Product packaging is the last opportunity to convince a consumer to select your product from all of the competing options on the shelf. In order for your product packaging to be effective, it must achieve several goals.
There is not one magic formula that guarantees success. And, our team at Costello Creative Group is grateful for the variety, because otherwise it would be an incredibly boring design world and we wouldn’t get to exercise our creativity.
Even though we never follow a formula when creating a package design for our Clients, we do follow a checklist of best practices. Here’s an inside peek at what our team considers when designing product packaging.
Goals of Product Packaging
Regardless of the specific design decisions that are made on product packaging – such as what colors are chosen or what materials are used—effective product packaging needs to accomplish three things:
1. Be visible
You already lost to your competition if your product packaging isn’t distinctive on the shelf. It’s critical that your product packaging stands out—and sometimes standing out means not imitating others. Minimalist design might work for Apple, but it won’t be successful for all brands or products.
Packaging must communicate a product’s intended use and the brand that’s behind it. Having one without the other is guaranteed to fail. Consumers spend only seconds trying to discern this info and we must make it easy for them. They need to know why the product exists and we can help them understand this by using the product packaging to show functional benefits and to elicit an emotional response—which helps make the packaging more memorable.
Product packaging needs to help ‘close the deal’ and encourage a consumer to purchase the product.
While the exact elements required for each product vary, here are some things to keep in mind when determining product packaging.
1. Keep it simple
While there is sometimes a lot to communicate, if the product packaging gets too complex, it won’t appeal to your target audience or will fail to communicate because the basics get lost in the clutter. It’s definitely a balancing act to be sure that all goals of product packaging are getting equal coverage.
2. Appeal to your target audience
Define the target audience you want your product packaging to appeal to, and design for that audience. From color selections to type used, there are various design elements that have been tested to work better for different audiences.
3. UPC codes
A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a standard global identifier that allows a product to be sold, reordered and tracked through a supply chain. You first need a UPC before you can create a barcode, a graphic symbol that communicates data, and you need to make sure the barcode is easily scanned.
4. Volume and weight
There are specific Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for this information that design firms must follow. It’s important to include volume and weight for the product in U.S. and metric measurements.
5. Warnings and labeling requirements
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has product specific labeling requirements that must be adhered to. Additional considerations include allergy warnings—90 percent of allergic reactions are caused by eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, shellfish, fish and wheat so if the product could have come into contact with any of these during production or actually include them, they must be listed.
While not always welcome on the design of the packaging, if the product is certified—organic, kosher, fair trade, etc.—the packaging needs to include the certification entity’s name and logo. The good news about these certifications is that it can boost sales of products.
7. Product description
Don’t forget to include a product description on your product packaging to make the product’s purpose crystal clear to a consumer.
Yes, the product should be represented in the best way possible, but the product packaging also has be an accurate representation of what’s inside. Honesty is always the best policy.
9. Designed for the future
Strong product packaging not only allows flexibility for variants in the product such as different flavors, but it’s also adaptable to product extensions that might happen in the future.
How is the benefit of the product being communicated? Is it strong enough to give the consumer a reason to buy? Product packaging must convey how the functional benefits of the product can fulfill a higher need.
There are lots of considerations when it comes to the essentials needed for strong product packaging. No matter how extraordinary your product is, if the product packaging isn’t strong, sales can suffer. Our professional design team offers a complimentary project assessment to help you sort through your product package project. Contact us today to begin collaborating.
Share a photo of a package design that you love or hate and why in the comments below, and we’ll respond with our thoughts.