Successful packaging design does more than just look good!

Packaging design is simply although many designers approach it from the wrong angle. Obsessed with aesthetics they give little thought to their market, function and neglect that it has to work with many variables.

The following articles outlines some of the basic principles for successful packaging design.

Show the product

Yes, packaging needs to grab attention, inform and sell. Far to many packaging designers see this as secondary to creating their own trendy portfolio piece. As designers that we like clean, sharp design but this isn’t always what sells. It doesn’t always suit the product and give the consumer what they need or want to see. Packaging design shouldn’t be a showcase of ‘nice’ design. Great design is what engages the consumer and sells.

Sell the benefits

Depending on the value of the product determines how cautious we are to purchasing it. If the first knowledge you have of a product is seeing it on a shelf then you need to be able to pick it up, see the product and learn about it. Many designers fail to present practical information on packaging that helps consumers to make an informed decision. This will always fail to sell. Imagine two similar products on a shelf, one has lots of information and the other is limited. Shoppers will always choose the product that gives them more information.
There are some exceptions to this of course. Global giants like Apple who are known and trusted don’t need to work as hard to sell. The sell has already been done before the consumer picks up the package. We know the brand, values and generally the product. For this reason they can sell with clean design that simply features a high quality image of the product.
Good packaging design will always make someone want to pick it up. It will inform and clearly sell the benefits of the product.

Know who your market!

You may be asking why ‘know your market’ relates to an article about packaging design. Simply put successful packaging needs to be backed by solid marketing. Knowledge is key, it’s the foundation on which great design is built. Knowing gender, personality traits, socioeconomic position and so on are all crucial. All of this information determines colour, font style, tone of language and key messages.

Studying your consumer and target market is crucial to the success of any type of packaging project, whether it’s a launch or redesign. You need to know exactly who your talking to so you can design packaging that appeals and communicates effectively.

Great product, great design.

Successful packaging design works in harmony with the product. This means the packaging and brand reflect the personality and type of product. This can come down to shape, colour, material and photography. For example, an organic body pamper pack may be packaged in natural card with minimal print and straw packaging. The image below shows packaging design for premium honey where the pack immediately makes you think of bees.

creative honey packaging design

Creative BUT viable

Think shipping, think units cost, think stacking and think about protecting the product. An egg box is probably the best example of practical packaging. Every aspect is covered. They’re cheap to produce on mass and they protect the product in transit. Way to many designers just get creative and don’t consider budget or the practicalities of shipping. All of these aspects need considering from the outset. Ask yourself what is the point in producing a great design that costs more to manufacture than your product itself. Or, you’ve got a wonderful looking box design that your customer gets home to find everything inside is damaged because it’s not been protected. Think practical first and build of that.

Build your brand

It may seem easy to simply feature your brand on your packaging BUT some designers get it wrong. Position and size need to be considered based on how well known the brand is. Ask whether you lead with the brand and get it to sell, or if presenting a strap line first works better. Also, consider the product type, if you’ll only ever sell one to each consumer then it will be less prominent giving space for the message or strap line. The shoe packaging below is a good example of building and presenting a brand. Clearly Nike and the Michael Jordan brand don’t need to work that hard to sell, therefore the packaging is very simple allowing the brand to do all the work. Also the product itself will feature on a shelf so the purpose of the packaging isn’t to jump off a shelf but to provide protection to take your shoes home.


Get it right

In summary, don’t be blinded by pretty design because it won’t necessarily sell your product. Instead make sure your designer has good knowledge of your product and understands the benefits. Make sure your packaging company has all the knowledge and research available on your target market. Practical packaging design wins, start with a budget based on your unit cost and work from there. Above all build a strong brand and sell on benefits.

If you would like to speak to a packaging specialist for a free consultancy session then call us on 0191 2267321