Canadian Packaging

Brand in a box

By Darrell Friesen   

Design & Innovation Coding & Labeling Design HP SmartStream Mosaic Jet Label & Packaging Ltd.

Design your packaging strategy to incorporate best practices for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels

With e-commerce exploding globally, brands have gained a golden opportunity to strengthen customer engagement by creating standout, identifiable labels for their delivery boxes.

Within this burgeoning niche, the ability of labels to help drive brand recognition, consumer loyalty, and customer retention can be a boon to those savvy enough to capitalize on it through cunning and creativity.

There are, however, some caveats. Many brands have chosen to deliberately downplay the attractiveness of boxes delivered to doorsteps to discourage theft—the proverbial “porch shopping.”

But even for those choosing to go the understated route, all is not lost, as great opportunity literally lies within.


Super-attractive, brand-identifying labels can be placed in a variety of spots on the inside of the box—on the bubble-wrap used to wrap a product, for example, or on any or all of the boxes or bags placed inside.

This sort of “business on the outside, party on the inside” prevents the package from standing out too much on the porch, then, once safely inside with its intended recipient, makes the customer feel special through a true brand-in-a-box experience.

Competition to sell is intense, and companies are continually seeking ways to stand out in the crowded retail landscape—both in the brick-and-mortar and online space.

Different strategies lead to success in these spaces, although there is significant overlap.

We advise customers to be strategic about their packaging strategy as a whole, and to incorporate best practices for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

It’s important to note that while brick-and-mortar is about standing out on the shelves, in e-commerce the packaging is less about marketing to new leads, and more about building your brand with people who have already bought and received your product.

The experience of opening the product and making the customer feel “special” will often drive good reviews, recommendations and repeat purchases, which is the bread and butter of e-commerce.

When there is no friendly in-store associate or vibrant point-of-purchase display, e-commerce boxes, bags and labels can help create emotional connection.

One fun (albeit somewhat baffling) trend is the growing popularity of ‘unboxing videos.’

Apparently an increasing number of people love to post online videos of themselves opening packages, and a growing number love to watch.

All oddities aside, the jobs of brand-owners and marketers are not to question trends but rather capitalize upon them.

If people opening boxes are now social media darlings, so be it. Unboxing videos can be a valuable—and viral—way to show off spectacular labels and package design, and to capture shoppers’ hearts and minds through friends and influencers.

The point is that e-commerce boxes are no longer necessarily destined for an audience of one—pulling them closer into alignment with brick-and-mortar packaging.

Let’s say you have an established brand, but want to create continuity of experience. You also want to ensure repeat business, so it’s best to think about your packaging strategy as a whole.

Many brands decide they want a seamless experience.

Those that do tend to keep their e-commerce labeling identical to their brick & mortar labeling.

Some brands, however, use the opportunity to expand and differentiate—for example, they may do something along the lines of keeping their label colors similar, but changing up the shape or style of print for their online orders.

Experimentation, and close and careful monitoring of results, can contribute to increased customer retention and sales.

Experimentation doesn’t mean throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. Brand-owners can’t very well change label designs as they would their socks.

There are monetary and human resources involved in bringing any label iteration, however slightly different from an existing one, into fruition.

Experiments need to be controlled—in this case by experience. As with brick-and-mortar marketing, there’s a science to this, one with do’s and don’ts that lead to likelier e-commerce successes.

Here, working in close consultation with an experienced label manufacturer can pay off in spades.

Label experts have a great deal of experience in product personalization, customization and premiumization and, as far as e-commerce goes, have the lay of the cyber-landscape enough to know what typically works and what usually doesn’t.

We think it’s an investment worth making. Brands that research and respect their customers’ values and interests are best positioned to create labels that provide portable yet representative brand experiences and, through them, customer loyalty.

Businesses aren’t built on one-off sales—they’re built on repeat patronage; that notion is no less true online than in-store.

Packaging labels can help create a lasting first impression, and the colors, shapes and printing techniques chosen can communicate many of the important values and qualities that a brand is trying to espouse and evoke.

Although the product ultimately has to prove itself, labels that reflect a brand’s personality can actually provide an emotional lift that enhances customers’ overall experience.

Provide this lift, and your sales can really take off.

Consider one of our favorite tools here at Jet Label: Mosaic Printing.

Mosaic is short for HP SmartStream Mosaic, which can create countless unique-to-unit labels from a finite number of original designs.

Despite the nuanced characteristics of products constructed with Mosaic, the overarching brand concept remains paramount, so it has a twofold function of ‘uniquifying’ products to make consumers feel special while differentiating a brand’s product from competitors—all while staying true to overall brand consistency.

On store-shelves, the result is a vibrant “different yet consistent” feel that stands out from competitors without being ostentatious. For e-shippers, the specialty the process delivers complements the “just for me” feeling we all get when opening a mail-order package.

There are an abundance of tools and techniques to utilize, and experienced label printers can help companies ask the right questions and do the necessary soul-searching about the image and message they are trying to convey.

Consideration, for instance, needs to be given to design, color, font and stock material.

Some newer techniques include standout graphic design utilizing new tactile coatings and ink effects, as well as the use of complementary flexo and digital print systems to deliver short runs of customized packs.

At Jet Label, we’ve seen increased requests for more personalized brand labels, and for adding sleeves to e-commerce boxes for both personalization and name recognition.

For in-store, we’ve seen an uptick in customer requests for specialized packaging that attracts consumers with sight, touch and engagement through the use of unusual varnishes and substrates.

Sometimes these sensory experiments take place in unusual and very surprising places.

One of our customers, a producer of protein groceries (meats and dairy products), decided to forego their use of basic, plebeian labels, and transitioned into pretty, shiny labels.

Lo and behold, their proteins have enjoyed a sizable increase in market share and revenue, and they have become loyal repeat customers of these ‘special effects’ labels.

It’s clear that bottom line, e-commerce and brick & mortar packaging strategies work best when they are strategically aligned.

The good news is that much of today’s advanced technology can beautify both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar packaging expediently and cost-effectively, and there is growing recognition of the importance of labeling as a valuable branding customer retention tool.

When companies turn their attention to e-commerce they need to incorporate lessons learned from their brick-and-mortar successes. Customers are much more responsive to packages and labels featuring bold and attractive designs that tell a brand story.

The e-commerce revolution presents a wonderful opportunity for brands to strengthen their bond with customers and engender a feeling of warmth and connection that will make them return again and again.


Darrell Friesen is president and chief executive officer of Jet Label & Packaging Ltd., a full-service labeling technologies provider headquartered in Edmonton.


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