One of the most powerful branding lessons I ever learned was during my time in grad school. Not through the university, but during a part-time job. I had the opportunity to work for Apple. On each campus Apple had a student rep who helped advocate for the brand and answer questions. The major upside of the position was that they flew all of us out to Cupertino, CA to Apple HQ for training. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the infinite loop or mothership as many call it you know how exciting it can be.
There we heard from the likes of Jonny Ives and other Apple employees. A creative director, Hiroki Asai, told us the story of the first iPhone box design. A great brand transcends the actual product or service. No one knows this more than Apple. The iPhone box, is a beautiful all black rectangle. Inspired by an antique wooden box found in France, more attention to detail was put into just the box design than you would imagine.
First the box itself has a precisely fitting lid. If you remember opening your first iPhone, the lid creates a suction effect that is unique to the product. The designers were challenged to drop the lid onto the box, if it didn’t take at least 4 seconds to slowly compress closed on its own they re-did it. Give it a try.
The second detail he spoke about is an incredible undertaking when you think about the scale of iPhones that go out. The pure black packaging makes for a challenging printing job. When the boxes are printed the outer graphics are printed on paper then wrapped around the cardboard box. As you wrap heavily printed paper there is often cracking or tearing of the paper at the folded edge. This caused white cracks at the corners of the box.
With incredible attention to detail, each box was hand painted black at the edges to create the seamless black box that helps elevate the brand. There were a few other lessons shared with us that day, but one worth taking away is that every touch consumer touch point will influence the perception of your brand. Overlooking the small things will quickly add up whether in visual presentation or user interaction, so keep in mind that often the brand can live in the details.