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3 Ways to Incorporate Branding in Your Packaging 

Consumers expect more from brands today than ever before. Not only does your company have to be accessible and inclusive, but it also has to be sustainable, support good causes, and help folks from all walks of life lead better, more fulfilled lifestyles.  

Meeting today’s expectations is a tall order and it’s little wonder that some brands have turned to deceitful tactics like greenwashing in an attempt to stand out from the crowd.  

However, before your company turns to the dark arts of marketing, it’s worth considering an often underutilized space: packaging.  

Benefits of Branded Packaging 

Branded packaging can strengthen your company’s brand image and improve customer loyalty. Customers have already decided to buy from you, and, in doing so, have effectively invited your brand into their homes.  

You can take advantage of this unique position by including thank you notes, freebies, and distinctly sustainable packaging, which may set your parcels apart from others. These tactics leave a lasting impression on consumers and ensure that the next time they are thinking about buying protein powder or a new t-shirt, they will remember your business and purchase from you again.  

Branding your packaging also gives you a chance to get your product in front of additional eyes. There’s nothing better than jealous neighbors eyeing up your company’s packaging, and seeing advertising material in the “real world” often stands out more than digital marketing materials. This works in your favor and is a great way to boost your company’s branding.  

Sustainable Packaging 

Being sustainable is top among many consumers’ priorities at the moment. However, as tempting as it may be, you should avoid greenwashing — a term used to falsely advertise or oversell your commitment to climate change. Inevitably, your audience will discover your true intentions and run from your business.  

A great way to prove your commitment to sustainability is to align with a packaging supplier that is authentically green and uses recycled materials for your boxing, taping, and insulation. 

Beyond using recycled materials, you can also design your packaging to be carbon neutral. Carbon neutral packaging might sound a little odd at first, but you can greatly reduce the carbon emissions needed for shipping and packaging by:  

  • Use the correct dimensions for each product in your package (cubes, telescopic, multi-height, etc.).  
  • Utilize sustainable raw materials like cardboards over plastics.
  • Partner with like-minded eco-friendly brands.
  • Remove excess layers from your packaging.
  • Try to recycle carbon-neutral packaging for future filler and tertiary packaging.  

By using recycled, carbon-neutral packaging, you show your consumers that your commitment to sustainability is authentic and a part of your entire corporate culture. This will help your climate-conscious consumers feel better about your brand the next time they’re tearing open boxes and will almost always reflect your business positively.  

Thank You Cards 

Although you should avoid filling your packaging with excess material, branded thank you cards go a long way toward improving your company’s image in the hearts and minds of your consumers.  

If you do wish to send a short “thank you” note to your consumers, it’s worth cutting out most/all of the promotional materials you usually send in packages. Not only will this reduce paper waste, but your “thank you” note won’t get lost amongst other advertising materials.   

When designing a business thank you card, try to focus on simplicity and style. Your thank you card should neatly align with your overall brand identity and should do little more than offer an authentic-sounding “thank you.” If you want, you can slip in a promotional code for future purchases to gain repeat customers, but be sure to complete a break-even analysis before you start taking a chunk out of your profit margin.  


Have you ever wondered why protein powder companies send freebies like t-shirts, shakers, and towels with their fitness product? Well, in effect, these extra goodies are free advertising and usually strengthen the company’s brand identity when worn by consumers.   

Even if your business isn’t in the fitness industry, you can still use freebies to strengthen your brand image and create greater loyalty amongst your customer base.  

The exact mechanics of how you offer freebies is largely dependent on context. You’ll need to complete a detailed cost analysis before you start shipping off expensive goods for free, and should try to target customers who are most likely to resonate with your brand image.   

Let’s stick with the fitness industry as an example of how you might use freebies:  If you sell supplements but notice that few of your customers buy your protein bars, then it may be worth packaging a free sample in every order you receive that is over $50. This approach has a few benefits. Folks who were at $48 or $49 will likely find another product to get their free protein bar, and you are more likely to sell additional products to consumers who already buy more expensive items from your business.  

This approach can work in almost any business model where you sell more than one product and is sure to get the attention of consumers. 

So, what did we learn here? We learned that packaging is often regarded as an afterthought amongst marketers and small business owners. But it shouldn’t be. Branded packaging offers an ideal advertising venue that will strengthen your brand identity and produce more repeat customers. Just remember to adjust your break-even analysis if you do go all-in on branded packaging, as you don’t want thank you cards and freebies to cut into your overall profit margin


Noah RueNoah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.

Business storytelling blunders to avoid at all costs, part III

Think of your favorite movie. I bet I know a lot about it without you naming it. Whether it’s a thriller, drama, romance or comedy, the protagonist spent the first half of the movie making mistakes, falling into traps, and perhaps even alienating people for good measure. Then, through a relationship, experience or chance encounter with another person, they were able to turn things around. Someone taught the hero how to fight, how to think, how to be a better version of himself, or something along those lines.

I also know you had more empathy for the protagonist than for the character who pointed the way. (Yes, storytelling is complex, so there are caveats, variations and nuances here that are too numerous to get into. But these general principles hold.)

My two most recent columns focused on the follies of bad narrative form and “overdog” protagonists. This final column will discuss the hero/guide dynamic introduced in Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller.

III. Fatal storytelling error #3: You want to be a hero, but heroes die young

Telling clients’ stories is better marketing than telling your own story for several reasons. For instance:

  • It’s more interesting: Someone who might fail is far more interesting than someone for whom success is a foregone conclusion (and if you haven’t already had some measure of success, why would anyone hire you?).
  • It’s unpretentious: Placing your customer at the center of your stories allows you to convey the impact of your work without sounding self-absorbed or salesy.
  • It’s more credible: Insecure, thin-skinned people talk a lot about themselves. You know this intuitively, and it can be a red flag. Remember that your success is ultimately dependent on helping other people succeed.

In Building a Story Brand, Miller explains it this way:

“If we are tempted to position our brand as the hero because heroes are strong and capable and the center of attention, we should take a step back. In stories, the hero is never the strongest character. Heroes are often ill-equipped and filled with self-doubt … They are often reluctant, being thrown into the story rather than willingly engaging the plot. The guide, however, has already ‘been there and done that’ and has conquered the hero’s challenge in their own backstory.”

Your clients and stakeholders should be your brand’s heroes. They should be at the center of your stories.

You are the guide.

You—the navigator, the veteran, the expert—provide the crucial help at the right time. But you don’t win the day for them. The paradox is that by assuming a less central role in the story, you actually make yourself more memorable.

In business, as is too often true in life, heroes die young.

Elevate your brand with stories, not “bories”

Revisit your company’s story and ask yourself the following questions:

  • If my marketing strategy were a screenplay, who would the opening scene focus on?
  • Are my heroes plausible and empathic—or are they brilliant problem solvers?
  • Do customers see themselves in the stories we tell?

Once you’ve considered these questions earnestly and acted on these insights, you will begin to elevate your story-based marketing.

John Garvey is a copywriter, marketing consultant and StoryBrand Certified Guide. Garvey helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs elevate their marketing through storytelling, humor, and clear strategic messaging.

Get a free copy of John’s marketing guide, 7-Point Checklist for Websites that Convert, by using this link or texting “Garvington” to 33777.