When you’re marching down the supermarket aisle, there are plenty of products that really stand out because of their brand-centric packaging. It’s almost automatic: you know to grab the orange-red Tide® bottle, your white Lean Cuisine® boxes with the orange font, the flaming-red rooster bottle of Sriracha hot sauce. You know your favorite brands by sight—so well that shopping for them is almost automatic.

Did you know you can induce this sort of brand loyalty by creating brand-centric packaging for your service-based business?

Here’s how it works…

Go with the Flo

We all know Flo from the Progressive® Insurance commercials, with her signature white outfit, red lipstick and blue headband. Flo is a personification of the Progressive brand—but she’s just one brand tactic the Progressive marketing team uses to get their (insurance-with-a-personalized-touch) message across. Here’s one of Progressive commercials that shows off their packaging, Knight at the Castle.

As you can see, Progressive takes their service-based business a step further by creating television commercials set in a physical, supermarket-type atmosphere. Each pick-your-price insurance package is rendered as a physical cardboard box in line with the company’s branding. Furthermore, these physical products can combined to produce a bundle.

We think this is ultra-clever. Consumers watch these commercials and see these insurance services as a consumable product—one we can scan at the counter and take home with us, just like it’s in our local grocery store.

When you present your services as physical products, that feeling of tangibility translates to added value. People often see physical products as more worthwhile than the more “conceptual” services you offer. Even though your services often result in a well-defined deliverable (like a spiffy website or a well-manicured lawn), that finished product doesn’t leave behind any brand resonance.

Think: What Will They Put in Their Shopping Cart?

Ask yourself: What will my customer “take home” as a token of our service agreement? It doesn’t matter if you have a product or service company, you truly need to package your offerings with attention to detail. Everything you produce, from virtual to physical packaging, should look and feel like the experience your customer will have with your brand. This is all about perceived value. When your services have a slick look and a catchy name, you give your customers a glimpse at the experience they’re soon to have with your brand. Now isn’t that a great opportunity to make a sweet first impression?

You want your customers to feel confident in your brand right off the bat, before they commit to anything. Think of this virtual or tangible physical packaging as another opportunity to create more positive brand presence.

If you offer services that can be purchased via a shopping cart on your website, your “product” packaging is in the bag, but only if you do it right. With a great brand-centric packaging design right on your website, you can offer your customer something physical, memorable, sharable and recognizable—and that’s some serious brand building.

If your services typically require a few conversations between you and the customer before anyone commits to the purchase, then you have three additional means of “packaging” your service:

  1. Your website IS your product packaging. Make a great first impression with awesome messaging and a well-thought-out, consistent brand look and feel. Each click into your site should make that potential customer feel more engaged with your brand and more confident in your ability to provide the services they require.
  2. Your physical marketing collateral can be a great physical or virtual tool. This could be a brochure, postcard or flyer the customer can take home and review. Another opportunity to make a physical brand impression with that potential customer. Offer up a special or a coupon, along with a consistent brand look and feel, and they’ll see the added value already.
  3. Your services “spec” documents and contracts can also be “packaged.” Your contract, contact information, scope documents and other information and goodies can be presented as a physical folder: everything neatly tucked inside, stamped with your logo and attached to your business card—all consolidated into a nice little package, and all working together to make a serious brand impression.

It all comes back to creating a great brand that is memorable and consistent: always and across the board. By cleverly packaging your service-based business as a series of products, you’re giving yourself and your business the opportunity to create another great impression with your awesome branding. If your packaging looks shoddy or your branding is non-existent or inconsistent, you’re not only failing to impress your current customers, but you’re definitely missing out on new business.

Try offering your service-based business customers something cool in the way of packaging (whether physical or virtual). People like stuff. Encourage your customers to pick your services off the shelf and take home your brand!