While on vacation, I read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  I was fascinated, learning about rapid cognition – snap decisions our brains make, without conscious thought.

Our brains sift through the sum total of our experience and knowledge and come up with an immediate opinion or answer when confronted with something new. An interesting case study in the book (p. 161-163) was about a tale of two brandies. Brandy A was the well established, dominant brand, yet Brandy B was outselling it.  Why?   Brandy A was packaged in a plain bottle, Brandy B was in an ornate bottle.  Several tests were conducted, each with a new group of tasters. They discovered:

  • In a blind taste test people liked both brands almost equally.
  • When informed of the brand names, Brandy A came out on top.
  • When the bottles were visible, Brandy B was the favorite.
  • When Brandy A was poured from the ornate bottle and Brandy B from the plain bottle, Brandy A was favored by the biggest margin of all the tests.

This research showed that Brandy A had a positive name association.  Yet people preferred Brandy B  with the ornate bottle, rather than the plainer bottle of Brandy A.  The packaging trumped the positive name association. Brandy A had the better name recognition and adequate taste – but the plain package hurt them.  Once they redesigned the packaging to be more ornate, their sales went up again.

All this got me to thinking about the importance of packaging.  Even with a great product, if the packaging is poor, sales will suffer.  What does this tell us?  If we have a quality product, we better have quality packaging!

I recently received a priority mail box containing a new bead purchased from Kim of Bluff Road Art Glass.  I opened the package and nestled inside the tissue was a purple box with a logo sticker on the cover, tied with a nice bow made of  twine.   Inside the box was tissue and inside the tissue was  my new bead, carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and tied to a tag with string.  The experience of opening the lovely package only served to make the beautiful bead feel even more special.

Bluff Road packaging

For my birthday, I received a very big box with a large “Vera Bradley” signature logo on top. Inside, lots of tissue, fastened with an embossed signature logo sticker. The gift receipt was not just thrown into the box, but tucked into a small decorative envelope.  Inside was a lovely quilted bag.  Being made of cloth, they could very well have folded the bag and shipped it in a smaller box – but it would not have had the same impact.  Again, the details were so thoughtfully done it made the gift feel very special.

Has anyone ever received a gift from Tiffany?  The robin’s egg blue box.  The wide satin ribbon.  The tissue.  The gift, secured in  a midnight blue suede box or a robin’s egg blue felt bag.  The brand association is instantaneous as soon as one sees the box color.  The contents never disappoint.

What kind of packaging has made an impact on you?  A future post will discuss what we need to think about when choosing packaging.  It’s all part of branding, which is so important for marketing.

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2 Responses to Branding

  1. Dee July 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm #


    you are so right. Branding is so important with a business. I’ve been back and forth with my packaging, trying to get the right fix for the right amount to charge for shipping. Right now, I’m pretty satisfied, but I’ve been ordering a few things from Etsy, and getting a few ideas from some of the things I’ve received. A well packaged order, says a lot about a business. Recently read a post where someone received their order wrapped in newspaper, to say the least she wasn’t happy about it, and I don’t think I’d be either.

  2. Maria July 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    Wrapped in newspaper! I wouldn’t like that either – we’re talking handcrafted items, not day old fish, LOL. My idea of a pretty package is an abundance of tissue, a pretty box and bow – and of course consistent branding.

    I find this topic of branding fascinating and am researching a bit more to share here.