Packaging and branding are two sides of the same coin.

Your product is fantastic. You want to speak to a particular type of person. So, you create packaging that speaks to them from the shelves. You choose colours, styles and design oh so carefully to say exactly what you want to, to exactly the right people.

However, the packaging that you see on the shelf is primary packaging, and it’s not the only packaging you’re going to need to choose. So, let’s take a closer look at the difference between primary and secondary packaging, and how you can use the latter to reinforce your branding.

What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Packaging?

The first thing we need to define is the difference between primary and secondary packaging.

Primary packaging is the packaging that touches the product and that is the last thing between the public and your product. So, an example of this would be a perfume bottle.

Secondary packaging is the next layer of packaging, which covers and protects the primary packaging. This, in the case of perfume, would be the box that the perfume bottle is packaged in.

Another example would be beverage cans, which are the primary packaging, and the box that they are sold in in, which is secondary packaging.

Secondary packaging is the second layer of packaging between end users and your product.

In some cases, secondary packaging won’t be seen by the end user – because it will be the box that your product is shipped to retailers in. But assuming that this is not the case, here’s how you can make secondary packaging work for you.

How to Design Brand Promoting Secondary Packaging

If your secondary packaging is the box, you ship it to stores in, there’s not too much scope to get creative with design. Particularly since there is legislation that dictates what has to go on those kinds of boxes. But most products have more than one layer of packaging.

That might be a box, a bag, a blister pack, or something else. That’s valuable real estate to promote your brand, so here are a few ideas about what you might consider when designing it:

Brand colors and images – make sure that your secondary packaging highlights the images, colours and styles you want to reinforce:

  • Brand colors and images – make sure that your secondary packaging highlights the images, colours and styles you want to reinforce
  • Useful information – secondary packaging usually has more space, so include dosage or use instructions, ingredients list or other information
  • Contact information, including your website and social media account handles – every opportunity you have to connect and engage is good!
  • Any internal programs you want to highlight – so if you support a particular cause or are members of a particular social or similar organization, include their logos on the packaging
  • Add some luxury – if you’re designing a luxury brand, you want your packaging to reflect that – so use high quality materials, and finishes like foil or embossed areas to make it feel more luxe
  • Highlight features, but keep it simple – you don’t want to cram too much onto your secondary packaging either, so try to keep it sparing, so what you do include really stands out

Why Packaging and Branding Are So Closely Linked

You might be wondering if your primary and secondary packaging design really matters. After all, you’ve got a great product that speaks for itself.

But, unless they’ve tried your product, consumers won’t know that just by looking at it on the shelf with all the other products. Sometimes, consumers are entirely price driven. So, unless you’re selling the cheapest product on the market, you won’t be able to sway them. But most people aren’t making budget products, so that doesn’t apply.

Everyone else probably has a target customer. You know how old they are, what gender they are, and where they shop. You have an idea of their education status, how many kids they probably have, and where they are most likely life.

When you are planning social media, content, and advertising campaigns, you will keep all of those traits at the top of mind. You should do the same when you design packaging.

Imagine, for example, that you are selling a high-end beauty product that appeals to women in their thirties and forties. You probably wouldn’t use the same bright colours that you would use for a product for teens and young adults. That’s because ladies in their thirties and forties are looking for quality products that deliver great results, rather than fun, funky (and cheap) options.

Your packaging speaks to people from the shelf. It tells your customers whether they should take a closer look. Everything from the color to the size, shape, graphics, and text content makes a difference, so if your prospective customers see secondary packaging first, make sure you spend extra time on the design.