You’ve come up with a clever catch phrase, you’ve put it on a shirt, and you’ve set up an online shop – because after all, your intention was to sell this stuff, and not to use it as insulation for your treehouse. People saw your stuff, and liked it, either because it’s really neat and eye-catching, or because they’re your mom’s friends and she gently hinted to them that they should check it out if they want to be invited to the annual Memorial Day barbecue.
And then the magic began: people actually started to buy your stuff, and you’re pretty sure that at least some of them have never been within 100 miles of your mom. You got excited, put your product in a box, and shipped it out. And that was it, and your sales dried up. Why? Because you shipped your creation in a plain cardboard box, wrapped in tissue paper, and your business’s future accompanied your packaging to the nearest landfill. Your lesson? Brand your packaging.
Your Brand Is You
If you don’t have a brand yet, now would be a good time to make one. An effective, memorable brand can be more beneficial to your business than a whole slew of slick, stylish websites laden with glowing testimonials and expertly edited photos. Your brand is more than just a logo; it’s your company. It’s what people associate with who you are and what you do. It may take some time for your brand to become an instantly recognizable, international symbol of prestige and quality, but you have to start somewhere.
Your Brand Is Your Signature
Just like you would sign a birthday card for your grandma, so too should you sign your shipments to your customers. Your brand, like your signature, is unique, and shows the recipient of your product that it came from you. One-off sales are great, but the long-term success of your business depends on building solid relationships with your clients. Your brand will be the cornerstone of that relationship.
Exposure, Exposure, Exposure
Naturally, the only way anybody will ever see your brand is if you show it to them. A brand that never leaves your office is about as useful as a flashlight without batteries. You don’t want to inundate your clients with your brand, to the point that they have to open three branded boxes and a blister pack stamped with your logo just to get to their personalized napkin, but you do want them to see your brand, and see it often. Ideally you want your customers to associate your brand with that product, so that every time they need it in the future, they think of you.
Advertising Is Good, Free Advertising Is Better
Most people throw away the packaging that held their purchased treasures, and it may seem like a waste to spend money on packaging that’s just going to get tossed. However, a well-branded package can deliver customers to your doorstep even from the bowels of a neighborhood dumpster. If your packaging is branded, it will be visible not only to your clients, but also to the delivery guy, random passers-by, that nosy neighbor who absolutely must know everything about everyone, friends, relatives, garbage men, dumpster divers, and a whole list of other people who just might be in the market for whatever you’re selling. Simply putting your brand out there can bring you unanticipated – but highly welcome – business.
Professional Image Matters
That plain cardboard box may be excellent at protecting your merchandise as it makes the perilous voyage from you to your client, but it does nothing for the client’s perception of your business. If your package looks like it was haphazardly thrown together, your client will likely think that you run a sloppy operation, and go elsewhere the next time around. Your super-awesome silk sleepwear will be super-worthless if your client thinks that you don’t take your business seriously. A brand conveys care and professionalism, and as much as we’re all taught to never judge a book by its cover, the truth is that we all do.
Branding Is Worth It
Branding is not a waste of time and money. It’s an investment in the future of your business. If you want to succeed, you should put some serious time and effort into creating a brand that sticks in people’s minds. Make your business easily identifiable, put your image out into the world as much as possible, and you may even end up a household name. But even if your ambitions aren’t that lofty, creating a good brand and using it in your packaging will make your clients happy and keep them coming back.
Your mom’s blackmailing skills may be legendary, and they may even be effective at getting you those first few orders (they did, after all, work every time she wanted you to do your chores once upon a time), but if you want to expand the scope of your business beyond the local book club, then branding your packaging is the way to go.