Developing a winning product is only part of the challenge in today’s consumer goods economy. Marketing and advertising also make a difference, as do service, support, and a thriving social media presence.
But custom packaging is often overlooked as an element of brand identity in modern business and deserves much more attention.
Product packaging design significantly impacts consumer perception, shelf appeal in retail and ecommerce, and the overall product experience from the shelf to home.
Regardless of the type of packaging, your logo design, and your packaging needs (whether you sell high-quality stickers or fresh food products), great packaging design ideas can help you stand out from your competition.
It’s time for businesses to emphasize the role of custom packaging design, make it part of their strategy to attract customers, and keep retailers and shoppers happy.
Everything from the packaging box design to your product label should be viewed as an opportunity for designing product packaging that makes a strong impact.
Here’s how packaging design influences consumer behavior and how you can use it to catapult your brand to new levels of success in your industry.
What Are the Basics of Product Packaging Design?
It’s easy to summarize product packaging as the “material containing your product,” but so much more goes into its design and execution.
From the consumer’s perspective, six key elements are taken into account, from the moment of first impression to the product package’s continued use and long-term utility.
Let’s walk through the six packaging design elements to see how these basics influence how your products are perceived and experienced.
1. Colors and Imagery
Visual appeal is number one in any interaction shoppers have with your product. An attractive, eye-catching package will use colors and aesthetic flourishes to convey the essence of a brand and communicate specific emotions and sensations that can’t necessarily be described in words.
The color green, for instance, gives a feeling of freshness, cleanliness, and eco-consciousness, while reds and oranges inspire energy, action, and passion.
Blues offer a calm, laid-back sense of luxury and security, while neutral whites and greys make a product seem professional and organized. Plan your color palette and ensure they translate to whichever packaging you choose.
These are subtle sensory inputs, but essential nevertheless when designing your product package for maximum impact.
Colors are just one part of the visual experience, of course. Other aspects of graphic design include photos, illustrations, ambient design elements, and fonts — all the tools you’d expect to find on Adobe Illustrator.
Since there is limited space on a container or flexible pouch, brands must be deliberate in structuring these designs so that the space is not overly cluttered or too sparse.
Label design is the first thing consumers experience when engaging with your product package, so give it the attention and effort it deserves.
In our world of information overload, it’s easy for consumers to miss out on crucial facts that inform their purchasing decisions.
The typical shopper is looking to get the maximum amount of information from a label with minimal time and effort, so labels cannot rely on paragraphs of fine print to get the message across.
Influential labels include the basics, such as the product type, unit count, level of strength or effectiveness, and any health or nutrition facts, if applicable. Some packages must also include warning labels, such as hazardous ingredients like cannabis or chemicals.
Finally, your company name and contact information must include on labels and expiration dates for perishable products.
Consumers may not perceive all these elements consciously, but they are often required by law and provide a sense of legitimacy and trust to shoppers everywhere.
Product packaging materials influence how your product looks and feels. They also serve as physical barriers that protect consumer goods as they travel the supply chain and fulfill their use in the target consumer environment.
Sturdy and robust materials offer durability, but these properties must be balanced with lightweight maneuverability and consumer convenience.
High-density polyethylene, for instance, offers top-tier toughness but may not deliver in terms of ease of use or accessibility for your target audience.
The challenge is finding materials that support your products both physically and branding-wise while sustaining structure and safety throughout the supply chain.
It’s no wonder why flexible packaging solutions like Mylar have grown in popularity recently over tried-and-true cardboard boxes, offering an ideal mix of strength, versatility, and barrier protection with a sleek and lightweight feel for everyday users.
The form is nothing without function; something is well known by leading brands from apparel to food and beauty supplies.
Your product package design can look great, feel good in the hands of shoppers, and make your brand seem untouchable — but this must be followed with a winning user experience to succeed.
For example, if your product package features a resealable zipper or claims to be smell-proof, it better back those claims up when users put them to the test. Boxes should remain sturdy, pouches should preserve freshness, and all other functions should be fulfilled without question.
Unfortunately, this is where many product packaging design concepts fail, and brands miss the chance to convert first-time buyers to lifelong supporters.
The good news is that your company can capitalize on those mistakes. You can set your brand apart by offering packages that live up to their claims and deliver functionality worth paying for, again and again.
5. Safety and Security
Product safety might not be top of mind for the average consumer, but it’s a key consideration from a brand standpoint.
A surprising number of products are potentially harmful when ingested or consumed improperly, from over-the-counter medications to small electronic components or skin care goods.
However unlikely the chance of such hazards, brands cannot afford to risk the possibility of an incident. Therefore, modern packaging designs prioritize security and user safety, adding child-resistant features to formats like pouches, tins, and cylindrical containers.
It’s a moral, legal, and common sense imperative for brands to include such safety mechanisms, so leave nothing to chance when designing your product packaging.
The silver lining is that child-resistant packaging solutions are more accessible and affordable than before, thanks to widespread regulation and increased industry standards.
Be sure to partner with a packaging supplier that recognizes the importance of child-resistant features and develops lab-certified solutions to keep your brand and users safe.
The people have spoken, and consumers are serious about supporting sustainable business practices in nearly every industry.
While not all sustainability metrics are customer-facing, eco-friendly packaging is a sure way to show your brand’s dedication to environmental causes and win the trust of today’s conscious consumer base.
Recyclable materials are a good starting point, but a truly sustainable packaging solution will also address issues like carbon emissions, shipping demands, global and community impact, and waste reduction.
You can gain a crucial advantage if your brand successfully outlines and communicates a sustainability plan to consumers while following through with eco-friendly packaging.
What Are Customer Expectations and Trends?
Product packaging design elements play a role in consumer perception and experience. However, the next generation of customers will have even higher expectations for brands as competition ramps up.
Here are a few key trends in product packaging and what your brand can do to stay ahead of the curve with your designs and materials.
Instant Brand Impact
Brand familiarity is priceless in a world where attention is as good as gold.
If your company is all-in on social media marketing and other brand awareness campaigns, you can’t overlook the power of packaging to drive the point home.
Customers respond to brands based on familiar colors, images, logos, fonts, and catchphrases, which can be conveyed through retail or online packaging.
Even in the digital realm, you can showcase your products in packaged form and forge connections to the real world with your audience that they won’t forget.
Convenience and Simplicity
Ask any consumer or reflect on your experience; inadequate packaging can ruin an excellent product and discourage another purchase or recommendation.
The more smooth and more streamlined the experience you can create for the customer through packaging, the greater your reward will be.
This accounts for everything from the texture and touch of the packaging materials to the ability to open, access, and reseal the package without excessive effort or frustration.
Counterintuitively, the best product packaging solutions are the ones that consumers never think about because they’re so easy to use.
For brands in the apparel or cosmetics industries, generous return policies and trial periods may be the norm. In these cases, packaging formats should be easy to keep organized, restructure for returns, and allow a streamlined back-and-forth shipping process for all parties.
Don’t count out the impact of a great unboxing experience for the modern consumer. Just look to leaders like Apple or luxury designer houses to see how unboxing can add a sense of luxury and exclusivity to an otherwise mundane process.
The best unboxing experiences are like mini puzzles or quests, which can be savored for several minutes before the satisfying conclusion.
Pay attention to how consumers interact with multiple layers of packaging materials and give them the experience worth waiting for. Not all unboxings need to be complex or drawn out, but they should always be intuitive and provide an easy on-ramp to enjoy the product thoroughly.
What Is the Perfect Packaging Design Process?
From a brand standpoint, product packaging design might seem unfamiliar or intimidating, especially after months or years of R&D and business planning.
That’s why most brands do not improvise the packaging design process and instead turn to trusted partners to help them create a winning package solution from square one.
The packaging design process starts with analyzing the product, accounting for size, shape, perishable properties, average order quantity, and other variables.
From there, brands can work with packaging suppliers to determine the ideal materials, formats, and production parameters for a given order.
To dial in the visual and informational elements of the packaging, brands will work with packaging experts to translate colors, logos, and messaging into a clean, streamlined form. This may require dieline templates, software like Photoshop, and other design tools to take your ideas from digital to physical.
The process may take weeks or months to complete, but by the end, the packaging solution will be visually appealing, adequately formatted, safe, secure, and ready to sell at scale.
Dymapak Is Your Packaging Design Pro
With so much to consider when designing packaging for new products, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Guides like this can help you set expectations and follow a proven roadmap to designing a solid product with the packaging to match.
Meanwhile, packaging suppliers like Dymapak can help your brand rise to the challenge of high consumer standards. We work with brands across the board to package products with quality materials, functional formats, and attractive designs.
Reach out to Dymapak today, and let’s fast-track your products for success with packaging that goes above and beyond.