September 19, 2013

4 Packaging Design Tips to Make Beverage Products Stand Out

4 Packaging Design Tips to Make Beverage Products Stand Out

The world is your oyster when it comes to beverage containers. Your idea of packaging a 20-year-old estate Pinot Noir in individual juice boxes may be misguided, but those suckers will stand out on the shelf.

We’re only kidding. There’s no point in arbitrarily designing freakish packages that will only confuse and even offend the public; you do want your product to earn some level of respect, after all, not merely be the Miley Cyrus of wine. So, what can you do to enhance the prestige of your beverage while making it interesting and accessible? Read on; we’re here to help.

I Spy the Competition

What is the consensus when it comes to beverage container shapes and labeling design? Very likely, there are going to be numerous marked similarities due to the fact that the consumer has come to expect a certain shape and aesthetic. Additionally, other brands will have to take numerous other practical considerations into account (the manufacturing costs; the package material requirements; the target customer), which are very likely going to be the same for the entire pool of competitors. How can you set yourself apart while still working within a rather tight series of parameters?

Sometimes small differences can make a huge impact. Take, for example, the Formula Water line of functional sports drinks that we designed. The bottles themselves are similar to other sports drinks — they have a tapered surface for easy gripping; the containers are clear so that the potential buyer can see the almost supernatural color of the beverage itself – but the labels are placed higher up on the bottles than their competitors’. On the surface, this may seem like a minor variation, but when viewed alongside other similar products, the Formula Water bottles are actually very distinct.

Mmmm, Tasty …

A consumer should feel as though he or she knows what the beverage tastes like simply by looking at the bottle. That was one of the most important aspects we wanted to convey when designing the Formula Water packaging. While you don’t exactly need to try to work every nuanced flavor profile into the design in order to effectively convey the sensation of consuming the product, you should be able to illustrate what the product manufacturer wants the consumer to feel as he or she is drinking the beverage.

For example, if the flavor is meant to be crisp and refreshing, perhaps the bottle should be clear and smooth, so that the buyer can anticipate the feeling of drinking something cool and clean. If the flavor is meant to be creamy and comforting, maybe choose an opaque bottle that might remind the potential buyer of a carton of milk or a container of ice cream.

Raise the Bottle

You know how in elementary school group photos your eye is automatically drawn to the awkward tall kid? Without making your container exactly awkward, you can still use size to draw the customer’s eye right to your product.

Bottle height can really elevate your beverage profile. Without making your bottle so tall it can’t fit on a standard store shelf, consider making the bottle slightly taller than the competition. Looza, the brand of fruit beverage cocktails, uses sleek, tall bottles that are immediately identifiable on the store shelf. In fact, a cursory scan of a beverage shelf will instantly tell you whether or not the store even carries the product.

Don’t Neglect the Label

Even though the shape and size of the beverage container are often the main concern of the design team (we tend to believe that designing a unique and glamorous bottle is the shortest road to glory), the label can make your bottle stand out pretty darned effectively.

When we designed the Formula Water packaging we used label flavor and label placement to set its brand apart from the competition. The choice of color or whether to use color at all can also make your label and your brand, by extension, pop. Don’t even get us started on fonts. So, raise your label; lower your label; place your label on a diagonal. Use electric colors; subdued colors or simply black and white. The choice is yours, just as long as the relevant information is clear and legible, and you don’t accidentally assume a hipness you don’t actually possess.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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