Packaging is an essential part of modern life. It keeps products from being contaminated, makes them easier to transport, and helps consumers organize their lives.
Product packaging refers to the design of a product’s exterior. This includes choices in materials, forms, graphics, colors, and fonts that are used on wrapping, a box, a can, or any kind of container.
In our Ultimate Guide to Product Packaging Design, we examine how to get your packaging to communicate the message you want.
Before designing the packaging for a product, it is important to know the answers to these three questions:
1. What is the product’s purpose?
Determining whether your product packaging must be secure or custom can help you choose the best packaging for your product. For example, a delicate product may require extra protection, while something large or oddly shaped may need a custom solution.
2. Who is the target market for the product?
Before you start designing a package, you must understand your target market. Products for older adults may require larger text. Alternatively, items geared towards an affluent customer should be made from premium materials that create a feeling of luxury.
3. How are customers purchasing the product?
Packaging is different for retail than it is for online sales. Retail packaging needs to protect the product while still attracting the consumer’s attention. For online sales, it is more important than the product fits into its packaging well and can be shipped safely and efficiently.
If you’ve got your answers, you’re ready to move on to the next step in the packaging design process.
Packaging Design in 7 Steps
1. Know the different layers of packaging.
Product packaging often includes three layers: outer packaging, inner packaging, and product packaging. Your product may benefit from one or all three of these.
The outer packaging is the first thing customers see when they purchase your product. It should protect the product from damage during shipping or storage.
Inner packaging keeps your product safe from damage in transit. This might be packing peanuts, tissue paper, or a sealed bag.
Product packaging is the outer container that houses a product. It can be a box, bottle, bag, or wrapper.
2. Select the right packaging for your product.
There are many types of packaging available for your product:
Choosing between a box and a bottle may sometimes be a no-brainer. But sometimes it’s not. Here are a couple of things you need to think about when selecting the right type of packaging for your product:
Liquid products are more limited in their packaging options. However, this does not mean that you cannot find ways to increase sales. Capri Sun and Go-Gurt have both succeeded by creating innovative packaging for their products.
Boxed soups may lose out to canned varieties in the grocery stores that favor cans, but you can use this to your advantage by marketing your product as a premium offering that consumers are not used to seeing.
When considering the packaging for your product, you should keep in mind the target market for it. If your charms are going to sell for $15 each, a simple inexpensive box is probably your best bet. But if they’re handcrafted gold keepsakes that you are selling for $150, you may be better served to up your budget and go for that luxury star-shaped box.
3. Prepare your printer to print.
You should think about printing your design long before it’s complete. Not only will connecting with a printer ensure you’re solid on the costs of printing, but they’ll be able to give you specific information that can help your designer prepare files.
It is important to supply your printer with print-ready files. These are usually Adobe Illustrator (.ai), Photoshop (.psd), and PDF or EPS files. Your designer will supply visual mockups in a PNG or JPG format (which everyone can open).
4. Plan your information architecture
If you think back to the three questions I asked earlier, specifically who is buying your product and where they are finding it, you will be able to create an information architecture for your package.
Packaging that illustrates how to use your product, or makes it clear how it benefits the customer, is vital to making sure that your customers remember you when they’re ready to buy. Designviva will create packaging that clearly illustrates how to use your product, or makes it clear how it benefits the customer.
Your product’s design should highlight the one most important thing you want your customers to know.
You can then add 2-3 things you want to show once they’ve picked up your product (or clicked on your link) that will close the deal. Let’s look at an example:
5. Evaluate a packaging design’s appeal to consumers.
Please review the following suggestions before proceeding with your design:
Is it clear what your product is?
When considering your packaging, ask yourself: “Does it make sense to the buyer?” Someone who is not already familiar with your product will have a tough time making an informed decision if they do not understand what the packaging says.
It’s important to ensure that your product packaging doesn’t mislead consumers into thinking they’re buying one thing when it’s actually another.
6. Formulate survey questions.
It is important to get feedback from key stakeholders and people who have never heard of or used your product before you settle on a packaging design.
Even if you are working closely with people who know your product intimately, it’s important to get input from others outside the company. Ask them:
What purpose does this product serve?
Who is the target market for this product?
What is the one message you are trying to convey with this packaging?
To find out whether your packaging is communicating what you want it to, ask these questions of your target audience. If you get the answers you’re looking for, fine-tune the packaging. If not, go back to your designer and see what changes need to be made.
7. Request the appropriate files from your designer.
You have decided on your packaging design. Congratulations!
Next, check the information you received from your printer to make sure you have the correct files. You probably need:
You must provide packaging dielines in vector format. These should be in Adobe Illustrator (.ai), .pdf, or .eps files. You must have one for each variation of the packaging you are creating. (So, if you have 3 flavors of soda, you need 3 dielines.)
Packaging design glossary
If your printer offers custom colors, be sure to obtain the Pantone or CMYK codes so that everything will print as you envision it.
Following is a brief guide to some of the terms used in packaging design:
- Adobe Illustrator (AI) file.
- Barcodes (UPC and EAN).
- Digital printing.
- Offset printing.
- Raster file type.
- Vector file type.
Packaging is an essential component of every product.