Entrepreneurship 101: Storytelling through Product Packaging

Guest post by Ana Stanojevic


chocolate packaging


When shoppers enter a store where your product is displayed, they are faced with a wide range of choices. If their minds are not already firmly set on a specific product they want to buy, your product has only one way to differentiate itself among the competition: through its packaging.

Graphics, color and textual (product) information on a packaging label, along with prior knowledge or popularity of the brand, are the main things that influence a buyer’s decision. While the strategy of building product popularity involves many different factors and a lot of time, branding a product using a product label is very concrete and can be summed up in six words: Let your label tell a story. The best way to attract a customer is through visual storytelling. In that sense, a packaging label assumes the role of your product’s salesperson.


4 Important Questions to Answer to Earn Your Customers’ Trust

So, how do you make these three key packaging label elements attractive enough so people would want to buy your product? The first thing to do is consider the following questions:

  1. What are the things that distinguish your product from the competition? (Exceptionally fast shipping services? Very rare ingredients? Low product cost?)
  2. What feelings do you want to evoke with your product? (Excitement? Desire? Calm? Safety? Pride?)
  3. What are some words/traits you want your product to be associated with? (Strength? Trust? Reliability? Quality? Elegance? Elite?)
  4. What promise are you making to the customer?

Yes, all of that can be communicated via graphics, colors and short text that fits on a label. If it’s a beverage or food packaging label you are creating, you want it to communicate the product’s unique taste and smell. If it’s a toy label, it should probably emphasize the product’s entertainment value. Clearly, writing out “delicious” or “fun” is not enough, because why would a buyer believe you? You want all these factors to combine together to create the right effect that will earn your customer’s trust.


The Message behind Color Combinations

There are extensive studies on color symbolism and how different color combinations affect our judgment. In order to match up appropriate colors with the story you are telling your customers, it is necessary to do some serious research. Simple Internet search will quickly provide you with some basic information about color psychology:

  • Blue is considered to have calming, soothing effects on the viewers and is usually associated with trustworthiness and reliability.
  • We think of green as the color of nature and harmony, because it is everywhere around the majority of us. It is peaceful, “environmental” and is perceived as the perfect color to soothe anxiety and depression.
  • Red and orange energize us and radiate warmth. These are the colors that call to action.
  • Purple sparks imagination and has traits of both red and blue, so it can both uplift our mood and soothe our mind.
  • Brown. This earthy color is used for conveying that something is natural or organic, and it is associated with home, order and stability.
  • In Western cultures, white symbolizes purity and encourages us to de-clutter our physical and mental space.
  • Black invokes a range of emotions. It can be associated with power, emptiness, mystery, potential, etc.

These color meanings and associations are very general and are valid only for the standard shades. For example, while blue is associated with calm and rest, there are shades of blue, such as electric blue or turquoise, which have quite the opposite effect on people. That is why it is very important to do an extensive research on colors and choose those combinations that will properly represent your product.

Also note that colors are not chosen independently of text, logo and the rest of the label design.


How to Tailor Your Label Design

Depending on your product and the message you are trying to convey to customers, your design can be simple or elaborate, modern or retro, blatant or subtle. It can consist only of a simple logo, or of rich, beautifully illustrated images. Your professional designer should choose the right elements to come up with appropriate visual match for the story behind your brand.

If you want to save on design and professional photographs, you can look for appropriate stock images from popular websites such as Pixabay, Photopin, iStockphoto, etc. Designers can find lots of inspiration on Pinterest, Behance, Deviantart, and many other websites featuring inspirational label design.


Choose Your Words Wisely

This is easier said than done. It takes a lot of research, creative thinking and engagement with (potential) buyers to come up with the right words to deliver your message to the customer. You want it to be clear, but not too conspicuous. Not too long, but to include all relevant information. You don’t want to use overly exploited phrases.

In some cases this advice doesn’t apply. For example, for food labels you’ll mostly be governed by strict food labeling regulations and your storytelling will rely primarily on color and design. In some other cases your label will consist of only one word, so it’s very important to get that one word right.

Once you are happy with the text, you should also consider its font, style and size, because you’ll get potential buyers to actually read the text only if they like the visual side of your copy.


Embed the Label with Your Product Brand Spirit

Of course, there are more things to consider when creating a product label: its shape, size, material, how it is printed, whether it is professionally applied to the product packaging, etc. You may create the perfect text copy, logo and design, but if you fail to partner up with professional printers, you may end up with labels that will start peeling off the product as soon as your customers leave the store. As much as your exceptional label design is admired, the final product will not reflect professionalism.

In conclusion, think about how you can make the best of that palpable part of your branding strategy – the product label. Invest resources in embedding it with your product’s brand spirit and an appealing message to your customers, and watch how your customers connect with the storyline you so carefully built.