Unboxing, Unboxed: Seven Principles for Creating Packaging Experiences Worth Sharing

No matter how well your brand communicates with consumers at other touchpoints, the package is ‘the brand in the hand’.


Open YouTube, search ‘unboxing’ and you will find over 56 million videos. The number one unboxing video has received over 190 million unique views (ok, the cute kid helps). These astounding numbers illustrate just how serious consumers’ relationship with packaging is.

Prestige brands were pioneers in shifting the paradigm from ‘packaging as product housing’ to ‘packaging as brand experience’. This phenomenon was no accident, and in fact, was as painstakingly considered as many of the products luxury houses create.

A more crafted, journey focused approach to packaging allows brands to deliver semiotic messages to consumers that build powerful emotional bonds. It also helps to reinforce points of difference and ultimately goes some way to justifying premium pricing. As the late, great Steve Jobs said, “packaging can be theater, it can create a story”.


 

We all know amazing packaging when we see it. Although, how do we create it? What makes it an experience that people want to share? Landor believes there are seven principles for designing truly ‘shareworthy’ packaging experiences.

To ensure your packaging presents your brand optimally, it is critical to understand quality control at every stage of the journey to the consumer.

Principle 1: Create suspense & discovery

A layered unveiling process can create a heightened sense of suspense and make the gratification moment sweeter. Guiding the customer through the discovery of branded details – at every step of the unboxing – has the potential to create a stronger overall brand impression.

Principle 2: Make sound

There are multiple on-pack opportunity points where sound can play a role. We need to consider these as they influence the perceived value of the product and thus the brand. The gentle whoosh when an iPhone box is opened suggests quality and precision while the pop of a Pringles can signify the crunchiness of the product. Material selection, construction methods and manufacturing processes can all work together to create audible signatures that are distinctive to a brand.


 

Principle 3: Use scent

Fragrance is a powerful tool for brands in many markets. It is most prevalent in hospitality and retail design, it can provide brand recognition and identification instantaneously.

Yet most products purchased online and offline are infused with ‘warehouse-scent’. Regrettably, this results in an olfactive disconnect for customers and a missed opportunity for the brand. Designing packaging with a power of scent can transport customers and create memorable ‘signature scent’ moments, regardless of the environment.

Principle 4: Consider form

Think about the shape of your brand. Sharp angles, smooth curves, and beveled edges all communicate different attributes. Are you big and blocky, or sleek and elegant? It is important to consider that accessibility is paramount, so it is imperative to ensure that the ritual of unboxing is made easier through form, rather than more difficult.  

Principle 5: Encourage tactility

What does your brand feel like? Packaging is potentially the most tactile expression of your brand – so it is crucial that it feels right. For example, some of the key tactility codes for luxury brands are detailed embossing of uncoated stocks paired with metallic foils or varnishes. But whatever your category, creating intrigue through form, relief and texture equals more engagement from the consumer.

Award-winning “KOI” bottle from the Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery Co.

Principle 6: Exercise restraint

As new technologies rapidly develop, so too does the abundance of production techniques. It’s easy to get carried away with trying to incorporate all the latest bells and whistles into new packaging designs. However, successfully building brand awareness through packaging is a matter of restraint, not excess. It’s about choosing the right expressions for your brand and projecting a look and feel that is hardwired to the brand narrative.

Principle 7: Understand the journey your packaging goes on

No matter how well your brand communicates with consumers at other touchpoints, the package is ‘the brand in the hand’. Quite simply, it must deliver on the brand promise. To ensure your packaging presents your brand optimally, it is critical to understand quality control at every stage of the journey to the consumer. Understanding how climate impacts materials, print processes and production is usually the weakest link.

Wrapping up (See what I did there?)

But seriously. The principles we’ve just explored are not, by any means, a cheat sheet to designing successful packaging. Instead, they serve as a set of considerations for designing packaging that engages all the senses.

By embracing these principles, you might not reach 190 million hits on YouTube, although you will create a stronger emotional bond with your customer. Ultimately, this leads to an unboxing experience that others will want to share.


Ryan Shaw is the Creative Director at Landor for Southeast Asia.

Picture of Ryan Shaw

Ryan Shaw

Ryan Shaw is the Creative Director at Landor for Southeast Asia.

 

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