Packaging Design 101

20 October 2020

Creating a successful packaging design process can be challenging if you're unsure of where to begin. Many elements go into packaging creation, from current market trends and colorways to studying your competition and the transformation of different packaging styles. Product packaging design companies, like The Packaging Lab, also offer creative assistance if you need guidance in developing an effective packaging design for your product.

Design Elements to Consider

An effective packaging design can go a long way, not only in the success of your product sales but for attracting potential customers. There are many design elements to consider when it comes to packaging design, and poor packaging can be detrimental in numerous ways. It's encouraged to study current market trends and become familiar with what your competition is doing. Today's shoppers are drawn to unique packaging designs that cater to their interests and needs, so let's get started.

Environmental Friendliness

As the packaging industry has continued to evolve, advancements have been made available and popular materials. Today's consumer market is drawn to types of packaging and products that promote safety for our environment, meaning this is a vital detail to consider when designing your packaging. Manufacturers can incorporate many different packaging materials into their packaging design, from recycled cardboard or paper and organic fabrics to eco-friendly or recycled plastics and biodegradable packing peanuts.

Product Misrepresentation

Potential customers expect your product packaging to directly reflect the product itself, and not with any extra bells and whistles. When designing your product's packaging, you must account for any false advertising or product misrepresentation. Those interested in your product are looking for accurate product sizing, and feature details as this helps build an honest and trustworthy relationship. If your product packaging is a direct representation of your product, your customers will continue returning and likely refer your product to friends and family.

Keep an Eye Out for Errors

Like product misrepresentation, it's essential to continually look out for errors in your packaging copy and overall design. Accuracy checks should be completed regularly, so any errors can be caught early on rather than having to recall your product after it has already been put on retailer shelves. Suppose your product does get put on shelves with errors. In that case, many customers won't complete a purchase with noticeable mistakes, as this portrays a lack of investment in design on the manufacturer's end. Once your packaging design is complete, it's encouraged to ask for proofs as this allows you to catch any design errors early on.

Consumer Convenience

Shoppers of today are attracted to products that allow for convenience. Convenience can be showcased in many different ways, from sealing features and tamper-proof designs to packaging reusability. Potential customers will be more curious about your product if both the packaging and the product cater directly to their unique needs with no extra work required. You can incorporate many different sealing features into your packaging design, so customers don't feel the pressure of needing to use the product in its entirety right away. Manufacturers can also utilize certain materials to promote reusability, which encourages the consumer to use the packaging for other needs before throwing away. Incorporating tamper-proof features into your packaging design will also help guarantee that your product is fresh, especially if it's a food, health, or beauty item.

Standing Out From Competition

There is intense competition in every industry today, each directly targeting the consumer market in one way or another. So how do you remain different and build your brand? Since many retailers place similar products next to each other on the shelves, it's beneficial to study your competition and identify ways to differentiate and draw more attention to your product. Shoppers are usually drawn to products that look unique. This could be as easy as a bold design, bright colors, or even something that promotes minimalism. If your packaging doesn't stand out compared to your competition, your product could likely be overlooked. Manufacturers are encouraged to stay up to date with what competition is doing and current market trends.

What About Colorways?

Did you know that the colors you incorporate into your packaging design can significantly impact sales and how you target your audience? There is a broad spectrum of colorways that express certain emotions and convey appropriate messages. When creating your packaging design, you must identify what you're trying to communicate to your target audience, as specific colors may draw more results than others.

  • Red: Are you looking for a way to grab a potential buyer's attention? Including red in your packaging design conveys excitement, passion, and energy. However, on the flip side, it can also mean danger and caution. Red is an excellent color to catch a consumer's eye, but it's essential to be conscious of how and when it's incorporated.

  • Orange: Construction companies, children's products, and DIY items tend to use orange in their packaging designs as it is commonly associated with creativity, enthusiasm, and adventure. Orange is a bright and vibrant color that can be overwhelming if too much is present, making it an excellent choice for emphasis areas or a call to action.
  • Yellow: Don't you love feeling happy, optimistic, and warm – especially if you live in a colder climate? If your answer is yes, incorporating yellow into your packaging design communicates these feelings to consumers. It's all sunshine and happiness unless there's too much, then it can be jarring, and unsettling so don't get too carried away.
  • Green: Eco-friendly living has continued to rise in popularity, and green is a perfect way to display your support for these beliefs. The color green conveys nature or money, so it can really go both ways. Another way manufacturers can use green in their packaging design is by signifying between right or wrong, say in an instruction manual, or something of the sort – green would mean "right" and red would mean "wrong."

  • Blue: If a manufacturer incorporates blue into their packaging design, they're likely attempting to convey trust, stability, and peace of mind to their customers. Tech companies, Facebook, Twitter, and healthcare companies are a few examples of brands that have blue in their packaging and/or logo designs.

  • Purple: Does your product fall into a luxury category or industry? Purple promotes nobility and luxury, but it's better that it's used in small doses as too much can come off as overbearing or make potential customers feel inferior. Purple is best used as an accent in your packaging design, rather than the primary colorway.

  • White: At times, packaging designs and products can be complex and overwhelming. If you're looking for a way to avoid this, incorporating white into your design can help make a complicated product seem simple. For example, the Apple iPhone uses an all-white box to simplify the complexity of smartphones.

  • Black: Manufacturers include black in their packaging design to communicate control, power, and class. Black is an excellent addition to another brand identity color and a colorway that holds a lot of weight in any packaging design.

Packaging Design Trends

Both product packaging and design are essential elements that help you establish your brand. Many different trends are popular today, but manufacturers are ultimately encouraged to study market competition, which will help gain traction in your industry. Developing a unique packaging design will help make an impact on your target audience and raise brand awareness.

Lifestyle Influences

Many consumers are drawn to or practicing certain lifestyles, such as green living or minimalism. Creating your packaging design to cater to these preferences will help you attract a large customer base. With a minimalist design, manufacturers will sway away from bold or brightly colored packaging and focus more on simplicity, transparency, and honesty. If you're looking to cater to an audience that advocates for green living, being conscious of your materials is key. Suppose you incorporate sustainable features such as eco-friendly or biodegradable packaging materials. In that case, individuals will be drawn to your product as they feel you're invested in the care of our environment.

Besides green living or minimalism, today's shoppers are also drawn to supporting local and vintage designs. If you're a local independent seller, developing a packaging design that communicates a handcrafted product is extremely helpful. Personalized packaging displays the level of thought and care that is incorporated into every product you produce. Additionally, popularity has continued to grow in vintage designs as the consumer market is drawn to a product that conveys authenticity and purity. Today, many products are equipped with extra bells, whistles, and features, which can be overwhelming for the average customer. Creating a vintage-inspired design will promote product simplicity and the exquisite experience your potential customer is looking for.

Stand Behind Your Product

An eccentric and personalized packaging design will help carry your product home as consumers are drawn to uniqueness rather than the norm. There are many different creative elements that you can incorporate or get inspired from, such as Atypical or 8-bit. Each of these encourages customer interaction and communicates nostalgia for a past popular time or event. Along with being unique in your packaging, transparency is also encouraged. Your customers want to know what's in your product and any other essential details. If you incorporate product ingredients and additional pressing information into your packaging design, this will show potential customers that you stand behind your product through and through.

Using Colors to Your Advantage

While giving special attention to colorways is hugely beneficial in your packaging design's success, there are many other ways colors can be used creatively to impact product sales positively. Many manufacturers have begun incorporating gradients, which have been proven to introduce an impressive level of depth and complexity into any packaging design. Gradients can appear in a variety of forms, but a few of the most popular are:

  • Neutral & Pastel: Lighter colors in a packaging design promote calmness and welcoming emotions. Many manufacturers are incorporating neutral and pastel gradients to make consumers feel compassionate for the product.

  • Bold & Bright: Utilizing bold or bright color gradients in your packaging design helps grab the consumer's attention and make an impact. Often, manufacturers mix these gradient styles with different patterns to influence a range of exciting and delightful emotions.

How Has Packaging Evolved?

Packaging has come a long way on all accounts, from materials used and consistency to functionality and overall design. Whether you're familiar with the evolution of the soda can or have been following the improvements of flexible packaging, manufacturers can choose from various packaging options when creating their design today. There is even the opportunity to create custom packaging branding for your product, so you can stand out from the competition and get the product sales you've been aiming for.

The Soda Can

Many of us have purchased a soda from a grocery or convenience store for a sweet treat, but have you ever wondered how it all began? Napoleon Bonaparte, a French Military and political leader, was the brains behind the invention of the soda can we know today as food preservation was needed for the French Military. Unfortunately, by the time Nicolas Appert created a solution in 1806, the French Military was no longer, but the British Army and Royal Navy found great use. Once Appert's design was released, changes and additions continued to be made with an end result of the soda can we know today. Primarily used for beer and soda, there were a few different sealing features that brought us to where we are now:

  • Flat-Top
  • Cone-Top
  • Ring-Pull

Create the Perfect Packaging Design Today

As you can tell, many different parts go into developing a successful packaging design. You must consider each of these elements as developing a creative packaging design will help set your product up for success. If you're unsure of where to begin, there are many resources you can utilize for packaging design inspiration like Pinterest. Here at The Packaging Lab, we have a team of design experts ready to help you develop your next packaging. Start getting inspired today, so you can create the perfect packaging design for your product.