Product packaging is a branch of graphic design. Factually, it is an industry in itself: at multinational design agencies. There are hundreds of designers dedicated to creating strong brands through the packaging and branding of wholesale mailer boxes. Product packaging is a growing category waiting for talented designers to expand their portfolios. But discernment is not enough when designing for this challenging field. Let us take a look at what good packaging design looks like.
Clarity and simplicity
Next time you go to the supermarket, pick up the shelf of your choice and look at some products. Look carefully at each product and ask yourself two simple questions
- What is this product using for?
- What is the brand behind it?
It is a great example of a simple, clear, and personal packaging design.
You will be surprise by how difficult it is to find answers to these basic questions in four seconds. It is the longest time the average consumer spends on a shelf for a product.
We have also seen some products make broad claims about their efficacy without a clear brand name. You will also find products that look good on the outside, but do not explain what’s inside the package. There is also packaging for cleaning products suitable for children’s juices.
It is a bad example! Do you think this cleaning product looks dangerous? This packaging design may confuse consumers and not provide clear information.
While some product categories, such as fragrances and luxury goods, allow for some mystique, not identifying content, purpose, or brand identity is a poor practice that often results in packaging designs that do not work well on the shop floor. So remember the first rule: be clear about the product and the brand.
People who are new to packaging design, be it a client or a designer, often try to represent the product in the most perfect way imaginable. It looks like you buy chocolate-covered cookies and regular chocolate-flavored cookies. You use fruit yogurt to represent rich, fresh cherries, but with very little fruit in them.
If you portray a product 10 times better than it is, you will mislead consumers and disappoint them, which will only lead to poor sales and a very bad brand image.
This product may taste good, but the packaging is misleading. For a comparison of packaged and real food, see this site. That’s what honesty is all about. Consumers don’t mind simple, cheap products, as long as they know what they’re buying! As a designer, your job is to make your products look their best, but you must not forget to treat your consumers right, including yourself.
We can easily say that originality, recognition, and memorability are the core of a good brand and good packaging design core.
It’s easy to understand. There are hundreds of products in the world, all vying for consumers’ attention. The only way to make your brand stand out is to be different and authentic.
It’s impossible to advise on “authentic,” especially when we face countless brands, looks, and appeals these days. This packaging design by Colin Porter-Bell is a great example of an authentic and striking packaging design.
From a shopper’s perspective, a product can never be seen in isolation or detail. Due to the visual distance from the shelves and the line of products, only exact samples of different products can be seen. A sample catches your eye, and you decide to take a closer look.
This uniqueness and attractiveness of a product on the shelf, known in the retail industry as the “shelf effect”, has a significant impact on product sales. It is what we see in supermarkets. Which products are you taking interest first?
Product packaging design concepts should facilitate the expansion of new product lines (product variants) and the introduction of sub-brands.
Take the packaging design of a new brand of apple juice as an example. You and the client decide on a design with an apple pattern that looks good. However, a few months later, the client decided to launch a cherry-flavored product for the same brand.
A good custom packaging design can easily change without losing its appeal. However, they were disappointed when they realized that the original design philosophy was to rely on Apple. Plus, cherries are good and need to be communicate upfront, which goes against the idea. Will there be scalability issues?
Packaging design is a great design discipline that constantly needs designers who can combine product originality with sales performance. Packaging is the last message consumers see and their last chance to persuade them to buy a product. Clarity, honesty, truth, and the other rules mentioned above play an important role in this process but are by no means the final answer to this question.