

Example: Coca-Cola is well-known for adapting its designs for different markets and cultures. For instance, they often release special edition packaging for the Chinese New Year.

7. Personalize your packaging

Why it’s effective: Personalization, like adding a customer’s name or building a custom package, makes customers feel special, creates stronger connections, fosters engagement, improves the overall customer experience, and helps you stand out from competitors.

Example: Coca-Cola created the “Share a Coke” campaign where their brand name was replaced by the words “Share a Coke with…” and then a person’s name. The goal was to create more personal relationships with customers and encourage them to share their experiences with others.

8. Surprise and delight customers

Why it’s effective: Incorporating surprise elements into your packaging creates memorable customer experiences and contributes to word-of-mouth marketing.

Example: Birchbox, an online beauty subscription service, sends customers a curated selection of sample-sized beauty and grooming products each month so they can try them out before committing.  

While the sheer variety of products delights customers, there is also an extra element of surprise. In addition to customers choosing four to six products, the company includes extra surprises like bonus tools, exclusive promotions, and full-size products. 

The box’s design is also vibrant and fun, adding to a visually appealing and enjoyable unboxing experience that “wows” customers.

9. Use multi-functional packaging

Why it’s effective: Dual-purpose packaging adds value to the product beyond simply containing it, making it more appealing to customers. It often serves a practical purpose like portability and storage while seeking to reduce waste (glass jars you can use for storage immediately spring to mind).

Example: French food retailer Casino stores their hazelnut spread in a glass jar that can be repurposed as a coffee or tea mug. Neat right?

Packaging is a powerful brand enhancer

Packaging is much more than a simple tool for grabbing attention and protecting a product. It is a powerful brand enhancer, from boosting brand loyalty and reinforcing brand identity to differentiating a product and generating excitement. 

To take advantage of this power, be sure to implement the right packaging strategies like using sustainable brand materials, delivering a unique unboxing experience, delighting customers, and using multi-functional packaging.

And remember: the success of these strategies will depend on the proper support from the start. So, don’t forget to invest time, energy, and money into optimizing your inventory management processes.