For creators selling art online, packaging is one of the most underrated marketing opportunities. In this article, we’ll explain the importance of branded packaging, reveal key elements of a successful branded packaging/unboxing experience, and go over the benefits and types of various package inserts. We’ll also share insights from creators who’ve leveraged packaging to build their brand.
In simplest terms, branded packaging is packaging that intentionally presents your work in a way that aligns with your brand identity, sets you apart from competitors, and encourages your customers to tell their friends and family about your business.
According to Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution, the value of branded packaging “extends far beyond the customer experience into residual marketing effects. The experience goes beyond the online order to when the customer actually opens the beautifully wrapped package and shares that experience across social networks. That act of online and social recommendations drives loyalty from your customers and promotes brand awareness.”
The research is in: Smart packaging is critical to your business’s bottom line. At least one-third of product decision-making depends on packaging, 52% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases from a business that delivers premium packaging, and 4 in 10 consumers say they’d share photos of packaging via social media if the packaging was especially unique.
Furthermore, unboxing videos, a “particular genre of user-generated videos which generally consist of people opening boxes carrying consumer products,” have exploded on YouTube.
According to Google, in 2015 alone, Americans watched 60 million hours of unboxing videos on YouTube, totaling 1.1 billion views. Another Google study found that 62% of people who watch unboxing videos do so to learn more about a product.
Now that we’ve established the importance of branded packaging, let’s take a look at the key elements of a successful branded packaging and unboxing experience:
- Box. For most products, you’ll generally need some sort of box or poly mailer. This is usually the first physical point of contact between you and your customer, so it makes sense to spend more money here. Pakible is an excellent resource for custom boxes and poly mailers.
- Tissue Paper. Wrapping your products in tissue paper not only keeps them in place but can also add an extra WOW factor to the unboxing experience. If it’s appropriate for your brand, don’t be afraid to use colored or patterned tissue paper—one-stop packaging shop Lumi can help!
- Protective filler. Depending on the contents of your package, you may need additional protective material, like foam inserts, styrofoam packing peanuts, bubble wrap, air pillows, crinkle paper, and excelsior. When it comes to filler, Uline has numerous options.
- Tape. Clear packaging tape may be the standard, but today’s brands can also incorporate colored and even custom-printed tape. Again, Lumi’s got you covered.
- Stickers. Versatile and inexpensive, stickers can do wonders for elevating your packaging and brand. Additionally, stickers are a great alternative to directly printing on your box. If you’re interested in creating custom stickers, labels, or even magnets, check out Sticker Mule!
- Receipt. It’s commonplace to include a receipt, but consider using a custom envelope to present it in a friendlier way.
- Package inserts. Think product samples, personal notes, and other above and beyond extras. We’ll go over these in the next section.
Package inserts are low cost (sometimes even free!) and can be highly targeted, making them ideal for cross-selling, liquidating hard-to-move products, and building customer trust.
Here are the five most common types of package inserts:
- Product samples. Including free product samples is one of the best ways to cross-sell customers by introducing them to other products they may be curious about.
- Discount offers. These offers reward customers with discounts or credits for future purchases, whether it’s “free shipping on your next order,” “X% off your next order,” or “$X credit towards your next order.”
- Personal notes. A handwritten thank-you note is arguably the least expensive and most effective way to build loyalty. This is a competitive advantage for smaller businesses that most bigger ones can’t compete with.
- Small surprise gifts. Inexpensive surprise gifts are perfect for showing customers you care without making them feel like you’re trying to sell them something else.
- Product review. Feel free to use package inserts as a way to ask customers for feedback, even if it ends up being negative. Like Bill Gates says, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Below, we’ve compiled a list of three creators who’ve leveraged packaging to build their brand.
Hilary Duff: Breathe In. Breathe Out. Album Package
When Hilary Duff released her new album, she created a one-of-a-kind care package to promote it. With a physical version of her album, 4 bonus tracks to download, an exclusive t-shirt, a custom tattoo set by Tattify, a personal thank-you note, and a few of her favorite products, like EOS lip balm, it’s no wonder Hilary Duff called the box “a care package from me to you!”
Uel Aramchek: The Secret Fiction Package
Branded packaging doesn’t necessarily mean fancy packaging. For instance, Uel Aramchek’s Cryptofiction “comes in a standard envelope, with address labels and stamps, so there’s nothing aesthetically unique in the way it is delivered,” Aramchek explains.
In Aramchek’s case, the packaging (i.e. envelope) is purposefully kept simple to direct the fan’s attention towards the contents of the envelope, which is the real surprise . Although we can’t say much (Yes, it’s that secret!), here’s what we can reveal:
According to Aramchek, “Once per month, I write one short work of fiction in secret. Those who have subscribed by midnight (PST) on the first of that month receive a physical copy of that piece mailed to their address, personally signed by me, and marked with the number of official copies submitted into circulation. This is the one and only time that this story will ever be available.”
Bill Nye: Evolution from Bill Nye
Created in partnership with Quarterly. Co, a popular subscription box service, the Evolution from Bill Nye box comes with an exclusive Bill Nye coaster from CoasterMatic, a DNA bow tie from Cyberoptix (with instructions!), a DNA helix from Cardboard Safari, and a personal note from Bill Nye himself. The box also includes a promotional card for Bill Nye’s new book.
In summary, especially for creators selling art online, branded packaging is truly one of the most underrated marketing opportunities. Whether you choose to include a handwritten thank-you note or wrap your work in beautiful tissue paper, showing your fans you care is a surefire way to boost their loyalty while building your own brand.
Do you have unique packaging? We want to see! Tag us on twitter at @Patreon and attach some pics of your awesome work.