Here’s a simple sketch you can do by yourself or with a team, called the Product Box sketch, to help you clarify the value and benefits of your product, service, or even yourself.
Picture yourself strolling down the aisle of your local supermarket, looking at the various products on the shelves. What catches your eye? What is it about the boxes, packaging and labels that gets that product into your trolley*?
Not many of us get to design those boxes and packaging, but imagine if you got to do exactly that for your business, product or service?
Or imagine if you got to design a box for you?
That’s exactly what this Product Box sketch trick is all about. It’s a way to help you think about whatever it is that you’re selling, from a fresh point of view. You use the visual ‘language’ of boxed product design (like a box of cereal) as a way to express your product’s value to customers. And it goes a bit like this:
Decide on what it is that you want to sell. As an example, I’m going to use ‘Project Manager’ (I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about how she’s trying to help her team understand how a project manager can help them).
1. Start the box
Sketch a nice big rectangle. This is going to be the front of your boxed product.
2. Sketch the front of the box
Now it’s time to start getting creative! Write the name of the ‘product’ at the top of the box in nice big letters (in my case it’s ‘Project Manager’), and sketch whatever your product is. Make sure you leave some area blank for the next step. Note how I’m keeping my sketching really simple:
3. Add the benefits
Next, think about the benefits of your product. What’s your product going to do for your customers? Why should they care? Write those benefits on the front of the box, too (up to 3 benefits is fine). Try not to agonise over the benefits (or your sketching) too much. Progress is better than perfection at this point!
4. Add the ‘ingredients’
Now, let’s get 3D: draw a bit of a parallelogram on one side of your ‘box’. This is the side of the box where your ‘ingredients’ go. This can be the main features of your product; the sort of things that customers want to check that your product includes, when they’re comparing your product with others’. Go ahead and write whatever those ‘ingredients’ are.
5. ‘Open here’
Finish off the box by drawing the top (like you can see below). Add in something about how customers start using your product. Do they just open the box and away they go? Or do you want to add the price?
6. Refine your design
As you sketch this ‘product box’, you may well have more ideas about how to make it better. You might also get into the metaphor of the product box a bit more too, and you might want to riff off product-y things like ‘batteries not included’, or ‘assembly instructions’, and so on. Go ahead and do another sketch, and work in your refinements. Here’s mine:
And there you have it! It’s amazing how often we forget to think about our business, our product, our service — whatever it is — from a customer’s point of view, and the product box is a great metaphor for getting us thinking differently. Here are some ways you can use this Product Box sketch as an activity:
- Help you and your team get a shared understanding about what your product/service is now
- Help you and your team think in a fresh way about what it could become
- Galvanize your team, and get them thinking about their internal value to your organization in a new way
- Help you think about yourself. What value do you want to be in the world? Why should people ‘buy’ you?
- Sharpen up your resume: what are the benefits to your new employer if they were to give you the job?
So, give the Product Box sketch a go, first by yourself and then with your team. As always, let me know if you try it out, and how it went.
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