5 Basics to The Secret Art of Packaging Design

Packaging design. It is one of the biggest hurdles for any new consumer product out there. Why consumers will notice it on the shelf? What do you do to ensure they know what the product is inside the packaging as well as how it will fit into their lives? How do you convince them to take it through the checkout line and hand the cashier their hard-earned money?

Well the short answer is, it’s complicated.

Obviously there is no single article on the internet that can give you a diagram for creating the perfect package design. However this article will give you a few basic ideas as to how to focus your energy.

1) Keep it As Simple as Possible – One of the biggest obstacles in packaging design is trying to “over-educate,” covering your entire package with instructions, diagrams, use cases, pictures, and information. Unfortunately this often has the opposite effect that you so ardently desire, making them not even want to pick your package up in the first place. Keep education about your product to a minimum. Think in terms of a select few “sound byte-type instructions.

2) Show or Don’t Show the Product – This decision needs to be made early because it impacts all aspects of the packaging design. Do you have a product that will enhance the desirability to the consumer? If you have a product that is uninteresting visually but serves an amazing purpose, don’t show it to the consumer. People make decisions first based on what they see. So, if your product looks boring or uninteresting, your product is boring or uninteresting. Focus on what it does, instead.

3) Use color to make your product stand out – There are countless studies on what colors attract people the most. But just going on those studies is not a wise move. Do some research to see what other brands are doing color-wise. Go look at a store shelf and see what colors are on the shelves in the aisle where your product would go. Then, do something to stand out! If all the products on your aisle are red, go with blue. It might not be the color that best represents what your product does, but it sure will stand out on the shelf.

“Packaging design is all about creating product awareness.”

4) Don’t go nuts with photos – Another pitfall is to go crazy with photos. Photos of the product. Pictures of people using the product. Images of the product on a warm summer’s day. As with instructions, don’t lose your point in a sea of images. Give the user one or two nice images to focus on and let them do the heavy lifting. If a picture is worth a thousand words why are you putting ten thousand of them on your packaging?

5) Think about the retailer – Add elements to your packaging that make it easier for retailers to display. If you can make it both a free-standing box and have it hang-able on a peg display then you have given the retailer options. This can greatly influence your product’s placement in the store. You don’t have to pay for end-cap space if you make your product retailer friendly—and if it sells, they will give you prime locations over other products simply because it is easier to do so.

Again, following these 5 guides won’t make a perfect package for you. There is still a lot of creativity and research that you need to do. But, if you follow these basics, you will be well on your way to making a package that flies off the shelves.