What is brand building and how does packaging play its part?

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In what is frequently referred to as ‘the good old days’, running a business simply involved coming up with a good idea for a product or service that people wanted. Because you were mostly dealing on a local level, that and a convincing sales pitch was pretty much all you needed.

As transport and communications made the market you could sell to that much greater, people discovered that a good ad campaign, carried out in the local papers or on local radio for example, could spread the word about their business further.

If it was a really good ad campaign, something else might happen: your slogan might become a catchphrase; if you ran a series of ads, you might develop a level of expectation around the next one; or you might create a character people identify with or find particularly engaging.

If any of these happened, those managing a company’s marketing (as ‘advertising’ was now known) realised that developing and building on such a success could be beneficial. And so, over time, consumers began to have expectations of the ads of some companies and, whether they were conscious of it or not, associate the businesses themselves with certain values, such as reliability, creativeness, quirkiness and so on.

This was the beginning of what we now call ‘brand marketing’.

Establishing and building a brand
These days, identifying those values you want people to associate with your business is usually the starting-point for any marketing campaign, not some fortuitous by-product. And getting that brand across is not just a case of doing the same kind of adverts on television – it’s about delivering a consistent message, personality and image across the whole of your business.

Often that will start with developing a company logo, but it also encompasses your social media presence; the way you ‘speak’ in the letters and emails you send to clients and suppliers alike; the fonts and colours you use on your website and in print; the faces you choose to represent the business within your marketing; even how you use emerging technologies says something about where you are positioning yourself with your target market.

Packaging, in all its forms, can play a huge part in this process.

Packaging, design and image
The boxes, bags and tins you buy things in are the obvious way that packaging and branding come together.

At the very basic level, branded packaging tells a potential buyer that what you’re selling is somehow unique, that it is only available from you. Take bottled water as an example. Even the most savvy consumers can find themselves looking at a number of different brands of bottled water, wondering which one to buy, when we know inside that they’re basically all the same. What makes us choose one over the other? If it’s not the price, then it’s the branding – either because it’s one we know and trust, or because it looks of a higher quality.

If you’re an established brand with loyal customers, being consistent in the design of your packaging immediately tells the customer something about what he or she is getting, and means your product is much more likely to catch their eyes when scanning a crowded supermarket shelf. And assuming they view your business positively, that should hopefully increase the likelihood of a sale.

By the same token, if you’re trying to promote a new product, it’s much easier to do so if you have a successful brand to build on – people will be far more open to trying something different if it’s being offered to them by a brand they trust rather than someone unfamiliar.

Even promoting a cheap and cheerful concept such as the supermarket ‘basics’ ranges takes a lot of thought; take a look next time you’re in Tesco or Sainsbury’s. They offer the comfort of being clearly consistent with the rest of the store’s branding, but the first thing that you notice is that there’s a lot more white space. The difference in the cost to the business of designing and producing packaging for the basic, standard and luxury ranges is probably not that substantial; what that packaging tells the customer about the difference between those ranges is huge.

Non-branded packaging can still support your brand…
Although we at Davpack do offer custom printed boxes which can promote your brand in a visual way, much of what we sell is generic, and on the surface can be used by anyone, anywhere, anytime. You may think that the type of boxes you choose to use, the tape you buy to seal them and the kind of protective packaging you wrap your product in, are decisions you make for practical purposes only.

But these apparently simple choices can speak volumes about the values your business represents.

At its simplest, if you’re marketing the product you’re selling online as a luxury item, you don’t want to mail it to your customers in the cheapest packaging and boxes you can find. It may do the practical job you want it to, and it may do it cheaply, but it probably won’t instil much confidence in your customers that they’re getting what they’ve paid for. In fact, it will almost certainly create a negative impression from the outset and may reduce the chances of repeat business, even if your customer is essentially happy with the actual purchase.

One of the best ways you can use packaging to reinforce your brand is if your business or product appeals to those with a concern for the environment. Packaging still has a bad reputation in many quarters, but actually much of it these days is made from recycled materials, and is reusable and/or degradable. Using the smallest amount of environmentally friendly packaging required to ensure your product reaches your customer safely tells people that you’re thinking about costs, thinking about the planet and sharing their concerns. And those are the sort of things that make people remember you and come back to you next time they need what you have to offer.

There are many reasons for you to think carefully about the packaging you use, and usually we concentrate on emphasising the practical or financial benefits of using one or the other. But it can’t hurt you to consider the wider implications of how your customers perceive your business when they receive your parcels and deliveries. Because, in the end, it’s the sort of thing that can earn those loyal customers we were talking about earlier.

Which are your favourite brands and what is it about them that appeals. Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below!

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Rebecca Price

Rebecca is a marketing specialist here at Davpack. Her speciality is making companies visible online. Fan of shopping and beautiful shoes. Davpack

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