By Annie Button

Whether your products are picked off the shelf or ordered over the Internet, your packaging acts as the direct touchpoint between your brand and your customers. This makes it a critical piece of marketing real estate and your best chance of convincing potential buyers that your product is the one for them.

You only need to look at the huge viral trend that is “unboxing” videos to realize how much the consumer experience can be affected by something as simple as what you wrap your product in. Despite that, it seems like countless brands barely attempt to make their packaging stand out – particularly if budgets are tight. As social media grows and becomes an increasingly powerful channel for reaching new audiences, delivering an innovative brand experience is going to be what distinguishes the major players in a market.

Ready to learn how to give your product packaging some personality? Here are our top tips for making your product packaging memorable and sharable.

1. Think Beyond the Box

Rectangular boxes might be practical, but they’re rarely interesting. If your immediate instinct was to put whatever it is you’re selling into a rectangular box, challenge yourself find a way to emphasize your brand or your product more creatively – here are some great visual examples.

Are you selling your goods online? This is even more important. Dispatching anything in a plain box made from corrugated cardboard offers zero “wow.” Even using the same material in a color that works with your brand will give this traditionally “boring” part of the package some edge.

2. Don’t Let Secondary Packaging Come Last

If your outer packaging has void space, how are you going to fill the gap so your product is protected? With edible goods, this is usually with air – no problem. Everything else? Not so much. Popcorn or colored shredded paper is a quirky alternative to packing peanuts, while biodegradable air pouches are better for filling more space.

3. Showcase What’s Inside

If you’ve got a visually appealing product — particularly something brightly colored or edible — give your customers a little sneak peek into the bag. It works on two levels, both informing customers about exactly what they’re getting, and appealing to their senses.

4. Jump on the Sustainability Train

Going to the effort of making your packaging reusable — particularly for bulk products — works for your brand on several levels. Firstly, it shows an environmental consciousness that will earn your company some brownie points. It’s also less likely to be thrown away even when the product inside runs out, extending the shelf-life of your brand name within consumer households. Get the design just right and you’ll find that people want your packaging as much — or even more than — the product inside.

5. Leave No Space Untouched

Your packaging has several dimensions. Line the inside with a pretty pattern, or sneak a hidden message or image on the underside. Maybe not every customer will notice, but the ones that do will appreciate it.

6. Embrace Packaging as Products

Incorporating your packaging into your product is a great way to get noticed. Take Tube Toys, for example, which uses their cylindrical package to become part of the toy. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either — advent calendars are another great example, particularly with the increase in high-end ones.

7. Get Personal

It’s virtually impossible to personalize in the FMCG industry (unless you’re Coca-Cola), but it might be worth a shot if you’re running a niche business online. Incorporating a card saying “thank you [customer name]” with purchases or being able to provide tailored recommendations as part of your service will make customers feel special and set you apart. A word of warning: bad personalization is worse than none, so if you can’t get it absolutely perfect, don’t try.

Why bother?

If you’ve read through this list and are still wondering what the point is, here’s the bottom line. Today, building a brand with longevity requires a loyal customer base that is willing to vouch for you and spread your name. In a recent survey, 52% of customers said they would be likely to make repeat purchases from a company that makes the effort to buy premium packaging, and 40% said they would share a unique package with their followers on social media.

It’s no secret that retaining a current customer is cheaper than trying to find new ones, but if you can do both in one move — simultaneously boosting your brand name and online visibility — you’re clearly onto a winner.