If you want it to, your packaging and infill can say a lot about your product. You can communicate how eco-friendly you are (hello, brown paper and recycled post-consumer waste), the style of your product (minimalist? colorful?), and even what the product is supposed to be used for.
Or, you can stick it in a plain box that doesn’t say anything.
When you first start out, packaging is fairly low on the priority list. But as you start to gain traction as a small business, it becomes more important to see your packaging as an extension of your company and an essential marketing tool at your disposal. At a bare minimum, your packaging should be cohesive with your brand colors and values, but if you really want to stand out, you need to do something creative that will set you apart.
To get some inspiration, let’s look at some companies that really knocked it out of the park with their packaging, be it with unique design, unusual function, or just with a great sense of humor.
Some of these won’t be doable for most businesses, but hopefully it will spark some inspiration as to what your company could do and help you think deeper about your products and the design of your packaging.
RXBar is the perfect example of taking simplicity to the extreme. It stands out dramatically from the competition because of its lack of common design tropes — no mountain climbing, no tiger wrestling, no boring shot of the bar cut in half. Its ingredients are simple, and its packaging highlights that.
No brand, no upsell, no problem — and no fancy design, either! Brandless is all about simplifying the experience of shopping for household goods, removing the middle man and charging less for its products because there is no added price for the name recognition of big brands (or its marketing budget). Its packaging reflects that perfectly, with simple and clean labels that describe the product on a clean white background, surrounded by simple colors that pop.
Waldo Trommler Paints
Employing an effective, bold, and bright design was the perfect choice for Waldo Trommler Paints. These cans not only stand out visually from every other boring paint can — they also serve a vital function: allowing customers to quickly and easily understand what each can is meant to do. Form and function, unite.
Source: The Dieline
Companies make claims about their products all the time, some less believable than others. How about backing up your claim with your packaging? That’s what Festina set out to do with its waterproof diving watches, literally submerging them into water in their packaging. They aren’t shipped this way, but they aren’t just for concept art, either — Festina displays the watches these way at its brick-and-mortar stores, making for an eye-catching and convincing show.
The craft beer scene is cutthroat these days — every bearded, flanneled, lumberjack-looking hipster has more options for craft beer than for vinyls of music you’ve never heard of. So what’s a beer company to do? Ninkasi decided to create an artist-in-residence program and hand over the design of its cans to them. Each design is unique, beautiful, and stands out from all the other cans on the shelf.
A plastic bear-shaped squeeze bottle this honey is not. Playing off the similarity of the colors of beer and honey, Bee Raw presents a “flight” of different honey flavors to sample. It’s not only visually appealing, but it also functions as a great way to sample their wares and can be given as a stunning and unique gift.
This one is concept art for packaging (meaning it never actually hit the shelves), but it is no less inspiring! This artist took a product we all know and love — pasta — and reimagined it in a totally unique way: as hair! The whole packaging has a great sense of humor and would absolutely make the viewer smile, while also serving an important function: showing what the product looks like. By reimaging a tried-and-true classic in a new way, you could catch a customer’s eye and convince them to go with you, especially in a niche where it’s not easy to differentiate yourself.
Stranger and Stranger
Source: Stranger and Stranger
Stranger and Stranger made an incredibly bold statement with this limited-edition, vintage-inspired holiday design. The label is incredibly detailed, and the bottle is wrapped in an equally detailed specialty sheet of newspaper, recalling the feeling of prohibition and moonshine. This would be tough to pull off year-round, but is a great example of how you can make a splash and push the boundaries in limited releases to wow your customers.
A luxury, artisan, or artist-designed packaging may be out of your reach, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get inspired and brainstorm ways to make your product stand out from the crowd. Hopefully this list provided some attainable inspiration for you and you feel ready to wow your customers and outshine your competitors with your beautiful, and functional, branded packaging.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.