When one of the world’s richest men, Bernard Arnault, set his sights on Tiffany’s he wasn’t actually as interested  in its products as he was in its iconic packaging. The owner of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy was ready to shell out over $16 billion for the robin’s egg blue boxes. 

Functions of packaging

You might still believe that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, but your customer certainly doesn’t think so. Packaging reveals a lot about a brand. Let’s take a look at some of the most important functions of packaging in terms of brand identity.

Last week I was in a grocery shop for some cooking oil. There were two options given to me by the shopkeeper. On checking out both products, I couldn’t ascertain the manufacturing date of one and so went ahead with the other. Communicating about a product clearly in the packaging goes a long way in cementing the sincerity of the brand towards a customer and is vital in converting a potential buyer into a seller.

In today’s crowded marketplace, it is not enough to just place a great product on the shelves. That’s where packaging can help by making it stand out among a multiplicity of competitors. Ever wondered why you reached across a shelf to check out a product you didn’t know anything about? It’s because the packaging appealed to you.

After you have caught the customer’s eye, comes the part where you convince her to buy the product. It’s very important to know your target group at this point. Is your energy drink aimed at a teenager or a young adult? The packaging must convey to the TG in a compelling way that this product is the best choice for someone in their demographic.

How would you feel if the crockery you bought for a dinner party broke on your way home from the store? Protecting the product’s integrity is perhaps the most important function of packaging for fragile and perishable goods. In fact, a brand could go the extra mile and provide a casing that’s reusable — it’s a small investment compared to the lifelong endearment to the brand that the consumer might feel.

Let’s quiz your brain for a moment. What’s the similarity between a can of Amul Spray milk powder for babies and Rajanigandha pan masala? Answer: Both have spoons inside. It’s not uncommon to find that a person prefers a certain brand of ketchup just because it has a small tear at the side that makes it easy to open.  

Simple ways to hack the packaging problem

How many times have you picked up a box of Cadbury Celebrations while on your way to meet a young niece or nephew? You might have also picked it up as an add-on gift for a birthday. Making your packaging gift ready gives your product an extra chance to be bought.  

With consumers becoming environmentally conscious, it’s important to keep track of what’s going into your packaging. Using too much non-biodegradable material is a strict no-go for a brand trying to attract the woke consumer.

ITC’s classmate range of notebooks were a rage when they came out. Of course, the quality of the pages was great but they were also priced higher. The nudge to ignore the cost-quality trade off for many consumers was the prompt on the back cover — the company would donate a rupee for educating underprivileged children for every notebook sold. In a way it co-opted the consumer into the company’s do-good mission.

Just slapping the logo of your brand on the packaging isn’t enough to maintain a singular brand identity across products. While the range of products might be as different as chalk and cheese, they need to be unified with a consistent template in terms of packaging.   


According to famous designer and author Robert Brunner, “Everything you do creates the brand experience. Ergo, design is your brand.” Since the first point to contact between the customer and the brand is packaging, its design holds the key to how the relationship between the two will evolve — or not. While such a branding stunt can’t probably be pulled of large scale and over a period of time, it’s important to veer off the beaten track and wow your customers once in a while with an innovative packaging idea.  Moreover, as social media platforms become more ingrained in our lives, we are all becoming hyperlocal influencers. Creating a packaging experience that’s appealing could push a customer to project it on their timelines and save quite a lot of branding dollars for a company.

written by Shreesh Shankar