Storytelling is one of the most frequently talked about marketing strategies today, but it's rarely discussed in conjunction with packaging solutions. However, packaging could be an ideal way to make your brand's story truly come to life in the hands of the consumer and extend the power of your marketing programs.

The power of storytelling

There's a reason marketers talk about storytelling: It has an impact on the brain that informs the way customers perceive information. Since the same thing can occur when people handle certain textures, it stands to reason that packaging and storytelling can also work usefully together.

Studies have found that evocative language makes more regions in the brain light up. A 2006 study published in the journal Neuroimage found reading words like "perfume" and "coffee" caused the olfactory cortex, the region of the brain associated with smell, to light up. Odor-neutral words like "key" didn't have the same effect. Using the right words could create a deeper sensory experience with packaging.

Use all the space

Companies can use the space available on their packaging to continue larger campaigns or brand stories that are going on online or on TV. Great packaging copy, especially when combined with packaging effects, could have a significant impact on consumers handling the packaging. However, great writing is just one part of brand storytelling. Packagers also have design, structure, color and overall appearance at their disposal to make their brands come alive.

Using packaging as a storytelling tool doesn't mean using the panel space to write a novella. Instead, packaging space and shape can be used to symbolically represent the brand's identity. Packaging World pointed to Evian bottled water as an example. In 2013, the brand revised its packaging to reflect the purity of its water - the first time it had updated the look in 14 years, The Dieline wrote. The bottle is now sleeker and more minimalist with a clear label that makes it appear cleaner.

Go beyond the package

One of the best ways to connect custom packaging to your brand's message is to harness the digital space. QR codes and augmented reality technology use the package to extend the customer's experience with the product and brand.

Coca-Cola's Share a Coke campaign is a good example of this approach. The company put great effort into the campaign, printing the top 250 most popular first names for teens and millennials on its labels. The labels also encouraged customers to share images of the bottles online with the #shareacoke hashtag. The campaign creators hoped customers would not only share pictures of the products, but also share moments of their lives.

Share a Coke makes the brand's story even more powerful by including the stories of its customers. In a company blog, Jennifer Healan, group director of integrated marketing content and design at Coca-Cola North America, said the company wanted to focus on "celebrating real moments of sharing and the stories behind them."

Packaging helps brands extend their storytelling in a more tangible way to reach the consumer, whether it's through compelling copy, great packaging design or digital strategy.

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