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After selling 100 million units, we redesigned our package. Here’s why.

Justin Fuller
Mar 18, 2019 · 4 min read

words by Brett Shea

In the beginning, PopSockets was invented to solve a problem most of us didn’t even realize we had: smartphones are not designed with hands in mind. Stick a collapsible grip on the back, however, and you’ve got something that human hands can grasp. It’s undeniable. It’s why we’ve sold 100 million of them, with demand growing as we enter more markets around the world. But being a viral product comes with challenges.

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Smile! A family portrait of the new PopSockets packaging.

CHALLENGE ONE — THIEVERY/CORPORATIONS

Our old packaging was flawed. It held product firmly in place, but not that firmly, as it turned out. A firm pluck gave you a free grip, no promo code required. Product was literally flying off the shelves, leaving these ineffective packages behind. Needless to say, retailers weren’t entirely pleased.

CHALLENGE TWO — SCHLOPSOCKETS

When people know your product but not your brand, anyone can start peddling knockoffs for a fraction of the cost. This happened. Low-quality counterfeits flooded the marketplace. But when they broke, or sub-par adhesive failed and cracked phone screens, fingers pointed at us. We needed to separate ourselves from the knockoffs.

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Logo before (left) and after (right)

CHALLENGE THREE — NEW BRAND WHO DIS?

People like brands. People like cool, innovative products, too. But having a cool, innovative product does not a brand make. Standing for something, however, is a start. And stand for something, we do. Our old package gave us all the charm of a dim warehouse in North Jersey, while our lived experience was and is one of working every day in an office bursting with creativity and passion. So that needed to change, too. We needed to rebrand.

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Packaging before the rebrand
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Packaging after the rebrand

CHALLENGE FOUR — SQUEEZING INTO THE MARGINS

You spend years perfecting your product. You want people to like it when they pick it up in store. You want it to feel premium. Does it matter if you spend a few pennies more on the package to achieve that fancy feel? It does when you’re forecasting to sell hundreds of millions of units, so every bit of luxurious design magic would need a reason to exist, or face the dreaded kibosh.

Finally, we had this one tiny, little hurdle. It wasn’t one package, but six, and most of these products were barely in the prototyping phase. It was like trying to bake a cake by mixing the ingredients together when they’re already in the oven. Startup life.

THE SOLUTION

In essence, our brief was to create a new packaging system that solved all these challenges at the same time. Easy. So here’s what we did.

Our original phone-sized packaging enabled trial. See it on a shelf, pick it up, play with it, and you pretty much get the basics. We knew we had to keep this aspect. But to address the theft problem, we devised a clever, locking insert system that allows customers to fiddle with the grip to no end. The base stays firmly in the packaging until it’s opened, and then it slides right out, which is groovy for our vendors and for us.

Another thing that’s groovy is when stuff is shiny. Somebody had the idea to use foil paper because of this fact, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized it’d differentiate our package from dumb-dumb dodo bird counterfeits. Honestly, what kind of scammer springs for fancy holographic paper? None of ‘em.

And once we engineered a theft-resistant package, we needed to put a lot of words on it. We came up with a bilingual system. You see it here in English and French, but it works just as well with most other languages. Which is great, because we could make a package in Dutch and Creole for Curaçao, and make our product manager very proud. He’s from there.

And now that we’ve finished the process of designing this packaging family, on time for the launch of every one of the products you see here and more you’ll be seeing soon, it feels like we should head to Curaçao or some other lovely tropical destination for a little break. Hashtag earned it.

Thinking in Circles

Stories from the Creative Team at PopSockets

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