Think outside the box, urges brand designer

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Director says “Let the packaging become part of the gift”

Kate Bradford, managing director of Parker Williams packaging and design company explains why packaging can be just as important as the product.

The UK high street is awash with gift stores all purporting to offer something unique.

Yes, there are the independent boutiques that do sell one-offs, but more often than not, larger retailers and chain stores tend to lean towards slightly different versions of the same thing. And why not? They take note of trends ahead of the season and capitalise on them to come up with most fashionable products they can.

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But surely, in this oh-so-crowded market, offering the same thing as the shop next door but with a slight twist isn’t going to help you stand out from the crowd? Of course it won’t, When it comes to setting themselves apart from the competition, jewellers need to get creative with all aspects of their range – from product through to packaging.

Lifestyle retailer Oliver Bonas did just that. When it came to creating a new and exclusive range of handmade jewellery, the company realised it had to come up with something different, something a little bit outside of the proverbial box that had never been done before.And so the Ju Ju range was born.

The concept is based around the gifting experience and the role packaging plays in the process. Receiving a gift is as much about the anticipation surrounding the opening process as it is about the present itself. So the choice of packaging can make all the difference – both positively and negatively.

For example, a standard jewellery box will not create nearly as much excitement as a box which does something completely new, unexpected or really special. And that is exactly what happens when someone receives a gift from the Ju Ju range.

Each individual piece of jewellery is wrapped in a gift envelope. On opening, the package, it transforms into a photo frame to display pictures and comes complete with a choice of interchangeable message cards.

As soon as people realise what is happening, they feel like they are getting two gifts in one. Which to my mind, is very much the future of product packaging.

Of course, functionality is still very important. The outer packaging’s primary objective is – and always will be – to protect the product inside – but it can go so much further than that. Today’s consumers want to feel like they are getting the utmost value for money and are being spoilt when it comes to the final purchase.

Something a little experiential is what seems to tick a lot of consumer boxes these days too. So whilst for some companies, packaging still very much fulfils a practical purpose, for others, it has been transformed into part of the purchasing experience.

But that doesn’t mean the most important details should be overlooked. The external packaging is still the first thing that catches a consumer’s eye when they are browsing the shelves, so the branding and messaging should always be carefully considered. Whilst for some companies, bold, strong branding is the most important element to attract attention, for others it is all about delivering a subtle message of quality.

In the gifting industry in particular, a suggestion of surprise, intrigue and also quality are the three key areas which packaging must deliver in. And many elements combine to achieve this from the finish, colour and substrate to the graphic design and typography. All of these all work together to give a product its sense of identity, so it is paramount that these are aligned with what’s inside.

In addition to the packaging itself, layering plays a key role in the unwrapping process. Different textures and colours all play a role in adding to the intrigue and building up the excitement, as do gifting devices. Tags, ribbons and trims are all classic symbols of gifting and can be used not only to improve the experience but also to convey customised or seasonal messages that enhance the personalised feel or thought that has gone into the present.

So whilst it might seem like a purely functional component, packaging also plays an essential role in a product’s marketing. Particularly in our competitive gift industry, products need to offer consumers something a little bit different. They need to have a unique edge that helps them stand out from the crowd, sell-themselves and sparkle on shelf.

Quirky, creative, and well thought-out designs can do that and with a tailored and consistent message, and retailers will reap the benefits on their bottom line as a result.

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