Premium brands shouldn’t need a second chance to make a great first impression

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This article was originally posted on www.linkedin.com by Matt Oakley.

“I want it to be as beautiful as possible. Even if it’s inside the box. A great Carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet. Even though nobody’s going to see it.” Steve Jobs.

There are two packaging experiences that remain as vivid to me now as the feelings they stirred up at the time that I experienced them.

As a child I developed an affinity for Liverpool FC (I had no idea of the barren years that would follow!). I’d spend countless hours pretending to be Ian Rush. But one thing was missing. Me owning the white-flecked famous red shirt, emblazoned with the Candy sponsor logo.

With a birthday fast-approaching though, I was hopeful that I’d be kitted out like my Kop heroes. Imagine my disappointment though when I unwrapped what I thought was my shiny new kit, only to be met by the word ‘replica’ on an unbranded box. Absolutely distraught, it was only when I opened the pack that I realised my dreams had come true.

Fast forward a number of years to the day I bought my first iPod and the experience couldn’t have been more different. From the minute I unwrapped the protective film, and peeled back the layers of perfection, it was a suitable starter for the main course that followed.

The two experiences couldn’t have been more different. But that’s no surprise, right? A £40 football kit should never have the same warmth, style and ‘smile in the mind’ that a £200+ piece of tech?

Apple have consistently got their packaging spot on (channelling their inner master Carpenter, as per Steve Jobs’ vision). The unwrapping of their products is an experience in its own right. YouTube videos that capture this experience have tens of thousands of views, testament to how the brand not only captures the imagination with the functional benefits of their product, but triggers emotional connections.

So why is it that so many brands don’t recognise the need to a) have a packaging experience that reflects the price of their products, and b) how they need to achieve their desired positioning in the mind of the consumer through their packaging?

1. Brands underestimate the importance of first impressions

Just as is the case when individuals meet for the first time, brands must make a good first impression when it comes to convincing consumers that a future relationship with them will be rewarding.

By the time a product is ready to be experienced, advertising and marketing will have played its role and the packaging is the final gateway to the product. It has to deliver on all of the brand promises that have preceded it and not disappoint.

Brands like Sonos, Bang & Olufsen and Uniform Waves get it right by tapping into the senses and emotions of their customers. Be it with the physical appearance or production values, pack structures, or the general overall experience. Form and function have equally as important roles when attempting to act as a key part of the brand experience for premium products.

2. Brands underestimate the importance of creating a point of difference

Choice, or rather the abundance of it that faces today’s consumers is a core driver for developing a point of difference. Brands who can help consumers with decision-making are not only better placed to drive a response but once experienced (and seen to satisfy the consumer needs) generate longer term loyalty and referral.

Packaging’s role in creating a point of difference starts with the ability to build wider brand associations (Apple for instance not only deliver inspiring technology but extend perceptions of brilliant design in their packaging), but also to establish smile in the mind moments.

3. Brands underestimate the importance of lasting impressions

Just as important as creating good first impressions is the need to create lasting impressions. As previously mentioned, a positive packaging experience can take on a life of itself (as exhibited by the number of dedicated YouTube videos) which is not only a way to drive brand reach, but through leveraging social proof can act as a decisive factor in influencing purchase.

Getting premium packaging right

Positive first impressions, brand reach and loyalty, consumer endorsement, these are all compelling reasons for brands with a premium price point to get their packaging experience right.

Thinking broader though it’s equally as important for brands to ensure the packaging of their products acts as an extension of their brand proposition and personality. Packaging and the product experience is the brand in its purist form, and therefore must establish positive associations.

Make sure to give the original article some love here!