Storytelling on Packages: Invaluable ways to create a connection
Once upon a time…
How do you feel when you hear these words? Does it capture your attention? Does it make you sit straight and avoid other distractions? Sometimes, you might just switch off your phone too and take your mind away from the LED screens. Because, once you say ‘once upon a time’ it immediately triggers your synapses to await a good story.
Storytelling is forever. Starting from the days when Homer narrated the best epics by the fireside to the dashing Daniel Craig trailer that appears on your YouTube notification, the idea of a good story has always triggered off emotions, expectations and most of all… attention. So it is only natural that brand owners have invested hours in creating the best product stories be it on media, out of home and where it is most required…. on the packaging itself!
Think of the love that you show when you produce a product. And now think of it being amidst a thousand others on a shelf, standing there at the mercy of the consumer to get picked up. Think of all the uncertainties that lie ahead. Your consumer might or might not remember the TV ad that you have spent thousands for, she might have just missed the danglers that are hanging from the ceiling, and she might have been on phone when she walked by the poster that has been pasted outside. But in spite of missing all of it… there is still a chance that she will make a decision in your favor. Something happens, when she lays her eyes on the packaging that you have created.
Storytelling on packaging is an art that the best brand owners understand with ease and execute with passion. A classic case is Absolut Vodka, which made their liquor come alive with the background of the country and place from which it emerged in Limited Edition bottles.
Another classic case if Clearasil Squeeze – which created a story of the product benefit on the pack itself. Clearasil Squeeze was meant to clear your pimples, so the packaging designers created a pack, which allowed a user to physically, squeeze out the ‘pill’ from the pack.
In Japan, Coca Cola wanted to convey a message regarding sustainable energy. So it created a bottle made of biodegradable materials that would, with a single twist, would turn into something as thin as paper.
Today, the widespread use of Augmented Reality has ensured that stories no longer remain as a part of the package, but also emerge out of it in dynamic forms. Heineken beer came up with the Legendary 7 campaign, named after the seven farmers from Britain, the Netherlands, Greece, France and Germany who produce sustainable crops and barley for brewing Heineken beer, providing fans with the ability to engage with the brand beyond the bottle. Consumers were asked to scan the label, by doing so consumers could view an animated film featuring the farmers, learn each of their backstories, and take a “Legendary 7selfie,” which superimposed the user’s face over an image of one of the farmers in an amusing manner. The selfies could be shared across social media platforms thus creating a brand awareness and engagement with their customers.
Telling a product story is crucial in building a sustainable brand. It ensures that everyone who comes in contact with your product has a reason to believe in it. The methods can be multifold, for example a cartoons cape on the package, a dialogue from the brand owner presented in a speech bubble, a series of shots showing the people who really produced it, or just a simple paragraph on where it has come from.
For brands such as tobacco, which are not allowed to advertise, the idea of creating a one liner story inside the pack (as an addendum pack insert) often helps in building connections. Packaging designers have explored several such strategies – starting from offering augmented games on packages to creating an actual comic book on the cardboard boxes.