If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably made a purchase based solely on the packaging of a product.
Or chose one pack of gum over another just because one was shinier or more fun to look at.
Hey, we’re not calling you out, it’s a very common and very human thing to do!
And your clients depend on your expertise to get consumers to do the same.
They want people to pick their products over others that may essentially be the same thing and they count on your graphic design skills to help them get their product flying off of those shelves.
That’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders there, so you’ll want as much advice as you can get so that you’re hitting the mark each and every time, especially if you’re a new creative or new to package design.
What’s so important about package design, anyway?
Not only does attractive packaging build brand identity and recognition, but it also protects the product during shipping and storage, communicates key information about what’s inside, and can provide a unique experience to the buyer.
In fact, packaging plays a critical role in the entire product experience, from first impressions on the shelf or Amazon listing, to that grand opening on your kitchen table (or in the parking lot if they just can’t wait).
Because of that, it’s crucial that everyone involved in the packaging process, from the designers to the copywriters to the creative directors, know everything they can about the art of package design.
And because it’s so important, we’ve asked the Designity community to send us their best advice and input on packaging design.
The Packaging Design Process
Every Creative Director and creative has their winning process, the internal steps that they follow to make sure that what they are creating is of the highest quality and in line with the client’s brand.
Here are CD Ruggero’s steps to packaging success:
“Here’s how I break it down:
I figure out if there’s a template to work from. If there isn’t, I’ll get all of the specs of the product and create one myself. After that, I’ll work up a flat design, keeping everything clean and true to the client’s brand. Then I’ll have a few rounds of mockups onto photos of the product, so I can see what it’ll look like from all angles.
The last step is a sprint of prints, tests, and revisions until all the kinks are ironed out and I have a final product ready for printing.”
Packaging Design Best Practice
To keep your client’s package design looking sharp, here are some best practice ideas from our expert CDs and creatives.
CD Angela: “Besides the functionality and materials, some things that are important to me is having a complete understanding of the brand, the product, and how the consumer will engage with it.
You have to think about the overall packaging experience for the consumer, from start to finish, not just when they see the product on the shelf. It’s so important that every touchpoint is a positive experience.”
CD Cristin: “Anything to make folks smile for packaging. Here, we included plays on Magic (the brand is Wizard) with the sticky labels and packing tape. And here (in the title image above) we did a play on Safeco Insurance as Cambell’s soup. I love when folks need to take a second glance at a hidden message.”
CD Sitara: “Overall thoughts: Print will never be dead because of packaging. Also, COVID has increased the e-commerce and non-brick-to-mortar product shipping industry, making it more important than ever to keep packaging light and small in order to keep shipping costs down.
From a branding and design perspective, it’s a huge opportunity for brands to set themselves apart from the competition by offering creative and original designs.
The beauty of package design is that designers can leverage the added user’s sense of touch, e.g., by using a paper stock with a unique texture. You can even incorporate the user’s sense of smell by incorporating scents into your packaging."
Creative Meghan: “Be sure to design in CMYK or Pantone colors, and always pay attention to your die lines.”
What Creatives Should Know
And some parting wisdom to wrap us up:
Creative Nicolle’s Designer Tips:
1. Consider your customer and design for them. You need to know who your target audience is (or who you want them to be) and design for them.
2. Consider color theory. Different colors will evoke different emotions.
3. Good design for packaging should always take into account functionality. The goal is for someone to pick up your packaging, so if it's hard to read, that’s a problem. Too much intricate detail may be a problem with printing too, and we should consider the stock it’s being printed on as well during the design phase.
4. You definitely need to think about where the folds and flaps are in the package. We need to consider the retail regulations that need to be clearly seen. It’s best to have this figured out first, so you don’t have to redesign later.
5. I would say “Less is more” for package design. Don’t use more than two fonts, don’t cram a bunch of text and info into a small space. I would go as far as to say that a minimalistic design with lots of white space would be more enticing for a customer to pick up and explore than something that is overwhelmed with information.
6. Trends are fun, but they are just that. Trends. You don’t want your design to be out of style almost immediately, especially if your client puts lots of money into production.
CD Sitara’s Designer Tips:
2. Make sure to design in CMYK color mode or PMS colors for the best color accuracy. Use unique paper stock and finishes, like UV coats, custom laser cuts, etc. to elevate your designs. It adds cost, of course, but it’s worth it to be creative and elevate the design.
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Get out there and create!
We hope that this has been a helpful resource as you continue to grow and develop as a designer.
Bookmark this page and feel free to return to it whenever you need some inspiration and advice from an expert!
What’s your favorite package design project?