With the holidays around the corner, it’s almost time for parents to sit in their pajamas around the Christmas tree, face in hand, as their children have the time of their lives with the box that their big-ticket gift came in.
Parents have learned that whether it’s on the shelf at the store or in the corner of their room, kids make a big deal out of the shiny packaging that their favorite stuff comes in. If you’re making products for kids, then you should too. It’s time to do your homework on packaging design for kids.
Depending on the age of kids that you’re targeting, you have to keep some basic safety tips in mind. The packaging needs to be hygienic and child-safe. At the end of the day, it’s the parents making a purchase decision, and they want to know that the product they’re buying is safe for their kids. In the same breath, while children may or may not be eco-friendly consumers in the making, their parents might be. If you can manage sustainable packaging with biodegradable materials, then it’s worth spending the extra penny, both for your conscience and to score a few points with parents trying to do the right thing.
Make it Pop
Most of us know that kids love bright colors, and there’s science behind it. Children’s brains develop all the way into young adulthood. As kids mature, their developing cognitive abilities allow them to perform tasks all the way from learning to tie their shoes to prepping for SATs. This growth corresponds to actual neural development, and a big part of that is perception. The visual circuits in children’s brains are not fully developed at an early age, so bright colors are easier to perceive and more stimulating than muted tones.
If you’re hoping to capture the attention of kids, bright block colors in warm tones are the way to go. Yellow and orange can help signal an attentive cue, whereas red can excite their senses. It’s okay to throw some other colors in for accents and contrast. In fact, it can make the bright colors pop even more, but you want the overall color scheme to be bright and warm.
Minimalism is a trend in design for most adult products from consumer electronics to webpages. This isn’t a trend that transfers over to kids. Your kids don’t want sleek and efficient. They want an adventure straight off the shelf.
This isn’t to say that you need to design packaging that’s so cluttered it turns into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” but you want enough going on in terms of varieties of shapes, word bubbles, and graphics that you can capture a kid’s attention.
A Whole Cast of Characters
It isn’t a coincidence that the cereal aisle looks like a dating website for cartoon characters. Look at just about any brand of cereal marketed to kids and you’ll be greeted with the pearly white smile of some cartoon animal. Again, this is another design choice with hard numbers behind it. Multiple studies point to product image and characters as the most significant element of packaging for kids.
Fun and friendly are safe bets when it comes to choosing a kid’s mascot for your product line. For foodstuff, the friendly face is a must-have to get kids to relate to your brand. However, even if you’re selling a toy or figurine that’s already on display in packaging, a cartoon rendition can help further tickle a kid’s imagination. Keep in mind that you’re not limited to creatures that already have faces. Some of the most memorable children’s characters range from anthropomorphic vehicles to home furnishings. Get creative with it.
Speaking of packaging that displays an item, transparent packaging is another solid tip for kids’ products. If the product is anything that a kid wants to get his or her hands-on, it’s a good call to showcase the item in the package so that it jumps off the shelf. Even grown-ups have that ingrained impulse to yank something out of the box when it feels that close to touch. Kids are no different in this regard.
Narrow it Down
Granted, we’re here to give umbrella advice for children’s products, but your packaging design needs to be just a smidge more targeted. The type of design that will appeal to a 3-year-old isn’t going to sell with a kid getting ready for middle school. Early infancy is the most rapid stage of development, but kids grow quickly throughout the phases of childhood. With each new step, they gain a set of new faculties that influence both their preferences in products, brand mascots, and the packages that showcase them. There are plenty of resources going over the stages of childhood development, and you’d best do your homework before you start planning for packaging.
Have Fun with it
The world has enough sad clowns. Sometimes, proceeding into the design process with what you think kids will like can miss the mark. The easiest solution is to embrace your inner child and come up with branding and packaging that’s fun to make in the first place. If you’re letting your imagination run wild and having a blast with it, there’s a good chance that kids will follow suit. So, knock yourself out, get creative, and put some real joy behind making your product shine.