Budget-Friendly Packaging Ideas

Packaging is an essential part of photography studios. It can help you stand out, make you look professional, carry on your brand and is one more way to make your clients feel they are getting what they are paying for, as PPA members Trevor and Tourine Johnstone say. But you don't have to spend a ton to get cool packaging designs and materials.

Don't Throw It Away   
"It's amazing what you can repurpose if you're open-minded," notes Tourine. When their studio address changed, they had stacks of stickers with the old address on them. Instead of throwing them away, the Johnstones cut the stickers into two parts: one with the studio name and URL, one with just the logo. They use the sticker with the URL to seal their tissue-wrapped albums and mini books, and they use the logo part of the sticker for their bags and heavy-duty items. They even found a way to create branded water bottles that they give to clients! After buying cases of water from Costco, they cut brown craft paper to size (recycled from the bottom of their WHCC shipments) and use the logo part of the sticker to attach it all. Voila!

Change your business cards? You can probably turn the old cards into bag tags like the Johnstones did. They trimmed the cards, punched holes in one end and attached them to the handles of their gift bags. Now they have a place to write the name of the client whose order is in the bag (handwritten on the back of the tag). It adds an air of professionalism and saves money because they no longer have to buy post-it notes and remember to take the note off the bag before giving it to the client.

Smart design is often a way to good savings too. Trevor, the graphic design brain behind Johnstone Studios, suggests always designing to extend the life of your materials or promos. Their latest Father's Day promotional materials were created without the actual dates, so they can be reused next year. And their new studio stickers no longer have the mailing address on them, just the name, URL, phone number and logo…because they know those will never change.

Even their wedding brochure is designed with savings in mind. The brochure is made up of single pages attached by a ball and chain. If a price or package needs changing, they can replace just one page instead of reprinting the whole brochure. Then, they use the backs of any replaced pages as notepaper, saving on office supplies!

Look for Different Ways of Doing Things
Trevor says you should always look at different ways of doing things. Doing so led them to switch from wedding DVDs (with custom disk labels and a nice box) to wooden flash drives engraved with their logo. The cost is about the same, but using the flash drives saves them time, encourages their clients to print more, and is a better fit for their organic brand.

Trevor also suggests shopping around for printers for your business cards or other packaging materials, along with considering outsourcing. For instance, if you want to do a mass mailing, see if the printer can mail it for you. They may get bulk rates that you can't, and it would save you hours of extra labor.

Graphic design is another place where outsourcing can be smart. "We're lucky because we're a design studio, too," Trevor explains. "Photographic skills don't always translate to graphic design, but there are a lot of college kids majoring in that field who could intern for you. They will have the basic knowledge you need to get your packaging designs started."

So don't get stuck in the mindset that good packaging means lots of money. Sometimes it simply means recycling, repurposing, and looking outside, around and underneath the box.

Trevor and Tourine Johnstone own and operate Johnstone Studios in the Lake Tohoe and Reno, NV areas. www.johnstonestudios.com




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