Eating Your Lunch Vol. 2: Branded Packaging

06, Feb. 2019

What do #unboxing, #foodporn, and online order and 3rd-party delivery have in common? They all create an opportunity for your brand to shine.

Branded Packaging

Professional Boxing: Back In The Spotlight

OK, here’s the situation: your customer has ordered up some of your insanely delicious [substitute your food offering here], and the delivery guy shows up at the door. He’s wearing a SkipTheDishes hat and toting YOUR food in a SkipTheDishes warming bag. He pulls out a nondescript plastic bag containing a generic plastic clamshell container and some plastic cutlery, hands it to your customer, and goes on his merry way. They are left (quite literally) holding the bag, so they pull out the container and dig in. They are around an hour removed from an order process in which your brand was present, but maybe not in the way you’d prefer it to be showcased. Based on their most recent transaction, what they’re eating is from SkipTheDishes, not from [insert your brand here]. Human psychology tells us that after enough of these kinds of transactions, they’ll no longer associate your food with your brand, but will have instead transferred that association to the order/delivery platform they interact with.

If this all sounds eerily like déjà vu (didn’t I get this in my inbox a couple of weeks ago?), you’d be partly right; however, after hearing from many of you about our last article on loyalty programs, it felt like you shared our concern, and that maybe it warranted a deeper dive, or at least a look at some other ways to retain that brand association and maintain your brand as top of mind in an order and delivery ecosystem you have less and less control over. To this end, we give you this week’s article on branded packaging.

That’s Why I Bought These Handy-Dandy Stickers…

Of course it is. You know you need your brand present at the point of possession…the problem is getting it there. A sticker could very well be the right solution, but there are literally thousands of packaging choices out there, and it can be daunting to navigate them all and make the right decision, let alone absorb that cost.

Enter the Professionals

The same way you wouldn’t rely on internet research alone to buy life insurance, you probably shouldn’t try to tackle your packaging solution in isolation. Your brand agency should be able to help you here, and if they’re worth their salt, they’ll have partnerships with packaging professionals like Calibre Inc. in Toronto to provide them with the latest and greatest industry innovation and product variety to match your brand.

Can’t I Just Put My Logo on The Lid and Call It A Day?

In case you missed it (and we know you haven’t) there are a couple of trends to note here: #unboxing and #foodporn. Both are examples of visual digital media being shared through social channels to the delight of consumers (and social advertisers) worldwide. The unboxing phenomenon has been around since the early 2000s, and while it’s primarily focused on tech and toys – to the tune of over 141 million Google results for “unboxing videos” that have generated billions of views – the idea that humans are interested in the experience of opening something they’ve purchased, or are interested in purchasing, is notable. The #foodporn trend is also indicative of the demand by consumers for food that looks not just as good, but even better, than it tastes, and for experiences that are ‘instagrammable’ and shareable. It’s possible to create those experiences for your brand, but in order to do so, you’ve got to be focused beyond your logo.

What Are My Options?

To start, it’s important to identify those attributes of your brand that you want your customer to home in on and develop your pack-vertising strategy around that. Choose packaging materials, shapes, and sizes that align with your brand values, and select colors and messaging that reinforces the brand. Be as creative as you can with this unique touchpoint, in order to enrich the interactive experience and develop a point of difference from your competitors. It’s also possible to extend the life of your packaging, by choosing re-usable products that live on in the cupboards, lunch bags, and hearts of your customers.

Thanks, But I Can’t Afford It

“You’d be surprised”, says Qusai Kanchwala, Director of Sales for Calibre, who works with both agencies and directly with food companies and restaurants to find food packaging solutions that work. “Working with your agency and a solutions partner like Calibre can help to quickly narrow down to solutions that can meet your budgetary needs and keep you in the game. We can be as simple or as creative as you want, and with today’s print and production technology, and advances in compostable and eco-friendly options, there’s almost no end to what you can do to help yourself stand out and be more aligned with your brand message.”

It’s important to remember that big brands spend millions of dollars for mere seconds of screen time in the homes of their loyal customers, with great reward. You’re paying a bit extra for an item you already need, and in return you’re getting minutes (and in the case of reusable packaging, months) of prime advertising space in the hands and homes of your customers. What would you pay your ad agency for that?

It’s Time to Rethink Your Packaging

Your customers are turning to third-party delivery apps for convenience; you may not be able to match that exactly, but with the right combination of rewards you can develop brand loyalty and encourage them to stick with you for the other benefits they CAN’T get from the delivery folks. After all, you’re producing the food your customer wants…delivery is just a mechanism to get it there. Reward them, and they’ll be swapping out the delivery icon for yours on their home screen.


This episode is brought to you by:

Jason Hemsworth

Jason Hemsworth


Jason has spent the last 30 years helping restaurants and food/beverage brands with packaging design and strategies that drives sales, inspires trial, and builds brand loyalty. He loves to chat about killer packaging.

Contact Jason

Kevin Hemsworth



Kaitlin Thatcher



Sierra Katrian




The Proof

We’ve done this before. And chances are, you’ve seen our work in action. Kernels, Hopscotch, and South St. Burger are great examples of how we’ve capitalized on this key touchpoint with takeaway packaging that extends the life and depth of our clients’ brands beyond the point of purchase.

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