How Costly Should Branding and Packaging Be?

Today, the 4th of July, marks the anniversary of our inherited freedom. Today marks the display of many symbols of that most cherished civil liberty, products displayed in our three national colors of red, white, and blue, a variation of the three, or others.

Investopedia wrote a detailed article on what branding entails. Companies spend millions to brand and package themselves and their products uniquely in attempts to vie for consumers’ money, affection, and trust. They ensure that the exterior of their products will drag buyers who are disinclined to spend belabored income.

A perfect scenario occurred this morning as I brewed my usual morning hot beverage. The same size of rectangular bags housed all tea leaves in my cabinet regardless of the manufacturer. I yawned at the colorful boxes staring back at me because, despite the colorful containers, the predictable interiors could not fool me.

I confess to buying the products, but the containers, that is, the book covers, misled me. Many rectangular bags dangled from strings, and I felt like a puppeteer. I yawned again. Oh, help!Image A sachet in a plain but unusual attire winked at me with confidence. It had no string and was not rectangular. It wore an unpretentious circular outfit. Talk about effortless packaging! How ingenious and distinctive can a circle be? The packaging was simple sophistication. Like our patriotic colors, it had its own unique three colors on the box: orange, white, and black.

The simple ingenuity of what I now call “tea discs” had my brain popping. Branding does not have to cost a fortune! The other manufacturers must have spent mined treasures on threads, colorful paper folded many times over to cradle each bag, words printed in color, foil caches, and other exorbitant branding expenses. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my tea ceremony.)

When I untied the strings and removed the colorful papers with the brand names imprinted on them, I could not distinguish one company’s tea from the other. Imagine the resources wasted in an attempt to look different only to end up losing the exclusiveness they sought.

The round bags stood unencumbered, proud, unique, and, might I add, FREE! The box that contained them displayed an artist’s light strokes of scenic London and her busy inhabitants. The container must not have cost that much to create.

Does packaging reputation and image have to run one into a poor house? Should reputation and image speak for themselves so they are not packaged? (Public relations executives are having seizures at the thought of images and reputation left to run rampant without proper supervision and channeling.)

Consumers2013-07-01 19.21.47_compressed judge a product by its packaging first. Readers judge a book by its cover first. How does a writer set himself or herself apart from the millions of past, present, and future writers? The competition is cut-throat even from babies in the womb who already know they are born writers. (Isn’t that what we say? “From birth…”)

How much money and effort should a writer expend on branding himself/herself? On packaging a book? The book should come first and should brand the author (as I wrote previously) and his/her reputation and image. Should a writer pour every available funds into the design of a cover?

What about the interior, the story? What if it sounds like every other story? What if the characters are as unmemorable as a bore’s equally mind-numbing routine? What if the peak rises no higher than balled dough without yeast? Therein lies the problem. Like movies, no one can guarantee success or failure of a literary piece until after its release. 2013-07-03 10.33.14_compressed

I would like to think that the story, the interior, captivates than the cover, which makes me an oddball. One should judge a book by its interior first. After readers sacrifice sleep to devour the interior of a book, that is truly when branding and judging should begin.

Like an impatient reader, I just want to get to the story/tea quickly and dispense with the frustrations of threads and unwrapping. The brew in the circular bag titillated my senses. Like the exceptionally suspenseful story it held inside the Camellia sinensis, I gulped every drop and wanted a second London cuppa! (This is not a paid endorsement or advertising.)