Bakers Journal

Packaging an Image

December 4, 2007
By Jane Ayer

We all like to say we're open-minded and not in the habit of judging a book by its cover

We all like to say we're open-minded and not in the habit of judging a book by its cover, especially in our increasingly uber-sensitive and politically correct society. But let’s be honest: we often make judgments based on first encounters. Walk down any street in any city and you’ll pass a multitude of stores open for business and hoping to get yours. How likely are you to walk into a store you’ve never been in, if the front shop window has a crack running down the length of it and the interior looks dingy and grey? You know yourself that if someone walked in off the street looking for work and your immediate first impression of them wasn’t a good one, the likelihood of you giving them a second chance to change your mind is a slim one. Whether we’re talking about people, places or products, packaging matters.

Do you remember that when it comes to your own business? How often do you approach the front of your bakery the way a customer would? Do you make a point of forcing yourself to really take in and think about what it is you see in front of you? And are you seeing what’s actually there, or just what you want to see? The same goes for the packaging you choose for your products. How much thought do you put into the packaging in which you offer your pastries or that encases your bread? Your packaging should say as much about you and the products you sell as the name of your business or the items you make.

Looking for ideas? Stroll through the bakery aisle of your local grocery store and take a look at the products put out by some of the larger wholesale businesses.

Dufflet Pastries’ retail line of sweets comes in boxes that are pretty and clean with “Eat More Cake” written on each end. The words “sweet” and “pure” are printed on the front, beneath the clear plastic window. While I’m familiar with Dufflet and the quality of the products the company produces, the packaging is what first caught my eye when I was grocery shopping one night. I wasn’t looking to purchase a sweet, in fact I think I was on my way to buy milk when I looked down, saw colours I liked and had to stop to investigate further. I ended up going home with one of Dufflet’s carrot cakes that night.

In terms of bread products, many wholesale bakeries are making effective use of the blank space available on the side of their bread sleeves. “Bread is not just a part of life. Bread is life itself,” reads a quote on the packaging for Manoucher’s garlic loaf. “We love bread,” is the first thing customers will read if they look on the back of an Ace Bakery bread sleeve.

And the logo on Italian Home Bakery products tells customers they’re looking at a loaf of “Superior Bread.” 

To help inform you a little more while making your packaging decisions, we have an article (page 10) showcasing award-winning packages from this year’s National Packaging Competition, organized by the Packaging Association of Canada. We also feature an excerpt from Innovations in Food Packaging, a new book by University of Manitoba assistant professor Jung H. Han (page 12). I hope you can glean some ideas from both.

Effective packaging doesn’t necessarily mean expensive packaging. As Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, “brown paper packages tied up with string” have their own charm. Spending just a little time thinking about the image you want your packaging to convey will make sure the first impression your customers have of your products is the one you want them to have.

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