For most businesses, establishing a clear brand identity increases customer familiarity, recognition and retention. Companies of all sizes using delivery service providers to get their products, documents and other items to customers are well-served by actively integrating their brand identity into their shipping processes. Doing so enhances a key corporate asset while increasing customer awareness and improving new business opportunities.

To escape the obscurity afforded to those occupying the middle of the brand identity pact, today’s retailers looking for growth should develop, implement and continuously enhance their brand awareness by including it into every facet of their business, including their shipping operations. While advertising budgets are a recognized practice to achieve higher levels of brand awareness, astute marketers are embedding brand awareness into the shipping end of the business as an effective and reasonably priced extension to their overall branding goals.

Think About the Box
One sure way to enhance brand reputation is to use the exterior of the package itself as a way to build recognition. Used effectively, the packages you prepare and ship can speak volumes to your customers. They can serve as mobile billboards for your company. It’s about more than transporting the contents of a purchase; it’s about improving the overall perception of your company, its service reputation, and the people that stand behind your services.

Branded Shipping Supplies Make their Mark with Customers
Does your company pay for shipping supplies? Using a shipper offering standardized shipping items such as envelopes, boxes, or specialized containers available at low cost or provided free provides one of the best opportunities to enhance your brand while making less of a dent in your company’s budget. Having your merchandise or documents arriving via an expedited service in a widely recognized shipping envelope or box gives your package instant credibility and urgency. It also reduces packaging costs, which increases the overall buying power of your customers. 

For companies looking for a customized look without incurring all the costs, consider cobranded packaging in partnership with your delivery service provider. Use this canvas to send a clear, clean, consistent message that enhances your brand. As an example, the U.S. Postal Service has been successful offering cobranded Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and envelopes to commercial customers meeting certain volume criteria.

If you prefer not to use packaging provided by your service provider or a branded packaging alternative, you can still consider inexpensive alternatives such as labels and customized adhesive stickers. Placing your corporate brand on labels and stickers to the exterior of packaging supplies creates instant brand identity at low cost. This approach gives new meaning to the term “thinking outside the box.”

Green with Identity Envy
Has your firm adopted a green identity? What has your company done to green up its shipping operations and how has it quantified and communicated these practices with customers? Are you working with a delivery provider with a substantial investment in sustainability initiatives? If your firm has yet to jump into the sustainability movement, now is the time to do so. 

Expertise is available to generate a performance analysis to obtain a baseline of where your firm is currently and where the biggest opportunities are for lowering emissions and reducing the overall carbon footprint - even while growing shipping volume. The bonus from the analysis is that it just may reveal opportunities for cost savings in operations. 

As part of your organization’s sustainability goals, consider participating in an industry, government or specialized environmental program, achievement or award that provides recognition of your firm’s commitment to responsible corporate citizenship and planet-friendly practices. Include these achievements and participation in your corporate messaging, and actively seek packaging materials that meet sustainability standards. 

The Postal Service has established itself as a leader in the sustainability movement among delivery providers, and offers a variety of Express Mail and Priority Mail packaging supplies that are imprinted with the “Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM” designation. To achieve this designation, the envelopes, boxes, and shipping labels bearing this mark were assessed by MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for their ecologically-intelligent design, including their impact on human and environmental health.

Round-Trip Reusable Packaging
It’s often said that life is a two-way street, and the same can be said about packaging in the new century. Consider offering or partnering on development of packaging that has the construction, durability and capacity for use beyond initial delivery. The shipping industry is experimenting with multi-use packaging, including the U.S. Postal Service, which recently produced a customized Express Mail envelope developed for two-way shipping for a mailer with specialized requirements. 

Cubic Considerations 
Another consideration is to use a shipping service that rewards smaller and denser packaging, an approach that can add to your sustainability goals. Early this year, the U.S. Postal Service introduced cubic volume-based pricing, a service that provides high-volume commercial shippers with a means for reducing costs for Priority Mail items meeting smaller space configuration thresholds.

Avoiding a Brand Identity Crisis
Enhancing your company’s brand awareness, by maximizing your shipping packaging, practices and partners is an attainable goal, provided you leverage the opportunities your business model, service fulfillment methodology and customer interface provides you with. 

As the great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Don’t let your corporate and service brands fall for obscurity or allow them to become diluted and lost in the crowd. Leverage your shipping processes to strengthen customer perceptions, and align your company with environmentally-friendly processes. Back it up with superior customer service, and you’ll be on your way to a well-recognized and respected brand that translates into new business, increased volumes and high levels of customer retention.