Packaging can go a long way to making your goods more valuable. The right kind of packaging can make a big impact on your potential customer, and even encourage them to buy more products from you in the future.
Watching customers at my store, I’ve learned what appeals to them; what works technically, and what doesn’t. It’s a great experience, so I thought I’d share a few tips.
Use your packaging to tell the story of your product.
I write a little blurb for each of my card designs, and I’ve seen several customers slip that tag into the card before they send it. They aren’t major literary achievements, but I try to talk about the process (including where it was made) and why it says what it does. This simple thing adds value to the cards, and they want to share that value with the card’s recipient.
Assume your customer knows nothing about your process.
Give them enough information to be impressed by your skills, and curious to know more.
Be funny if you’re funny.
Unless you’re selling medical equipment, it’s alright to not take yourself too seriously.
Try to appeal to your whole audience base- and expand to reach to another one.
All kinds of people are going to pick up your product and look at the back. Your blurb might be the hook that catches them.
Don’t write too much.
Try to make it short and sweet, so they will read it all. Otherwise you wasted all that time trying to be clever!
Think of your packaging as an extension of your product and brand.
You should spend as much time thinking about your packaging as you do about your business card (which I know you obsess about.) In fact, you should probably try to think about it all at once.
Use materials that reflect your product, and your company’s philosophy.
If you’re into upcycling, use recycled papers. If your product is really modern and tech savvy, think unusual materials (aluminum?) and glossy stock.
Make sure your packaging does not distract from your product.
Usually it’s not a good idea to use bright colors or busy patterns in your packaging. You want it to complement your good. It’s not the focal point.
Keep your visual message consistent across your products. Inconsistent designs can also distract from your message and designs.
Be professional, but not TOO professional.
Make sure you’re spelling is write, and your not making to many grammar mistakes. (Haha. Couldn’t help myself.) Don’t crop things strangely, or leave extra glue bits everywhere. BUT do make sure to leave a little character in your packaging. You’re hand-making, and hand packaging these things- a little quirkiness adds value. Think about the packaging at Anthropologie ($$) vs. the packaging at TJ Maxx ($). Using natural materials, and leaving the touch of your artistic hands adds value.
It’s tempting to be only whimsical about your packaging, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. (Do not get rid of all the whimsy, though.)
It’s gotta work.
I’m constantly reworking my tags and labels to fix them when it’s obvious they just aren’t working. Maybe they fall off every time someone picks it up. Maybe I’ve hidden them too well in my product. Maybe my type is too small. Think about your audience and be practical.
Leave room for a price.
I put a 1/2″ x 1 ¾” tag on every product that comes into the store. Sometimes I have to get really creative to keep from harming the product with my sticky sticker. Try to think about where your price is going to go, and how easy it will be to remove. Often your product will be a gift, so the price should disappear. I’ve started including a tag on my art prints, that has an end that can be cut off to remove the pricing completely.
Use renewable materials.
A lot of this is just personal opinion, but I’m all for getting rid of “plastic sleeves on everything”. They aren’t recycle-able, and they just go straight in the trash.
Even if you disagree- make sure to use materials that you can easily replace. Things you know you’ll be able to order again.
Your time is money.
Your packaging shouldn’t take more time than your product. Don’t make anything that’s so delicate that you will have to constantly fidget with it, or that is difficult to put together in the first place.
Think about protecting your goods.
I know, I know, a plastic sleeve is great protection- but you’re smart, I’m sure you can think of something else.
Let your product be accessible, even through the packaging.
Don’t cover too much of your design with your packaging. If it’s something that needs to be touched to be believed, leave it open! (Or else, consider having an open one everywhere your products are sold.)
Don’t be too practical.
Read all the advice above, and disregard what you want. You are the best judge of how your products will gain value from packaging. If you want to hand-cut gift boxes for every item, do it. (But make sure to pay yourself for it.) Gift packaging it a great way to reinforce the special nature of your product, and appeals to the thrifty (and lazy) who won’t have to come up with wrapping.
Think about hiring a graphic designer.
It might not always be feasible to hire a graphic designer for each thing you make, but a clever designer can help you develop some design solutions that you can work with yourself. It might not seem like the best way to spend your startup money, but I truly believe the right help can make the difference for you- especially as you start to work with stores and shows. Here are a few things they can help you with (be sure to make a list before meeting with anyone.)
Designing a logo that tells your story, and can grow with your company.
It’s tempting to make a logo with your favorite typeface, but chances are your tastes will change. A designer can help come up with a logo that can adapt to your changing tastes (a different color combo, perhaps) and your ever-widening product line.
Come up with some basic design solutions that will solve all your packaging dilemmas for years to come.
Most of the designers I know love a challenge. If you ask them to come up with a basic label design that can be used in a variety of ways, chances are they will think it’s the best puzzle they’ve ever met.
Think of things you’ve never heard of.
While you’ve been off perfecting what you make, they’ve been obsessing about labels, labels processes, materials, and all the nerdy stuff you don’t have time for. They might have a few tricks up their sleeves that will save you money and time.
Will be a great resource for you as your company grows.
Working with professionals is usually a good idea, whether it’s a designer, a plumber, or an accountant. As your needs change, they can help you clarify your goals, and keep you on-track. They can refer you to the right kind of helper, and make you think of things you might have overlooked otherwise.
Whatever you do, make sure to give your packaging the consideration it deserves, and let us all see what you’re up to!