Today’s retail environment is highly competitive place.
• 70% of purchase decisions are made in store
• 10% of shoppers switch brand inside a store
The most effective and profitable brands are those that stand out distinctively—and packaging design is a critical element for effective brand standout. Whether you’re developing a new brand for launch to market or rebranding an existing brand, the right packaging design can give your brand crucial visibility, helping your products stand out on retail shelves in markets where there is more competition than ever before, and attract more customers who will buy and remain loyal to your brand. Make no mistake, great packaging design is a critical part of any successful brand strategy if you want to grow your business and increase your profitability.
Top 16 Brand Packaging Design Tips
Effective and eye-catching pack design is more than simply being different, because poor packaging design can torpedo your branding efforts and sink your profits. These sixteen tips will help keep you on trend and help you develop strong brand packaging design that catches the attention of your customers, so your products can fly off the shelves.
1. Packaging Design is an Investment
Many brands fail to ascribe enough significance to packaging design, and this is a mistake that will ultimately cost you in multiple ways. An investment in high quality package design signifies to customers that your brand has value. When you increase the perceived value of your brand through distinctive, creative, carefully evaluated and well-executed packaging design, you’re able to compete with other products in your range and charge a premium price.
2. Packaging Packed with Personality
Zig when others zag! If you do things differently and develop a really compelling personality for your brand, using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™, and then bring it to life visually through all your brand collateral, in this case your brand packaging, it can have massive shelf impact.
Assuming you’ve thoroughly developed your brand’s personality and what it stands for etc. you should pick out key characteristics of your brand’s character, tone of voice, story, humour, language and leverage them to maximum effect in your packaging design in a way that’s relevant to your primary customer. It’s these kinds of details that capture attention, create distinction, engender engagement, provoke emotional engagement and help build a long term loyal and profitable customer base.
3. Study the Competition
While it’s definitely important for your packaging to stand apart, you also need to consider the known “lingo” of product category packaging—the aspects that signify what the product is, in a way your customers are already familiar with. Look to successful brands in your space and consider what their package design has in common. This does not necessarily refer just to packaging colours, but also the physical or structural design, materials used, on pack messaging and so forth. Your packaging must be distinctively different but your customers must still be able to relate to it in a way that’s relevant to them and their needs within that product category.
4. Opt for Clarity and Simplicity
The most successful brand packaging is iconic and easily recognizable—and when it comes to package design, usually less is more. Your product packaging should convey your brand at a glance, and instantly tell the customer what your product is for. Developing a clear and simple package design will go a long way toward giving your brand increased visibility on store shelves.
5. Keep it Honest
Packaging design should make your product look attractive, but not at the expense of honesty. A misleading package design that promises something not contained in the package will damage your reputation and your brand—for example, depicting a chocolate-drenched dessert on a tin of simple chocolate-flavoured biscuits is not an accurate representation of the product inside!
6. Be Authentic
Authenticity can be a difficult characteristic to define, but your customers know it when they see it. Strive to develop packaging that is authentic to your brand’s values, promise, story, alignments, platforms, and positioning statements etc. A sense of character and originality infused with your pack design can help you build a memorable brand that engages customers while also enhance brand perceptions in terms of being seen as a brand that is real and authentic – true to its purpose.
7. Differentiate Visually
A twist on the standard design styles for your product categories can help your brand enjoy increased visibility, allowing you to stand out from a sea of similar products. For instance, if most of your competitors use a horizontal layout, design along the vertical in your packaging. If the majority of similar items feature product photography, consider type-based designs, icons, or illustrations.
The choice of signature brand colours is another great way to differentiate. One striking example is Rachel’s Organic products, which use primarily black packaging for products such as butter and yogurt to jump out on retail shelves or O’Egg which uses pink on its white egg packaging.
8. Pay Attention to Typography
The words used on your package design matter—not just what they are, but how they look and what they say. Stunning typography is an eye-catching differentiator for your packaging. Choose distinctive, premium fonts with high readability, and pay attention to spacing (kerning), the size of the text, and the colour in comparison to the rest of the package design.
The naming conventions used, together with language style chosen and messaging conveyed in the creative copywriting on your packaging design can add immensely to enhancing your brand’s personality and connecting emotionally with your primary audience. Remember, people buy with emotion and justify with rationale—male or female.
Dutch private label brand HEMA is a striking example of the effect of great typography. The company’s line of ready-to-eat lunch items features a handwritten-style design of labels with a very distinctive font, and simple colour bands that help to quickly categorize items in a visual nature.
9. Embrace Green
With more customers increasingly conscious of environmental issues, investing in eco-friendly, sustainable packaging design is a smart move for any brand, not too mention helping improve your brand’s carbon footprint. Whether the packaging is limited to reduce the amount of waste, or made from recycled, biodegradable, or reusable materials, going green with your packaging can make your products more attractive and premium to customers. Sustainability is an increasingly important issue to customers and ‘responsible’ or ‘caring’ brands are seen to be more desirable.
10. Design for Durability
Depending on the supply chain process and the shelf life of your products, your packaging may require extended durability. Long-lasting packaging is especially important for slower moving, high value, consumer goods, but FMCG products will also require a high degree of durability. Damaged packaging at the point of sale or post-sale can have a very negative effect on your brand, as customers will view it as “cheap” or substandard quality.
11. Production and Manufacturing Constraints
It’s important to consider production line requirements, how your product will fill the packaging – is it hand packed or on an automated production line? What are the specific packing needs of both those environments?
When designing a pack, it’s also really important to take into account the final appearance of the product inside the package, to ensure an attractive overall presentation. Make sure the packaging is not too loose or too tight, and that it displays the product in an appealing way and that the colours or textures and so forth of the actual product are enhanced through the design of your packaging.
If something tastes incredible but visually doesn’t look too appealing then maybe you should not make it visible within your packaging design. On the other hand if yours is the kind of product that visually sells very well, particularly when enhanced with great packaging—like a lot of bakery goods or confectionery—or consumers really need to see it to make their purchasing decision such as with certain perishables like meat, fish or vegetables then you need to take this into account within your packaging design.
12. Choose an Unusual Shape
Package design with an unusual shape can be a very challenging process, but very worthwhile for the right idea. A uniquely shaped package truly stands out on retail shelves and can become a trademark protectable and uniquely valuable asset of your brand. Other important design choices here include display considerations, such as allowing the package to stand or stack on shelves appropriately too.
Gloji uses a unique package design to fantastic effect with its light bulb-shaped juice bottles, which are meant to represent the healthy properties of the beverage that “light you up” from the inside.
13. Think Beyond the Shelf
Your package design should continue to work effectively even after purchase. Making a package that’s too difficult to open will turn off customers, making them less likely to stay loyal to your brand. Another consideration is product use. If all of the product won’t be used immediately, you’ll need a way for customers to reclose the package and store unused contents or portions. It also needs to ‘look attractive’ in the home or out of the retail environment so it continues to sell itself and reaffirm important, asset building brand values.
14. Choose Special Materials
Giving your package design a luxurious detail or two can help your brand stand out. Consider invoking the customer’s sense of touch through materials like velvet, wood veneer, or higher quality paper. Embossing, wax seals, hot foil stamping, and letterpress seals can also add a premium touch to your pack design.
15. Add The Personal Touch
Handmade, hand-crafted, or otherwise personal details can deliver a stand-out appearance to your brand packaging. Details that appear handwritten, handcrafted, hand-tied, or individually applied can add to a really premium sense of personalization for your products. You can even create an overall handmade look for your products with creative use of production techniques—UK based organic food company Kallo uses illustrations and traditional lino printing to give their product packaging handmade appeal.
Image via www.kallo.com
16. Focus on Shelf Impact
Shelf impact is a retail term that describes the way a product actually looks on store shelves—whether it blends in, or stands out. Even the most unique and distinctive package designs may not be effective if they don’t have shelf impact. This is a really important aspect of your packaging design to test before launching a product or package redesign.
Physically arrange your products on shelves, next to competitors’ items in the same product category—just as they would appear in stores. The more distinctive your product appears from the surrounding items, the better it will sell. Achieving shelf impact can take some experimentation, but it’s critically important and worth all the effort.
In fact you may be surprised to find that often overly elaborate designs tend to vanish or blend in on shelves, while simpler designs “pop” and stand out in amongst the visual barrage.
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So, what do you think?
• Is your current brand packaging design category appropriate yet distinctive, different and memorable?
• What are the distinctive elements of your packaging designs and are they on trend?
• Is your use of colour similar to, or distinctive from, your direct competitors? Have you developed your own signature brand colour palette?
• How could you use non-traditional shapes or materials in your packaging?
• Does your packaging design integrate appropriate environmental factors? Is it eco friendly?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!