How Beautiful Packaging Can Lead to Seventh Level Engagement

The Seventh Level

As a brand consulting firm, our emphasis at CatalystCreativ generally leans toward design and production of experiences, campaigns, brand launches and relaunches, and websites—things like that. But our Seventh Level Engagement Framework absolutely can be applied to just about anything, like, say custom product packaging!

To find out more about how the Framework looks through the lens of custom packaging, we chatted with Phillip Akhzar, CEO & Founder of Arka, a custom packaging company. We really enjoyed our conversation and hope you do too!

Why is it important for companies to ensure their physical branding is prioritized, in addition to their digital branding?

Many people today have a misconception that digital branding has replaced physical branding, which is wrong. Digital marketing is a new addition to the age of the internet. And while it is impossible to ignore the huge market of users who are active digitally, physical and digital marketing work side-by-side for companies. Many brands like Apple have loyal customers with their heart and mind held by the way Apple has designed its packaging, their keynote speeches, the popular Lisa and Rebels TV ads—all the way up to today’s iPhone. Digital marketing has a fraction of this impact in branding for Apple.

The first level of engagement is disengagement—where your audience is totally disinterested. How can custom packaging combat disengagement?

The audience is disinterested when there is no perception of the brand. At this level, the brand needs to create its perception and strengthen its value. With customized packaging, adding something as little as a logo, tagline, or mascot creates brand awareness among people. It ultimately leads to brand recognition and recall, and attracts the customer towards the brand’s products. Would you buy something you didn’t know anything about or at least recognize? 

The second level of engagement is called unsystematic engagement—where your audience feels confusion over your messaging. Can custom packaging help with a customer’s potential confusion?

Whether in digital or physical branding, the brand should use precise and uncomplicated language that is easily understandable. It helps the brand connect with the audience and create a clearer image. Yes, if custom packaging is done in such a way that customers can relate to it, it definitely helps clear out any potential confusion. Especially since this is a great opportunity to use visual messaging versus simply text. Sometimes showing what a product looks like tells a story better than a description of it ever could.

Level three, frustrated engagement, is where you have your audience’s interest, but they become distracted and you lose it. How can custom packaging prevent distraction when interacting with a product?

Customers need something unique to latch onto as we move towards niche purchasing trends, rather than broad products that cater to everyone. So, to grab a customer’s attention you have to be innovative. If the product’s custom packaging makes it stand out from the crowd then definitely it will prevent a customers becoming distracted.

Level four is structure-dependent engagement, where your audience is willing to do what you ask, assuming that the barrier to action is low. How can custom packaging lead to small actions on the part of your customers?

At level four clients need an answer to the question: “why is it necessary to buy this product?” By adding engaging images and short catchy content on your packaging, you offer a little something to persuade the buyer to make a purchase.

Level five is self-regulated interest, where a customer is excited about your messaging because they are getting something in return. How can custom packaging be utilized for something like sweepstakes or giveaway?

Brands do sweepstakes or giveaway to strengthen their relationship with their target audience. Generally, brands do this for their marketing and promotion. Brands have the opportunity to use their packaging as a landscape for promoting sweepstakes and giveaways—and a memorable lasting impression will generate leads. Even something as simple as opening up the box to some AR code can be highly effective. 

Level six is what’s called critical engagement. At this level, your audience is inspired by your message to make a change in their own lives. What are some examples of how custom packaging can help a brand’s message resonate with a customer, and drive change in their lives? (i.e.—a brand selling an eco-friendly product uses eco-friendly packaging, that instructs the customer to try to reuse the box in some way.)

To incentivize your customers, you need to give a little extra. You can continue your communication with customers, even after they have opened your package. This can be in the form of something like handwritten notes, or customer testimonials. By continuing your story inside of your package, you can add a personal touch to help customers feel valued and special. 

The seventh—and highest!—the level of engagement is what we call “literate thinking.” It’s where your brand’s mission perfectly aligns with that of your audience. How can custom packaging lead to a seventh level of branding experience? (i.e.—a person who’s a diehard loyal, a fan of Patagonia receives a Patagonia-branded box in the mail, and is immediately over the moon about it, and shares a photo of the box on their social channels)

We call this the “doorstep experience.” Seeing your package waiting for them at their door is like an appetizer for your customers before they taste the meal. The brand should personalize the unboxing experience for their customers. This means, along with its logo and other details, the brand should print the name of the person and include a sweet, warm message for them. Customers will feel honored and will share the package’s picture among their social circle—which, ultimately will increase brand awareness. Next thing you know, other people want in on that experience!

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