Unboxing for Brands: How to create an amazing custom packaging experience for any time of the year

While our world becomes increasingly digital with stay-at-home orders and safety concerns, this only makes a physical, in-person experience with a brand even more special.

Taking a generic approach to eCommerce orders with plain packaging makes your brand more easily forgettable. The solution to this? A customized unboxing experience.

An unboxing experience is unique in the sense that it’s a one-on-one experience with a captive audience: your customer. This means you’re not competing with other businesses for their attention in the way you do with your marketing efforts online. If you pull out all the stops, it’s a guaranteed way to win their love and loyalty.

As well as this, an unboxing experience is linked to the ritual of gift-giving and creates the same excitement people feel while unwrapping a present, which is exactly the kind of feeling you want to inspire no matter whether it’s the holiday season or an average weekday. Not sure where to begin? Here’s how to go beyond a purchase and create a retail experience through your brand’s unboxing.

#1 Start with your end goal in mind.

First, you need to decide what strategic outcome you want from your unboxing experience as a brand. What is the desired effect you want to have on the customer: is it a shareable, social media-worthy experience that is photographed or videoed, emphasizing your brand’s personality and business story for better recognition and loyalty, or is it something that they can keep in use and gift on to others for a specific festivity? Whatever you decide on will determine which is the best custom packaging route to go down and get the impact you’re after.

For example, Kat Schneider has created these meaningful custom cards to go out with every order that her customers can use to give some words of appreciation with someone they love. As an illustrator, a card is the perfect canvas to showcase her design work in a unique and original way and helps her brand reach a wider audience outside of her original customer.

kat schneids custom packaging


#2 Get creative with your packaging.

Plain packaging is a missed opportunity for brands because there are so many elements at your disposal to make your unboxing experience unique. Businesses now have the ability to customize tissue paper, mailer bags, box, tote bags, tape, stickers, stamps, cards, and more.

After you’ve determined your strategy, get creative with your packaging and select a combination of one, two or many of these elements to truly deliver on a special unboxing.

Take The Kind Curator. The brand creates curated, wellness-inspired gift boxes, so their unboxing experience has to be of a high caliber. To make it a beautiful experience for customers and encourage them to share it on social, they’ve used a combination of custom tissue paper, a sticker featuring their logo, and a custom card that tells the story behind their business. These different elements work together to show their brand’s personality, while also adding the wow factor.

the kind curator custom packaging


#3 Decide on your visual design.

The visual elements of your custom packaging design are a make or break for a great unboxing experience. After all, research shows that when looking at something, 90 percent of the information sent to our brains is visual and we respond to it 60,000 times more than we do with text- which also speaks to the power of product reviews with photos (what our friends at Loox offer) but we’ll cover that in-depth another time ;).

If your objective is to have more brand recognition and loyalty, your visual design might feature your logo and brand colors prominently. If you want to have a better chance of customers sharing your unboxing experience on social media, then you could commission an eye-catching illustration, especially for your packaging.

Cousins Collective is a store that sells tattoo-inspired clothing and accessories. To emphasize their brand identity, they chose a design for their tissue paper that’s a repetition of their brand name and logo in several colorways.

custom packaging cousins collective


There’s also the option of doing a festive design for the holidays, which will surprise and delight your customers. Choose a packaging provider with low Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) so that you have the right order quantity and don’t wind up with excess Christmas-themed packaging.

For the visual design of Laura Lhuillier’s tissue paper, she did a festive twist on her usual branding by featuring reindeers, Christmas trees, and presents.

Laura Lhuillier custom packaging


#4 Personalize the experience.

One advantage smaller to medium businesses have over big-box retailers is that they can connect with customers and show that there’s a human behind their brand, who often wears many hats.

Take advantage of this by making your unboxing experience feel more thoughtful and personalized to the customer. Include something unexpected in your unboxing experience besides the product that adds value and shows your generosity.

This could be some free product, a discount code to encourage them to re-spend with you, or something that tells a story that shows them there’s a human on the other end of this experience – and that the product didn’t come straight off of a production line.

Joanne Hawker creates cards, gifts and other accessories. In her unboxing experience, she includes a custom card with a photo of herself and some of the product she makes, complimenting the customer and thanking them for spending with a small business.

custom packaging Joanne HAwker


Pro tip:

You can make these personalized experiences have a long-lasting positive impact beyond just unboxing. By encouraging your happy customers to document their unboxing experience, by sharing photo-based reviews of their purchase, you can build trust, brand awareness, and sales from a single experience. Many merchants are using Loox to automate the entire review collection and display process- enabling them to easily showcase their beautiful custom packaging and happy customers across their website and social media channels.

#5 Remember product (and packaging) presentation.

Once you’ve made all of your other unboxing considerations, the final step is to ensure the end result with the customer happens as you’ve visualized it.

The arrangement of the different elements in the box and the way you wrap up your package is vital. You want to ensure all the key information is visible from the moment your recipient opens the package, so they know who has crafted this unboxing experience for them.

The product and other packaging elements also need to be carefully arranged so it looks polished instead of messy.

By Indeko sells handmade jewelry made by people with a disability. They’re huge advocates for diversity and inclusion, so they’ve highlighted their strong branding and mission statement on their custom box to be visible from the moment the customer opens it.

Their products and custom care items also neatly arranged within the box, showing that the brand has taken the time and care to craft this beautiful unboxing experience, right down the details.

custom packaging byindeko


#6 Bonus tip: don’t forget about sustainability.

While packaging is the main factor that leads to an incredible unboxing experience, it’s also one of the worst contributors to waste during the holidays and in general (as many stores move to being eCommerce focused).

It’s estimated that Americans throw away an extra 25 million tonnes of garbage around Thanksgiving and Christmas, with wrapping paper and ribbon some of the worst contributors.

As well as this, poly mailer bags commonly used to ship eCommerce orders out are made of plastic and take hundreds of years to decompose, leaching out harmful chemicals in the process.

There’s no need to play a part of this problem as a brand when there are affordable, accessible, and sustainable custom packaging options on the market. Look for packaging materials for your unboxing that are made of recyclable, reusable or compostable materials, such as eco-friendly tissue paper or a recycled or compostable mailer bag.

Totum Women creates products for new mothers, such as lactation cookies. They ship their orders out in a compostable mailer bag and show who the parcel’s from by adding a custom, compostable sticker with their brand name to it.

totum women custom packaging


One perk of making the switch to sustainable options for packaging is you can communicate to customers you’ve made this choice to be respectful of the environment, and they’ll respect you all the more for it.

We hope these tips help you to craft an amazing unboxing experience! Best of luck for the continually busy months ahead and remember that with more people shopping online than ever, it pays to think about turning purchases into retail experiences.