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A Quick Guide to Effective Packaging Design

  • Packaging design must accommodate branding, required information, and the visual assets that most appeal to the target audience.
  • To stand apart from the crowd, be innovative with visual elements, how the packaging closes or folds out, and the overall look and feel of the design.
  • Even with a creative approach, it’s important to know the basics of colors, design trends, and other factors that impact buying decisions.

Great packaging design is the difference between whether or not a customer picks up a product, let alone buys it. As it turns out, people do judge a book by its cover — and that cover has to include both company branding and information that’s required by law. So, how does one create beautiful, effective packaging designs?

Know Your Audience

Even the most delightful packaging won’t work if it doesn’t match the target audience. Is the product being marketed to luxury shoppers or impulse buyers? Is it high-end or low-end? Do people know what your product does or do they need to be convinced? All these factors go into how your packaging entices potential customers.

Evaluate Logistical Needs

Whether your product is packaged in a bottle, box, or envelope, the size, shape, and type of material will impact your design. How will the colors look once printed on the material? Does the design need to be folded or wrapped around the product? Do you need multiple layers of packaging, and if so, how does the design play into all these? Design is ultimately functional, and it’s crucial to take the product’s shipping, storage, and display needs into consideration.

Think Outside the Box

Even if you are working within restrictions, you still want to be as innovative as possible with your design. Unexpected designs are eye-catching, but they don’t have to be overly complicated. Sometimes, striking typography or a funky pattern is enough to set your product apart from the crowd. For inspiration, look at craft breweries: they tend to include unique, highly artistic designs for their bottles.

Include the Fine Print

Most food and beverage items will need to list key information about the product, such as nutritional facts, alcohol advisories, or any specialty labels, e.g. gluten-free, organic, etc. Depending on the product, you may have to sacrifice a lot of real estate for these requirements. Know exactly what you need to include to avoid costly recalls and reprints.

Keep Colors in Mind

People respond emotionally to different colors: it’s science. You can tap into color trends to help your product elicit the desired response. For example, you may have noticed that toiletries and cosmetic products tend to use pinks, light blues, and greens for a fresh, clean look, while snack foods are often packaged with bright blues, reds, and oranges to give them a fun vibe.

Try not to step too far outside tradition. You want your packaging design to look like it suits your market yet still stand out from the crowd. For example, Pacifica products feature soothing, natural colors, yet include whimsical designs that draw the eye.

Offer Customers a Tactile Experience

Of course, product packaging isn’t just to look at. People like to touch things, and the right tactile experience can be the deciding factor in whether someone chooses to buy. Materials need to be resistant to heat, light, and moisture, but you can still design your product packaging to appeal to people’s senses.

Want an earthy, natural approach? Try cardboard packaging like No Evil Foods. Do your customers respond to sleek, minimalistic packaging? Try a plain, smooth white box like iPhone.

Wrapping Up

Product packaging is a pivotal piece of branding efforts. Consumers learn to identify products by their packaging design. In fact, many consumers recognize the look and feel of the packaging before they read the brand name. So make it count: create a design that catches the eye and entices people to buy, but be sure to leave room for the legally required information you need to include. Think outside the box.

By developing your design for the target audience’s unique interests, you can turn a boring box, bottle, or bag into something that customers can feel excited about, you set your product apart from its competitors.


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