Every Package Tells a Story

Packaging is a key element in creating and maintaining a brand for your store. That’s because the package is the one item, besides the product, that comes home from the store with the customer.

Pam Levine, founder and president of Levine Design Group, which provides marketing, advertising, packaging display, graphics, and design services for luxury goods companies, says a good packaging program properly communicates the message the jeweler is trying to relay and heightens the experience for the customer.

“From a visual perspective, it’s a silent salesperson,” she says. “It’s what happens once we establish the message, and the communication of that message is woven with the salesperson and the pitch.”

Levine says retailers need to make a commitment to do packaging right.

“It is a very important element to establish,” she says. “It’s an added value for the consumer, showing their gift in a beautiful and respectful fashion. Many times I have found that retailers develop a very generic package. Spending the extra time and money, and paying attention to detail to determine if their packaging truly reflects the type of customer they truly draw in, is what is necessary today.”

Levine says it’s important to understand that consumers purchase luxury goods because it makes them feel good—not because they have to. Packaging is one tool jewelers can use to improve a customer experience and make their store stand out.

“The more you can go beyond their expectations, the better,” she says. “If we go into a jewelry store and get something very basic, it really brings the experience down a notch.”

Levine is a big fan of reflective paper and other new materials that enhance the look of a package. She says these materials, the result of recent technological advancements, are an effective way to add shine and layering to a package. Wood, plastics, and other materials also add a distinctive look and feel, she says. Sometimes the look of a package may even bring an additional level of comfort to uncertain customers.

“We’re using everything from metallic fabrics, mattes, and different textures to create a more interactive and lively attraction for the customer,” Levine says. “There is something that happens when we walk into a store and receive a package that is beautiful. For customers not confident with their choices, packaging may provide a level of comfort. When we go to retail stores, we’re looking for guidance and assurance that it is the right thing to buy.”

Levine adds that a beautiful package is a way for a retailer to say, “We respect your process of gift giving, and we want to enhance it to the nth degree.”

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Maddy Rovinsky, co-owner of Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelry, a 10-store operation with locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, said she spent at least six months developing a packaging system that would properly reflect her store’s luxury brand. The process included finding companies able to produce the right colors and materials, a lot of product testing, and consultation with Bernie Robbins’s marketing department. Rovinsky says the time and trouble were worth it.

“I believe my packaging is part of my brand,” Rovinsky says. “I want it to express the kind of store we have. It’s very important that the box is beautiful. After we make each sale, no matter the price, we want the package to look and feel special and to be a clear representation of our brand.”

The box that contains the jewels is made of a dark wood. The inside is dyed an even darker shade of brown and lined with velvet. Rovinsky describes the color of the wrapping paper as copperlike, producing a leathery look. The package is tied with a ribbon dyed in shades of orange and brown with white accents that shimmer as if reflecting light.

Resting on the ribbon is a butterfly. This re-creation has a slender brown body and wings dyed in different shades of brown, red, and yellow, with white spots on its edges. This symbol was first used when the packaging was redesigned over three years ago and is a rare instance of packaging leading to an embellishment of a store’s brand.

“The butterfly is our signature,” Rovinsky says. “It’s the sweet surprise of the packaging and one of the most recognizable things we do right now. We started out using it first on our packaging. I like it and my daughter likes it, because it feels warm, friendly, and luxurious. We took that image, and now use it throughout our catalog, in different ways.”

Rounding out the packaging program are shopping bags with tissue papers and clear wrapping paper for bottles of champagne and wine. Again, great care was taken to complement the brownish shades of the gift packaging with the related wrapping papers and shopping bags. (The stores also use the colors of the packaging.)

“We hope that when you carry that bag that you feel proud you’re carrying a Bernie Robbins bag,” Rovinsky says. “We’ve had customers say that when they get something in a Bernie Robbins bag, they know it’s going to be special. That’s an exciting thing to hear.”

Levine warns jewelers that before determining the elements of a packaging program, they must make sure the brand they want to develop communicates who they are and how they want the public to perceive them.

“From a design point of view, the initial stage is understanding what their brand is,” she says. “Otherwise, they’re guessing. Many people don’t understand the role that something such as packaging plays in terms of the brand image.”

It’s part of a holistic approach to creating a brand, that is, making sure every aspect of the store is on message. “Once the jeweler has a firm understanding of his or her brand, it’s much easier,” she says.

London Jewelers is one luxury retailer whose owners know who they are and how to use packaging to communicate their brand to customers. Candy Udell, co-owner of the five-store operation in Long Island, N.Y., sees packaging as another way to tell their story.

“The packaging is part of your image,” she says. “It’s one of the most important things that you invest in to tell the story of who you are. Our packaging tells the story of elegance, beauty, and quality. When people see a package from London Jewelers, they know that they are getting the best in integrity and reliability.”

Udell created the current packaging for the store about five years ago. The dominant color of the box is black. The lettering (spelling out the name of the jeweler) and ribbon are cream-colored. Topping the ribbon is a cream-colored flower. Udell says a lot of thought went into the final creation.

“I had an idea that we thought about for some time and then went to our box company and put it together,” she says.

One unusual feature is the placement of the company’s name: It’s on the side of the box instead of the top. On top is the cream-colored ribbon with the name of the jeweler printed in black.

“I like to have my name in as many places as you can put it,” Udell says. “It’s very elegant and very recognizable, which is more important than anything. People see this and they know it comes from London Jewelers.”