Spreading Brand Awareness With Promotional Packaging
Be honest here — this is a safe space — how many times have you purchased a product solely based on the packaging? If your answer is zero, you’re a liar and this is no longer your safe space. Just kidding – kind of.
Packaging is Picking Up the Pace
But seriously, packaging plays a huge role in branding, image, and overall judgment of a product. Even though it typically gets torn apart, discarded, and eventually thrown away, packaging will always set the tone. It’s what takes a product from being great to being amazing.
If you ask Phil Martin, national sales manager of St. Charles, Illinois-based Warwick Publishing, packaging is “where it’s at.”
“It’s an overlooked add-on sale,” he says. “It really is.”
Martin explains that Warwick has only really gotten into packaging over the course of the last three years, and he says the reason it’s just now starting to really take off for them is the fact that there is so much already out there.
“In our industry, things move slowly,” he says. “Nothing in our industry seems to be a rock star overnight because there’s so much clutter. There’s so much new stuff and there’s so many things coming at distributors from all angles, that it takes a while for them to realize. So, it’s been a little slow, but it is definitely picking up.”
Industry experts note the growth opportunities in packaging as live events and in-office work return. But, trends leftover from the height of the pandemic remain, like the demand for custom-printed kits. So, with things going back to normal, these packaging trends are here to stay.
Over the years, packaging has evolved from being plain and purely functional to featuring colorful decorations, embossing, foil, you name it. A lot of that is thanks to enhancements in digital printing technology.
“In the old days, everything electronics or sunglasses or mugs or an umbrella — it was shipped in a plain white box,” Martin says. “And nowadays, if you can jazz it up and add color [it makes] the presentation more effective.”
To create packaging that stands out, Martin says Warwick’s primary imprint technique is digital printing, and that the company has a six-color digital press that allows for foil stamping and embossing.
Kelsey Konrad, marketing and IT manager of Independent Printing & Packaging, De Pere, Wisconsin, says her company has also embraced digital printing over the years.
“Digital printing isn’t new for us, but we’ve certainly invested more in it in the last year,” she says. “We’ve already added a new press and cutting table specifically for digitally printed packaging and have another in our sights for later this year.
Not only has the quality of digital print gotten remarkably good over the last few years, options like variable data printing, speed on press, and low minimums make it highly desirable in the highly competitive packaging market.”
Think Outside the Box (or Don’t)
Packaging, aside from having the potential to be aesthetically pleasing, can also be informational and provide useful details about your customers’ brand or company. Martin says this holds true, especially in trade show settings.
“When people are going to be handing out sunglasses or T-shirts at a trade show, it’s just so much better to put it in something where you can put more information about your company on the packaging than just having the product out on a table for people to grab,” Martin says. “[With] one of our pillow boxes, a lot of people put kits together, and we’ll put multiple promotional items into the pillow box and put it out, it’s really just a way to bring multiple items together.”
Now, on a more figurative level, it might make sense to think “outside the box” and toy with different shapes and materials. And while it can make you stand out, Konrad warns there are some things to consider.
“We have several standard size and shaped boxes, but can also do fully custom boxes as well,” she says. “Uniquely shaped boxes certainly catch the attention of their recipients, but distribution method needs to be considered when doing these. Odd-shaped items often cost more to ship, which makes them a better fit when distributed by hand or via a retail shelf.”
Back to the Basics
In a similar vein of not always needing to stray too far outside the box, Martin says, oftentimes, just going back to the basics creates the most effective packaging. In other words, don’t overthink it. “Everybody wants to be unique and different,” he says. “And overall, I think packaging has been overlooked for quite some time. So, I think just the simple packaging is becoming more popular.”
Whether you’re going with an interesting shape, an eye-catching decoration technique, or focusing on function overall, it’s paramount that you include packaging as part of the branding experience, just as you would consider the products inside the box.
You can think inside and outside of the box at the same time.