You’ve spent months or years developing and perfecting a fantastic product and then you’ve spent hours mulling over the size, shape and colour of the box, tin, glass, carton or bag. But once the bright colours, creative logo and aesthetically pleasing shape has drawn the potential customer towards the shelf (the point of purchase), they’ve done their job. It’s once your product is in their hands, that the buying decision is made. A great product and equally great packaging design needs great copy. It’s the packaging copywriting that provides the customer with the relevant information, the reasons for buying and ultimately the reassurance that they’re making the right choice. Effective packaging copywriting delivers the core message and the brand personality at the point of purchase.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s use a box. You’ve got six sides, most of which will be taken up with design, product name, logo, instructions, barcode, disclaimers, ingredients, warnings and any other information required. The size and positioning of all this will dictate how much space there is for the copy. As well as working in isolation, each panel has to work in combination. Before you start writing, ask yourself how much of the packaging will be visible on the shelf? What will the customer see first? How will the packaging appear in a display with multiple items? How will it compare with competitor products nearby? It’s important to remember that, once removed from the shelf, your product can be viewed from any angle, making each panel of your box equally important.
Each of the panels has a different role to play. Traditionally, you want the messaging on the front of the box to create a presence on the shelf and get straight to the point, so aside from the product name and logo, it needs a short strapline or some bullet points that focus on the key benefits or differentiators from competing products. The copy should speak directly to the consumer as an individual (avoid using ‘we’ and ‘our’) and make an emotional connection (excitement, amusement, relief) that nudges them towards the checkout. Tell them what the product will do for them or how it will make them feel. The reverse panel will usually provide a list of specifications or ingredients. This is where you can cleverly and subliminally place any brand messaging.
Packaging comes in sorts of shapes and sizes but here are a few tips for those looking to write their own packaging copywriting.
- Firstly, define the aims and objectives of the copy and gather all required information.
- A consumer profile will help you understand their purchasing motives and the language they use.
- If you already have them, be consistent with your brand identity and tone of voice.
- Address each panel individually before connecting them at the end.
- Spatial awareness. Get a word count and keep your writing clear and concise.
- Choose your approach. What angle are you going to come from?
- Make a list of keywords (especially adjectives which elicit the emotions you want to evoke).
- Talk to the consumer as an individual. It’s all about them.
- Include bullet points to provide a list of any secondary benefits or important features.
- It’s often easier to write a slightly longer description and edit it to the correct length.
I have created straplines and written copy for all types of product packaging. If you would like to discuss a packaging project with an experienced packaging copywriter, please contact me.