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Why branding your food service packaging matters

In food service, branding matters. In a study of branding at the casual restaurant chains Chili’s and Olive Garden, brand personality perceptions were found to significantly impact customers’ restaurant preferences, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth.

How can food service establishments create memorable branding? One of the most impactful ways is through branded packaging. According to Brian Richard, the director of consumer and customer insights at MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV), “When it comes to repeat purchasing, packaging is ranked as one of the highest drivers, having more impact than TV ads, online reviews or even recommendations from friends.”

With these ideas in mind, branded packaging should be functional, while also creating a unified, individualized brand personality that sets your restaurant apart from your competitors. For many food service establishments, developing packaging that is both attractive and functional is nearly as important as developing the food products themselves. For example, one east coast convenience store spends 30-40% of its product development time on developing branded packaging alone.

However, in a  survey from MWV, consumers were not always satisfied with packaging. Some of the problems with food service packaging that were particularly disappointing to consumers included:

  • Packaging that does not prevent spills, leaks or breaks
  • Packaging that does not let the consumer finish all the product or dole out a set amount of the product
  • Packaging that is not easy to close or reseal

While consumers disliked these packaging mistakes, easy-to-use and good-looking branded packaging increase revenues. Consumers find branded packaging appealing because packaging reaffirms their positive perception of your brand image. If they are satisfied with your restaurant the first time, they are more likely to return – and to remember their experience – with custom branding.

Ruckus Group Custom Packaging

How do you make your food service packaging memorable? Here are some best practices:

Your branded packaging should be attractive and meaningful

Your packaging should not simply be functional, but should also serve as a marketing tool. Use your branded packaging as a way of securing a positive image of your restaurant in your customers’ minds. Your branding should be representative of your restaurant.

Take the branding from The Bistro at Courtyard Marriott, a restaurant chain serving international cuisine from morning through evening. The understated and sophisticated bold colors used on in-restaurant and to-go packaging are memorable, while also conveying a sense of worldliness and high quality that matches the restaurant chain’s food offerings.

Your branded packaging should convey uniqueness and uniformity

Packaging with either the restaurant’s logo or a unique design contributes to a consumer’s experience at your restaurant. And that’s what eating away from home is all about, right? So, to start, your branded packaging should be consistent throughout your business, from your trays and glasses to your coasters.

If you have multiple locations, customers want to have the same experience regardless of which location they choose. Your uniform food packaging should extend across single locations to demonstrate that you offer the same level of service at all your establishments.

Your branded packaging should demonstrate its functionality

Packaging needs to serve its purpose, ensuring that the consumer can eat or drink the product as intended. Packaging should keep hot food hot and cold food cold. It should not drip or leak. If the food product is meant to be eaten on the go, the packaging should make this possible. At its core, food packaging should demonstrate that your eatery understands its customers and their needs.

Packaging can also work to demonstrate something about your restaurant’s values. For example, Foodlife, one of the premiere restaurants at the Water Tower Mall in Chicago, uses Greenware® cups, a compostable cup made from plants. Notably, the green message is printed on the cup so customers understand the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. With this choice of packaging, Foodlife demonstrated the environmental focus of its brand to its customers.

Uniqueness can also be of value to consumers. For example, a bundled packaging that lets consumers tote multiple items – like several cups of coffee or a meal with a drink – demonstrates that your restaurant understands your customers’ unique needs. Plus, if your packaging promises to be easily openable, resealable or storable, make sure your packaging delivers on that promise.

Designing attractive, functional food service packaging

Your choice about your food service packaging impacts your customers’ perspective on your business. To leave the best impression, customize your branding with Fabri-Kal. Not only are designs functional, they are also original, innovative and above all, useful for consumers. With a little help, you can analyze what makes your brand unique, customize your branded packaging, and test that packaging to ensure you're conveying exactly who you are to your consumers.

Ready to get a quote on custom packaging for your business? Get in touch with one of our experts to get started.

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