Packaging Experiences - Part I: The Assessment

Jim Stringer

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Branding alone isn’t enough these days, people want experiences, they want magic moments and memories to enrich their lives with. To create these experiential moments requires you to identify and appreciate what creates the magic for your consumer and enhance it at every ’touchpoint. ’

So how do we go about the daunting task of packaging experiences? Job number one is taking an honest unbiased look at your brand offering to define the experience opportunity that makes the most sense. You will need to assess your brand and how it fares in each of the five core brand components (your brand should have at least one of these components):

  • Transformation
  • Optimism
  • Individuality
  • Involvement
  • Adventure

Transformation occurs when a brand takes you from one state of mind to another. The health and beauty category is all about selling transformation (use our cream and you will look years younger). Transformation brings a very positive, personal and emotional feeling to a consumer. This in turn equates the brands value.

This component of an experiential brand conveys the feeling of pure happiness with a brand. They give the consumer a reason to smile and expect the best from it. Optimism can be achieved by the point of view a brand may have. For instance, every time you purchase brand X, money is donated to a charity. Maybe brand X uses no chemicals and therefore makes you feel good about using it. Optimism is the hope that is instilled in the consumer by a brand.

Individuality makes the brand a unique, one-on-one connection with the consumer. One way brands achieve individuality is through consumer customization (selecting a color or custom build). Another can be the way the individual feels about the brand (one person feels safe while another feels elite). The point is that each person takes away something unique from the brand offering.

Brands that invite consumers to indulge in a sense of influencing and shaping the brand experience are at the heart of involvement. Involvement is a more recent trend in experiential packaging. One brand that became very successful by concentrating on the involvement component is Jones Soda. By allowing the consumer to create the labels for the sodas, the consumer became involved in building the brand, similar to the way consumers were allowed to vote on the next new color of M&Ms.

Lastly, adventure represents the component of brands that convey ideas of excitement and exploration. Adventure can be the Hummer vehicle promising you adventure off-road (which is how often?). From a more true experience standpoint, you would be better advised to take a cue from Edoc Laundry. Edoc has developed a line of shirts with hidden codes that eventually lead the consumer to a murder mystery online. Adventure in a brand is especially useful for creating a buzz and viral marketing.

These five components provide the creative inspiration for developing brand messaging and communication. Once they are thoroughly uncovered and understood, consider the following:

  • Which experiential components fit with my brand?
  • How well are these currently communicated?
  • What are some innovative ways to utilize design as a tool to create and extend the experience?

It is one thing to know what your brand components are, it is another to communicate them to others and live up to their promise. In part two of Packaging Experiences, we will discuss the importance of experiential packaging and the application of a brand across all of its touchpoints. Until then take a good honest look at your brand through the eyes of others, you may be surprised at what you find.

Jim Stringer is the Creative Director for XO Create! which provides expertise in packaging experiences. XO Create! assists organizations with branding, positioning and moving product through compelling packaging solutions. To contact Jim call 678.319.4242


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