CAP Blog Function Junction A 1

Function, should we talk at this junction?

“Functionality of packaging” have to be the three of the most boring words strung together, rivaling the likes of Scale-free Degree Distribution and Quantitative Research Analysis. Yet, a keen eye and curious mind can look past this mundane phrase and discover that it stands for something more.

The original function of a package is to [add word] deliver goods from point A to point B. The operable word could be safely, securely, responsibly, quickly, efficiently or attractively. It could be all of these. “Functionality of packaging” becomes much more interesting in a hurry when you begin to look at it through the lens of the above adjectives.

Take Schwinn bikes, for example, and the variety of products manufactured in multiple countries, packaged, shipped and sold in a large variety of retailers. The skus vary from a bike helmet to a simple boxed tube to a comlex bike pump that needs to stand, hang and present the Schwinn brand for all its history and heritage.

The functionality of the package goes far beyond just the delivery of goods. It needs to stand out and represent this brand to a new, young audience each year as they visit a Target or Walmart and purchase their first bike and bike helmet. Safety PSA; please don’t forget the helmet. Then, after the purchase, it needs to slip back into the recycling stream to serve another purpose.

Before the Schwinn team called on Capsule to help craft this new packaging, the previous owners of this brand were what we in the business call “Brand Abusers.” They were using lead eyelets in horrible, ugly plastic packaging and leaving shoppers with the impression that Schwinn was merely interested in pedaling its wares and didn’t truly care whether or not this packaging could be a piece of a momentous experience like shopping for your first bike.

The new leadership team came in and showed how much a proper brand owner should care about the product, package experience and buyer. We elevated the functionality by getting back to the history and purpose for this bike in kids' lives, resulting in great financial results for retailers and partners, and more importantly, great commentary from parents. Even functionality and brand heritage can be interesting.

Schwinn pump

Now consider functionality when looking at the packaging of Smartwool socks. It was designed so you, new to downhill skiing, renting boots and skis, might be able to try on a few pairs of very comfortable wool socks before getting out on the slopes. And, if you don’t buy all seven pairs, the rest can go back in the package to be sold to the next shopper. Yes, you might be wearing socks someone else’s stinky feet tried on, knowledge is a fickle thing.

Smartwool socks three close

This important packaging functionality exists not so ski resorts can sell “used” socks, but so you as a skeptical shopper have access to the experience of trying on merino wool socks and discovering how you should be treating your feet. This piece of packaging functionality was way out in front of all sock brands which still use a swift tack (small piece of plastic) to secure the socks to the package, allowing Smartwool to take a dominant share of the market, upwards of 70% of wool ski socks , very quickly.

So, now what do you think about “functionality of packaging”? I know, it surprises us too, but recognizing and internalizing this important lesson is one of the reasons Capsule has succeeded in our creative efforts over the past two decades, and cemented our place as one of the best branding agencies in town.

If you’re looking to elevate the functionality of your packaging design, the email is the easy part, just click here and enter a name and email address.

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Categories Branding, Packaging

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