Posts Tagged ‘branding’


Unboxing a More Beautiful World

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

This article first ran in the December 2, 2015 issue of MediaPost’s MarketingDaily.

The plethora of YouTube videos and the celebrity status of popular unboxers has made unboxing a wildly popular topic. But in all the frenzy, and with all the eyeballs on the moment of opening a new product, there’s actually very little attention paid to the shipping box itself.

In today’s world of delivery overload, it’s time we reconsider the ordinary brown cardboard box, giving it a branded life of its own. After all, the moment of unboxing is a highly emotional experience, with anticipation and excitement making it feel like the opening of a very special gift. With growing opportunities in delivery and shipping to consumers this holiday season, shipping boxes could very easily become the last frontier of package design.

Package as “ad space”
The Minions’ Amazon takeover last spring proved this could be a new, viable revenue stream for the retailer, by using the shipping box as one would any other ad space. As an entry point for brands looking to reach a mass audience with ownable packaging, it’s a smart move given the popularity of online shopping. But is selling your box as an ad space to the highest bidder the best way to leverage this untapped blank canvas? The key is not just slapping on any ad willing to pay, but to elevate the role of shipping packaging to what it really is: The ultimate branded gift-wrapping experience.


Branded “wrapping”
Imagine a Chanel handbag arriving in a Karl Lagerfeld-designed shipping box, complete with a personalized note or preview of the new collection, or the next Dollar Shave Club kit arriving in a Shinola-designed box, bringing a new level of craftsmanship to the monthly delivery. The packaging space becomes much more appealing and important when it’s tied to the contents; either by creating a link between two like-minded brands, or by bringing elements of surprise and delight to the customer.

Geo-targeted, personalized packaging
If shipping is the new retail, then why shouldn’t shipping materials become more personal? With the ability to target by region, city and even zip code, a more targeted message can be delivered to areas or individuals. Supermarket deliveries from brands like Fresh Direct or Peapod could be wrapped with information about local events or promotions. Or, in advance of a special occasion like Mother’s Day, you could design the outer package of those chocolates you send to Mom. The trend of customization and personalization should find its way to the outside of your shipping box.

Limited edition packaging
Your shipping orders could even become a venue for special guest wrappers — celebrities, fashion designers, or luxury brands — to create a more premium feel and tap into the idea that anything “limited” is more desirable. Golden foil wrapping for the holidays, brought to you by Beyoncé, or a velvet-textured delivery for that special someone on Valentine’s Day, designed by a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Creating a tactile experience out of a regular cardboard box is one way to ensure the enjoyment of the gift inside.

Repurposed packaging
If you open your mind to the possibilities of design on the outside of a cardboard box, a future where these lovely boxes are repurposed and reused in many ways doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Boxes that have aesthetic appeal can be reused for another shipment, or something playful like a bookend, jewelry box, or even furniture. They could even have a modular function, morphing into various shapes and sizes, giving you endless possibilities, while being more eco-friendly.

While we’re still quite a ways away from eradicating the drab and boring cardboard box we’re all used to, the potential for infusing some design and aesthetic appeal is there. Imagine a world where the standard delivery truck is filled with an assortment of beautifully colored and wrapped gifts, or where garbage day in your local neighborhood suddenly looks like a roadside rainbow of carefully wrapped and branded packaging. I predict the careful reconsideration of the ubiquitous shipping box will bring a little more joy to shippers and receivers, while potentially inspiring less disposal and even more camera time.

Eva Rebek is director of design intelligence in Sterling’s New York office.


Sterling Buzz…

Monday, June 18th, 2012


Austin McGhie talks with and expounds on the points of his new book: Brand is a Four Letter Word.

Q. What are the biggest mistakes designers make when undertaking a branding project?

A. First, as I say in the book, unless you’re a rancher, there’s no such thing as branding. You can’t just brand something. The idea should never be used as a verb. Brand is the prize. The outcome. It’s a noun. The actual work—the verb, if you will—is positioning.

The biggest mistake designers make is starting any design project without fully understanding that position. Great brands, like great people, have a strong, clear point of view. A world view that is theirs and theirs alone. Understand that POV. Feel it. Explore it.

Then, and only then, go to work.

To read more of this Q and A on how positioning affects marketing and design, click here.


Sterling Buzz…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Check out Austin McGhie’s rant on ‘Branding’ in AdAge online this week!

To learn more and read more from Austin’s newly-launched book, Brand is a Four Letter Wordclick here.



Editor on the Run: Revisiting Brand Bible with Rockport Publishers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

A few months after the launch of Brand Bible, Rockport Publishers interviews Debbie about the process of putting this mammoth book project together and delves deeper into her thoughts on branding and package design…


Get the full story here.


The Power of the People

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Most people take well-designed products for granted and never question the poorly designed ones. Kathryn Spitzberg as part of the SVA Masters in Branding class found out one’s man quest to question all design. Kathryn had the opportunity to dig a bit deeper into the mind of Dan Formosa, co-founder of Smart Design. For the book Brand Bible, The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands, Dan talked in-depth about a brand he holds to the highest standards, OXO Good Grips. >>Read On



Sterling Buzz…

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Brand Thinking: And Other Noble Pursuits gets a write up in Forbes!

“The title of the book may lead people to dismiss it as another industry-insider perspective on “best business practices.” However, Brand Thinking, at its core, is a book about human nature, the need to belong, and a philosophical exploration into the reasons we behave the way we do…” >>Click Here to read the review


Want to check out the book for yourself? Head over to Amazon to pick it up!


Sterling Buzz…

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Below is an excerpt from Brand Thinking: And Other Noble Pursuits, the latest book by Debbie Millman. In this interview, recently reprinted in BrandPackaging, Debbie delves into mind of Phil Duncan, Global Design Officer of Procter & Gamble: (more…)


Mitsubishi: Nice Move, but not a Game Changer

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

If successful brands and their leadership have taught us anything, it’s that being the first to do something (and do it well) can catapult a brand ahead of the competition. Perhaps more than in any other industry, we need a giant leap forward in the realm of transportation, in terms of affordability and accessibility- but are the breakout ideas on alternative fuel really breakout anymore? What can make alternative transportation ‘Go’ already? (more…)


Sterling Buzz…

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Anticipation is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures… but we’re doubly excited that the waiting is over:

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits is officially in print!! (more…)


Crowdsourcing Innovation

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

For most brands, staying relevant means constantly pushing to evolve. Innovation plays a role in almost every modern brand, from paper towels to vacuum cleaners to mobile phones. And while most companies agree that innovation is vital to modern relevance, unique formulas for innovation differ widely. (more…)