Most every product and many services are presented to the buyer with some form of packaging – this packaging could be very elaborate or as minimal as a tag. Manufacturers of consumer packaged goods (CPG’s) have known for years that a effective package may mean the difference between making a sale or losing it to their competitors as well as the price(profit) they receive from the sale. Selling art is no different and you can benefit from effective packaging.
Some time ago I was talking to a successful ceramic artist about how he packaged and delivered his work to his customers. Typically his works were quite large, expensive and sold to upscale / well to-do customers. When asked how he packaged his creations he responded, “I just find an old box that clay came in, put the piece in it and deliver it to the client.” Let me get this right, you invested hours of your time to create a great piece of art, sold it to your customer for a good sum of money and delivered it to their door in an old dirty beat up box – what is this saying about you and your brand? A good package can say a lot about you and your brand!
Packaging is not just about having a container for your art. Packaging serves many purposes and here are just a few:
- Protect the art during handling and shipping
- Identify the art as to model, type and price
- For products that are sold in larger retailers there may be a UPC or bar code.
- Provide contact information about the artist and/or distributor(phone, web address, email…)
- Packaging gives you the opportunity to tell your story and possibly promote other products
- Provide more information about the product such as benefits and features
- Quality and unique packaging may be saved and possibly used to keep the work (in the case of jewelry)
There is an old saying that you don’t judge a book by its cover – people buy books everyday based on the cover and jacket (packaging for books)! Here are some ways in which packaging affects a buyer in choosing and purchasing a product:
- Packaging IS a part of your brand experience
- Packaging can add value to your art and affect the price you can charge
- Packaging will help your art stand out from your competition
- Packaging can help increase your arts value long after the sale
An Examples of Packaging – One Great, One Not So Great
A few years ago I purchased a laptop computer after looking at the various models that were on display. When I made my choice the salesperson went into the back of the store and brought out the laptop packaged in a plain brown cardboard box. The box had some printing on the outside to identify the model number and the manufacturer and not much else – not very impressive by any standards.
When I got the laptop home I removed the box and found the laptop wrapped in a clear plastic bag with a stack of printed materials clearly visible underneath. Upon opening the plastic bag I had to wade through several promotional offers before I got to the handy 10 page “Quick Start Guide” – not a great brand experience or great packaging experience as well!
Ok, now fast forward to a gift I received knowing that there was a high probability that it was an iPad. I wanted the iPad knowing that I would need it to test the Apple version of my book and use it to teach my Artrepreneurship class instead of hauling around my “boat anchor” of a laptop.
The gift was wrapped in holiday paper and as I unwrapped it I was pleasantly surprised. This was my first Apple product and I had never stepped foot in an Apple store so I didn’t know what to expect. Here is what is experienced:
- A beautiful white box with a mostly profile view of the iPad (more on this later)
- On two of the sides were the words iPad, one end had the Apple logo, and on the opposite end was a small graphic of a cloud with the word iCloud. On the bottom of the box were a couple of labels identifying the model number, features of the model I had received and the normal bar code information.
As I opened the box all I could see was the iPad waiting for me. As I removed the iPad from the box there was a plastic tray underneath with a nice little box with the words “Designed by Apple in California” and what appeared to be the charger. As I removed the little box and the charger my first reaction were: Where is the plastic bag?, Where are the instructions ?, Is this all?, Did they forget something? I tried to remove the plastic try thinking that they must be hiding the information I needed underneath. I quickly became apparent that the tray was not meant to be removed.
As I mentioned above there was a packet or small “mini” box in the tray. Here is what I found:
- A quick reference card with an image of the iPad and some text showing me where I could find the On/Off switch, the Silent switch, the Volume Up/Down control and the Home button – that’s it! On the back were three sections: Welcome to iPad, Learn More and Get Support – all on a beautifully printed on a 5” x 3-1/4” card.
- A little booklet with small printing labeled “Important Product Information Guide” with information on the warranty, product safety designations and helpful tips such as don’t use the iPad while driving!
- Two Apple decals that I could use to help spread the Apple brand.
The Bottom Line
I had a great product experience that began once I unwrapped the gift that continued as I unpacked the box. The quality of the packaging was first rate down to the design of the graphics, the printing and the actual packaging materials themselves – it just followed that if the packaging was this good the iPad would not disappoint!
More on the graphics. The top of the box has an image of the iPad shown mostly in profile or viewed from the edge. Usually you will find that most packaging shows the product with a straight on perspective.
What was Apple up to? I quickly remembered that when Steve Jobs was unveiling this new iPad, all he could talk about was “how thin” it was – the profile image was designed to support and showcase its “thinness”. On one of the ends of the box was a graphic with a little cloud and the words “iCloud”, another of the features Steve Jobs was highlighting.
Apple’s packaging supports its brand, highlights its quality, supports the product’s selling points and gives a real sense of value. Think of how you can use packaging with your art. Packaging doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate to be effective and help you to sell your art and build your brand – you just need to be creative!
In Packaging for Artists : Build Your Brand and Your Profits – Part II we will take a look at some ideas and resources for packaging your art.
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business. He has developed and teaches the course Artrepreneurship at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver teaching Marketing for the Arts. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations and is a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy. He is also the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Neil also consults with artists and arts organizations on business planning and marketing. Neil can be reached at http://creativesandbusiness.com/contact/