The Importance of Effective Packaging Design
How important, really, is well presented packaging?
Wouldn’t a quality product, from a company with a good track record, almost sell itself?
Well unless your product is a consumer device, and your company is Apple, Microsoft or Sony, then probably not, no.
Just like the cover of a book, product packaging is a great attractor – especially to a male audience believe it or not; research has shown that men are much more ‘susceptible’ to visual stimuli than women.
That is not to say, of course, that women are not attracted to beautiful packaging; because packaging design done right, by a professional packaging design company, will always have shelf appeal.
When all is said and done, businesses are in it to make money – even charities and nonprofits need to make money in order to survive, so let’s not be coy and pretend that money is a four letter word, because it isn’t and neither is profit.
The ultimate goal of any packaging design agency is to make even the most mundane of products seem a little more glamorous, and to influence the purchasing decisions of the people looking for that particular type of product.
The three main areas that people will always be shopping in, whatever the time of year, are going to be the ones where packaging design has to be at its most influential in order to draw the eye, and wallet, of the consumer.
Three purchasing staples where package design becomes a blood sport.
How many times have you seen an advertisement, or product box on a shelf, for a beauty product with an impossibly beautiful woman with impeccable makeup?
More than one agent out there have had their wrists slapped for airbrushing photographs, and making almost impossible claims about their products.
Aside from just looking good, and being factually honest, great package design should also convey a message to the consumer and also show the functionality, and application of the product.
A lot of the time, the target audience is the one that has not used your product before, so being able to see at a glance, and in short easy steps, how your product can be effectively applied can be as important as the rest of the design. While this is an important consideration, you should be wary of brand loyalty – the best packaging designers will be trying to retain the hearts and minds of the customers you already have, and not just focus on attracting more; important as that may be.
Beauty products are considered by many, both men and women, as being essential purchases and can spend hundreds every year, if not more, and the competition between the companies is massive. As the differences between products from company A and company B become harder to spot, the packaging becomes ever more important in the battle for the consumer.
As the health of the nation changes, and dietary requirements shift, so too must the packaging of our food reflect these needs.
Conveying certain essential information is vital here, and not just because it is a legal requirement. Providing nutritional information may be a must, but it does not have to be plain and boring; great packaging design does not end where legalities begin.
Packaging for foodstuffs can be a little different in other ways too, as sometimes the ‘target’ audience is a child.
In these cases characters can play an important role, especially if there is a brand tie-in with a well known company that produces child focused content, or indeed if you produce that content yourself.
The majority of bottled drinks look pretty much the same; clear packaging, bright label and large logo. These are all well and good, and many of the better known brands can be identified from a distance whilst others merely become background distractions to the main players.
Pepsi and Coca Cola are the old masters, and they hardly even have to try any more – but you can bet that they still spend more money on packaging design than it costs to actually mix the drink products that they produce.
The design of the packaging for drinks then is crucial, and very often you will only get one shot at it; first impressions last, and even if you change the design later that first howler will still be remembered.
Having your logo placed front and centre, and clear of surrounding visual distraction, is an important consideration for brand recognition and clearer visibility on the shelf.
However, more and more, we are seeing beautifully designed drinks packaging which breaks away from the norm. Leaving us with visually stunning packaging which draws us into a purchase. This is especially evident within the alcoholic drinks sector.
The nature of the drink is also an important factor, and much thought should be given as to who the drink is actually for. Drinks aimed at children would, naturally, be easy to hold in small hands and be made of opaque material; liquid is rarely ‘exciting’ to look at, and the available real estate of the whole package should be utilised. This is also an excellent opportunity to use form, in the case of plastic bottles, and perhaps sculpt the container into the shape of a character or fruit – adults may not be attracted by this kind of packaging design, but children surely will, and you know they tend to get what they want.
Unique design is an important factor for all kinds of product and produce, as is the material being used. People today are more aware of the environment, and the working conditions of the people involved in creating the product.
In creating a design, a packaging design agency has to take these things into consideration as well as how the packaging is constructed physically; any item that could be considered as being fragile, such as tech, glassware and even bags of crisps (how many times have you heard people complaining about the amount of air in their bags? it’s not an accident, you know).
If you have ever treated yourself to a new smartphone, how would you have reacted if all there was to protect your phone was a cardboard box with a beautiful design on the exterior?
You would expect the box to be compartmentalised, for various peripherals, and in such a way as to provide a certain amount of restricted movement for its contents too.
Renewable packaging, or packaging that can be recycled easily, is becoming increasingly important as is the need to move away from mixed materials. Commonsense tells us that people are much more likely to recycle, if the packing material can be separated from one another for easy sorting.
With the renewable material savvy consumer predominantly buying products with recyclable packaging, it makes sense to use single source packaging for your products. Properly informing your target consumer, via labels and seals on your packaging, that you are an ‘ethical’ company with similar standards and requirements of the Fairtrade Foundation is also important when attracting people from that certain demographic.
As alluded to a little further up the page, shape and size also play a role in the design of the packaging. Standard ‘boxes’ are easy to pack and stack, but they lack sex appeal and originality.
When thinking of what direction you would like to take your packaging design, including how it is shaped, your existing products should be taken into consideration. Any new packaging design should reflect not just the item inside, but also the rest of your brand. A company that is known for its stark design, and ‘more is less’ approach, should not be putting new product packaging designs on shelf, that are brightly coloured with a hundred different things going on.
This also ties in to the truth of your packaging, which is essentially a visual product description. Consumers expect the image to match the product, and if the pack displays a miniature polka dot flying horse that can walk on ceilings, then there had better be one in the box.
Much thought needs to be given to text placement too, with writing that has a white background being much easier to read and ‘take in’ than text that does not.
When it comes to innovative packaging, there is a lot to be said for the multipurpose pack. Jewelers have been doing it for years – their jewelry boxes being used to store their precious cargo, and not just to present it to the customer.
A beauty product container, that can double as something else once the product inside is removed or used up, would have much more appeal than a plastic tub that gets thrown out with the garbage.
There is so much thought that has to go into creating the perfect package,that professional packaging design agencies are in high demand – and for very good reason.