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Packaging: The Unsung Hero of Marketing

1000s more people will see your packaging in-store than will see your Instagram creative. So packaging should have 1000% more of your time and attention.

Packaging is your most important marketing tool.

1000s more people will see your packaging in-store than will see your Instagram creative. So packaging should have 1000% more of your time and attention.

For DTC brands, packaging is just as important. It’s critical in driving repeat sale rates and is an important tool for ad creative.

Packaging is key, so we should all be focusing on it more. The best packaging is clean and easy to read, grabbing customers’ attention and encouraging them to buy.

So how do you get packaging right? Read on to find out.

Get the hierarchy right

Clear on pack comms mean customers know what to read first. They also convince someone to buy your product rather than something else, whether they’ve heard of you before or not. To get these right, you need to think about hierarchy.

Getting the hierarchy right means customers will see what they need at the right time, so they’re encouraged to buy. You also need to communicate it effectively so you don’t overwhelm shoppers.

10 – 3 – 1 rule

What does the customer see from 10 metres, 3 metres and 1 metre away from your product?

At the 10m stage, you can mostly just see a brand colour and perhaps a logo. At 3m you can see some typography, a clearer logo and some secondary colours. At 1m you can copy, claims, proof points etc. But only once a customer has decided to pick your item up.


When working on your packaging, don’t forget to optimise for 10 and 3 metres away. This is when the customer is convinced to pick up and engage with your product, so you must grab their attention from afar.

Your most important messages

To work out which messages need to be top of your hierarchy, ask yourself what customers care about most in your category.

For example, customers visiting the cleaning aisle mostly care about whether the product will actually get the job done. This means efficacy needs to be the most prominent message.

Then, make notes on three areas:

What will make a shopper choose my product over something else?
What do I need to reassure a customer I do as well as everyone else?
What will a customer think is nice but won’t win them over?
Challenge yourself: will our customers care about a certain message? If not, it might not be too important.


You can also check out competitors to see what their hierarchy is. Pick up their products and do the squint test: blur your eyes and see which information jumps out first.


Pull it together

Take the notes you’ve made so far and turn them into a messaging hierarchy.


Use this format to show the most important message at the top, with everything else following.

Make sure you properly explain every point — don’t just say “great tasting”, explain what the taste is.

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, your brand doesn’t have to be at the top of the hierarchy. For our cleaning product example, a proof point about how effective it is might be more effective.

Be brutal here: you won’t be able to do it all. It’s better to keep the pack clean and easy to read. Under-communicate rather than baffle.


Nail down your core assets

Understand what your recognisable assets are. And don’t guess.

Ask your customers what they see when they think of your brand. It might be a colour, logo or typography. Use these to your advantage to get recognition from 10 metres away.

Make sure you don’t hold onto any bad brand assets. The smaller and less recognised your brand is, the easier it is to switch things up and create better assets. If you think it’ll be hard to hit bigger brand awareness with your current assets, change them.

Build your brief

Your messaging hierarchy and core assets are important parts of your packaging brief.

Make sure you also include your brand strategy. Knowing how you want your brand to be perceived is key. For example, if you’re going after premium, your whole packaging needs to get this across.

Also, think about your operational constraints. Are there shapes, styles or details your manufacturers can’t make? What can you change? Remember if you’re super constrained here, there might be a good business case for finding a new manufacturer so don’t give up.

Do maths

Now you’ve set the scene, you need to understand if it makes sense to increase your packaging costs.

Will your sales or repeat rate increase if you make these changes? Roughly how much can you assume they’ll go up by? And how much will your packaging costs need to rise to get there?

Work out if this number feels reasonable or not. A 1% increase in sales could mean a 10% increase in packaging costs, but in money terms, the sales figure might still win out.

Want more packaging chat? Get your hands on the full talk by becoming a member today.

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