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Product packaging design isn’t merely about sleek aesthetics and an award-winning graphic design. It’s about creating a look that the consumer feels at their core. This article will provide five packaging design tips (and maybe a few more…) to draw consumers in and keep them there.
Here’s what you will learn:
- How to be honest and accurate with your packaging presentation.
- Why you must avoid product differentiation that leads to confusion.
- Knowing how to implement originality in a meaningful way.
- How to implement the future presentation of your product into the design process.
- The importance of returning to functionality for a better packaging experience.
The packaging design process is a fundamental part of every brand strategy. Apply these tips to every aspect of your marketing strategy. Be sure to thread them throughout your company and communicate it to any product packaging design companies you work with.
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The Basics of Packaging Design
What features are you looking for when shopping for a new drain cleaner? Do you want something quick and effective, a product that removes clogs and debris from your pipes without compromising the integrity of the drain? Do you want high value for cost? Or will you buy the bottle with the girl in a bikini holding a plunger on the label?
A few people might buy a bottle of drain cleaner (cough syrup or laundry detergent) based solely on the girl’s beauty. However, most of the consumer base will recognize this for the desperate, misguided, and cynical marketing ploy it is.
Suppose you consistently use gimmicky concepts in your package design. In that case, you’ll likely lose your clientele, offend customers, and need a packaging refresh or require a complete brand pivot strategy. To prevent you from having to experience such pain, follow these basic tips about attention-grabbing packaging concepts.
Packaging Design Tip #1: Honesty and Accuracy
We’ve all purchased a candy bar, box of cereal, or canned food product that was different from what the package label promised. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Doesn’t it just make you want to go online and write nasty product reviews, so the world knows how angry you are with the blatant fraud you witnessed?
Of course, you do. So do thousands of other customers who have gone through the same thing. What do you think the company’s reaction is going to be? Yup, they’ll reconfigure the design. And guess who will not be the packaging designer? Whoever handled the original concept!
Packaging Design Tip #2: Use Product-Appropriate Package
It’s very avant-garde to design a package that inspires associations with another product with great customer appeal. We’ve seen beauty products in bottles resembling milk jugs, Chinese food take-out containers, boxes of chocolates, and other things. For some reason, with beauty products, consumers tend to like and trust food associations.
However, cleaning solvents should look like cleaning solvents. Boxes of cookies should look as though they contain cookies. Designing a package of athletic itch cream that looks like toothpaste will only confuse the consumer. Worse, it could lead to lawsuits from all the customers who developed severe mouth lesions because of that confusion.
Of course, don’t let these constraints limit you. Just because you want to convey the contents of the package accurately doesn’t mean you shouldn’t source ideas from other areas, which leads us to our next tip:
Packaging Design Tip #3: Carve Your Spot By Being Original
You shouldn’t need us to tell you this, but try to “think outside the box” with your product packaging design. If other products use highly contemporary concepts, consider a nostalgic or old-timey design.
If other brands use highly colorful, kaleidoscopic designs, use a simple and bold strategy. A contrarian approach can be just as eye-catching, especially near dozens of extremely colorful (often seizure-inducing) packages. Speaking of shelf proximity…
Packaging Design Tip #4: Understand Your Shelf Proximity
No one will notice your product if your package blends seamlessly into other products on the retailers’ shelves. Look through grocery store shelves and see which products stand out in the crowd. Now, look at your package design. Will customers notice it against the sea of other competing products, or will it look like an extension of another product display?
Packaging Design Tip #5: Optimize For Functionality & Usability
Have you ever used a product you loved but found removing it from the container difficult because of its unique, yet impractical, shape? Shampoo bottles shaped like bottles of Perrier may be adorable and unique, but when you’re in the shower, do you want to mess with the screw-top in the shower?
Comfort in the hand, ease of extraction, and the ability to remove the product without leaving a 1/3 of a cup at the bottom is a smart move. A hallmark of practical packaging is eliminating the consumer’s need to dig out valuable products with a drinking straw.
Want More Product Packaging Design Tips?
In an effort to help you better reach potential buyers and create a more significant shelf impact, a few more tips wouldn’t hurt! So here are three more tips to assist with your next product design.
Bonus Tip #1: Shift Your Spend Into Sustainable Packaging
With increasing awareness of environmental issues, a healthy portion of your target market is looking for environmentally conscious brands. Consider using eco-friendly packaging, reducing packaging waste, and designing packaging that can be easily recycled or reused.
Bonus Tip #2: Pay Attention To The Impact of Typography
Typography is one of the design elements of packaging that goes unnoticed by brands, but it impacts the consumer. Your product typography can convey your brand’s personality, grab the customer’s attention, and provide critical information about the product. Ensure your typography is legible, appropriately sized, and consistent across all packaging designs.
Bonus Tip #3: Branding As A Part of The “Long Game”
Packaging design is an opportunity to create a strong brand identity that customers will recognize and trust. Ensure that your packaging design reflects the values and personality of your brand. Use consistent branding elements across all packaging designs to create a cohesive and recognizable brand image.
Package Design Testing
These tips are only as good as the target customer deems them to be. What you assume to be true in a subjective design process is often determined invalid upon testing with real-life consumers. By learning these package design tips, brands must leverage testing to validate their actions.
There you have it: the basic rules for successful package design. So get creative! Go nuts! Impress us with your ability to conceptualize the next wave of 21st-century packaging! But remember, if your package promises us a chocolate-covered granola bar and then delivers us something with one or two measly chocolate chips, we’re coming after you, pal.
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