Selling the experience.

So I was saying, before I was interrupted by all the peeing yesterday, that there were two groups of people in design school who consistently made us all look like chumps. One group was the toy designers. The other group were the packaging designers. Because if good packaging design didn’t matter, and more importantly, if it didn’t work, modern advertising would a seriously different thing. And as much as I don’t know too many people who are really fans of advertising per se, I don’t really know anyone who isn’t intrigued by interesting packaging.

See, a good package can make or break a product. It can make you choose one product over another. It can make you recommend things, when other things would work just as well. Just an example- I can remember when the flat-topped shower gel packaging started to hit the market.

shower gel

This particular brand (cheap though it is) happens to be my personal favorite. I like things that smell like grapefruit. But the point is the way the top of the bottle is designed. You can turn it upside down in the shower and leave it like that. Gravity, once your enemy in old packaging designs, suddenly becomes your friend! Even more awesome, you don’t have to fight with the bottle when you’re in the shower and wet (and things tend to slip out of your hands). This package *changes your experience*.

And let me tell you something. I said it in my last post and I will say it a thousand more times. SO MUCH of what (almost) *any* commercial  (hospitality, retail, restaurant, nightclub, cultural, event…) design project is about is selling an EXPERIENCE. Not just a *thing*. But moments in time as well. And the more it’s a thing you don’t *NEED*? The more important it is to package it in an intriguing way. Why? Because the longer you’re looking at it, the more you’re amused/interested/intrigued by it the more likely it becomes you’re going to part with your hard earned cash and walk away with it. The more likely you are to remember it, and tell other people. And so it goes. People remember the details. They remember the cool design of the hotel bath stuff. They remember the really pretty box their chocolates came in. They remember that time, when they bought whatever it was on ebay? And the seller was nice enough to take the time to wrap it up so it looked good. And boy oh boy people remember when you wrap the hell out of their gifts.

Okay, let’s look at another example (that I have stolen shamelessly from The Architect):

shamelessly stolen from Rob Annable

I’ll be honest- even after looking at the photos he posted after this one, I still have no flipping idea what the hell this thing is(I’m sure he’ll be along to tell me eventually), but I sure am curious, and I promise you I wouldn’t have been had whatever this is been posted in a plain brown box.

Though I am (undeniably) a big-picture, long game kind of girl, the truth is that the punch is in the details. You can’t ignore them. It is the difference between good and great; the difference between maybe and yes, and it’s something that drives good, tight design.

And *that* is what I learn from the packaging designers. The details matter, even for the big picture people.



  1. Mom’s reprographics company has started receiving paper in Sploxes (SPeed LOading boXES). In addition to being slick packaging, they ADVERTISE how slick the packaging is. The Sploxes have prominent printing touting their “2004 Intertech Techology Award for Innovative Excellence – GATF” and “2005 Performance Certified – Buyers Laboratory Inc. Lab Tested”.

    Vincent thinks they’re the coolest toy ever.

  2. oops, forgot the link

  3. Free stuff!

    Packaging approach was interesting, but perforated edge to text was unfortunately just a little to robust to open without damaging it.

    The Architect

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