Empowering brand love: Most packaging lives on a shelf. Great packaging lives on social media.

Robert Parker My role is a hybrid of creative direction and strategy. I approach creative from an aesthetic and analytical point-of-view and work through projects at every stage – from top-level thought leadership to concepting, positioning, direction, presentation, refinement, and rollout

Every brand knows that packaging is important. It helps define you in-store and it is often crafted to win those critical cross-shopping moments at retail — “do I buy this brand or that one?”

But it’s also important to also think about the role packaging plays after it’s purchased. The things that we buy become part of our daily lives and routines. From early morning coffee rituals to late-night snacking, packaging is often quietly at the center of our most cherished moments. In this way, packaging can be an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in places that websites and ad campaigns will never reach. 

So not only can great packaging create a positive experience of a brand, it can reinforce and elevate that experience until it becomes something bigger—something consumers love to come back to and share. 

This is exactly what we saw with our client, Dean’s Beans coffee. Dean’s Beans came to us with a fanbase of consumers who passionately loved the brand’s mission, coffee, and values. But as much as consumers loved these elements of the brand, the coffee bag itself (the part of the brand that consumers interacted with most often) was not connecting or building the relationship. 

On paper, the old packaging checked off the ‘right’ boxes: it used authentic imagery, a more premium palette, and space dedicated to the brand’s mission (the mission consumers loved). But on another level, the dark packaging felt somber and the burnt paper edges felt fake. While it protected the coffee inside, on the outside the packaging missed out on an opportunity to resonate and reflect the love of Dean’s consumers as they looked for the bag in-store or opened it as a part of their daily routine. 

When we redesigned the packaging, we treated the bag as one touchpoint that would lift the brand everywhere else. We saw the bag as a physical manifestation of the brand and its values—so we wanted the bag to sync up with consumers, resonate, and amplify the brand love they already felt. You can read more about the bag redesign here, but to us success meant designing a bag that would communicate and share the same holistic goodness, peace, and love that made Dean’s Beans’ fans crazy about the brand to begin with. 

As soon as the bag was released to the public, the brand’s social accounts began getting fans organically posting and bragging about new packaging all over their personal feeds. Not only were posts pouring in from fans, Dean’s Beans was gaining new fans and a new level of national visibility through features like the 2020 Gift Guide for the Fair Trade Federation.

This all beautifully showcased how a package could so clearly elevate a wide range of brand touchpoints and metrics; but it wasn’t until a fan posted about making an actual wallet out of an upcycled Dean’s Beans bag that we knew our brand love had connected with Dean’s Beans fanbase.

To us this not only showcases a successful packaging project, it illustrates how powerful it can be to treat packaging as a physical way to enable consumers to feel good about your brand, connect with your values, and empower them to share your packaging as a way to express themselves – be it over social media, over coffee, or even through a crafty wallet. Congrats @Deans Beans fam!


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