In the realm of retail and eCommerce, appearances are (almost) everything. Gone are the days when you could just throw your products in a brown box and ship it to your customers. In an age when consumers revel in unboxing experiences and are increasingly “doing it for the ‘gram,” businesses should level up their game when it comes to brand visuals.

Enter custom-branded packaging.

When done right, custom packaging can:

Pave the way for memorable unboxing moments.
Create an excellent first impression of your brand.
Communicate your ethos and value proposition.
Encourage customers to talk up your brand and products.

...all of which can ultimately lead to stronger customer relationships, higher levels of engagement, and more sales.

So, how exactly can you execute an effective packaging strategy?

Consider the pointers below.

Clarify Your Standards and Objectives

Before running off to design your fabulous new boxes, bags, and tissue paper, take a moment to ensure that you (or whoever is in charge of packaging) are crystal clear on what your brand stands for, as well as the standards and guidelines to be adhered to. If you already have this in writing, then great.

The next step is to iron out your outcomes. What are your objectives for having custom packaging? Why are you doing it in the first place?

Another good question to ask is what do you want people to feel or do when they receive your packaging?

The answer to that will inform the design and execution of your packaging strategy.

For example, if you want to make people laugh, then you could inject some humor in your designs. Dollar Shave Club, a brand that’s known for having a playful and quirky personality, does this by printing out witty one-liners and jokes on its razor boxes.

Or, if you want to inspire and motivate people, then your packaging should reflect that. As is the case with the apron makers Enrich & Endure. The duo's packaging combination includes an inspirational card that reads "Do it brilliantly. Do it beautifully. Do it quietly."

It’s a simple add-on, but it definitely makes an impact!

Write Compelling Copy

While colors and illustrations go a long way in getting your packages to pop, you shouldn’t focus on these things alone. The different components of your packaging — such as your boxes and tissue paper — serve as valuable real estate for your brand messages, so use them wisely.

Come up with compelling taglines or statements that communicate your unique proposition so people instantly know what you’re all about.

Wild Planet Foods, which sells canned seafood, does this extremely well. The company is all about sustainably-sourced seafood products, and it makes this loud and clear in its packaging copy. Wild Planet’s tuna cans, for example, have the following phrases on them:

100% pole & line caught
Wildly good for the planet
Wildly good for you
Wildly good taste

Wild Planet’s copy immediately communicates the company’s value proposition, which then helps it attract the right customers (i.e., people who love seafood but care about where their food is coming from).

Consider Personalized Packaging

We don’t need to tell you how important personalization is to today’s consumers. Multiple studies have shown that shoppers love tailored products and experience.

So, it stands to reason that your packaging should also play a role in your personalization efforts.

Depending on your merchandise, it may be a good idea to include your customers’ names on your product packaging.

The shampoo brand Function of Beauty, for instance, prints the name of each customer on its bottles.

Another idea is to include handwritten notes when you send out your items. Personalized cards — especially if they’re handwritten and contain the customer’s name — are a simple yet effective way to make shoppers feel special and more connected to your brand.

Check out the following welcome package from the health supplement brand Athletic Greens, which contains a card with a handwritten “welcome” greeting.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

While the larger components of your packaging (e.g., boxes, shopping bags, etc.) are important, you shouldn’t overlook the little things — like stickers,packaging tape, etc. They may be small (literally) but they can have a huge impact on the unboxing and overall brand experience of your customers.

If it makes sense for your business, add in little, but significant details into your packaging. It can be as simple as a cute sticker or some custom tape with your logo on it.

We can see this in action in HEAD WEST, a Bay Area marketplace, which uses custom tape to add personality to its packaging.

Pay Attention to Sustainability

Sustainability is more than just a trend — it’s a way of life. And consumers are increasingly changing their lifestyles by aligning themselves with companies that demonstrate their commitment to society and the planet.

One way you could show your customers that you care about the environment is through the use of sustainable packaging. Use recyclable or compostablemailers to limit your environmental impact, and remind your customers to reuse or recycle your packages whenever possible.

Check out the packaging efforts of the skincare retailer Sage & Stone Organics. The company uses noissue’s sustainable mailers, which in addition to being earth-friendly, are also durable, writeable, waterproof, and plant-based.

Encourage Social Shares

Use your packaging to drive social shares. While you can often accomplish this simply by having beautifully wrapped products, it doesn’t hurt to give people a nudge in the right direction.

Why not add a card telling people to share product photos on sites like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Be sure to include your brand’s social media handles and hashtags so you can see and track who’s spreading the word.

The skincare company Maelove does exactly that. Check out the card they have in each shipment below:

Choose the Right Custom Packaging Partner

Already have a packaging strategy and ready to create your materials? The next step is choosing a vendor who can create your custom-branded packaging. The right solution provider will depend on your needs, but here are some factors to consider:

Design capabilities. Can the vendor help you create your packaging or connect you with design partners? Or, if you already have a custom design, how easy would it be to print it out?

Supported materials. You’ll need to choose a solution provider that can print your designs onto the shipping supplies and packaging that you use for your products. Common materials include tissue paper, stickers, and mailers. To save time and effort, opt for a vendor that can work with all the materials that you need, rather than trying to source from multiple companies.

Sustainability practices. We don’t need to tell you (again) that sustainability is important. Your customers will appreciate environment-friendly packaging, so it’s best to do business with packaging vendors that promote sustainability.

Turnaround time. How soon do you need your shipping materials? Be sure to ask your vendor about their turnaround time so you can plan accordingly.

Costs. Find a packaging partner that can deliver quality goods while helping you stay within your budget. Printing and shipping costs will obviously vary from one vendor to the next, but generally speaking, the larger your order, the lower your costs will be. If you’re a small business that can’t take on bulk orders, find a provider that can provide cost-effective packaging solutions without requiring high order volumes.

Do you need help creating and printing custom branded packaging for your products? noissue lets you design your own branded tissue paper, stickers, and tapes. Simply upload your design, logo, or illustration, and we'll do the rest. We also offer low minimum order quantities and ship anywhere in the world within 3 weeks.