product packaging design

How to Perfect Your Product Packaging Design: A Guide

Strategizing, creating, and selecting the final packaging design for your product is not a simple task. From conceptualization to execution and revision, the process takes time and careful consideration.

Retail packaging and labeling play a vital role in your brand identity, competitive differentiation, and overall product marketing strategy so deep knowledge of best practices in product packaging design will contribute to your success. To help take your product packaging to the next level, use this infographic as a guide. 

How to Perfect Your Product Packaging Design


Before Designing Your Packaging…

Product packaging can be complex, especially when it comes to design. There are many things to consider to ensure that the design captures everything your brand stands for, including style, personality, and values or beliefs.

Below are significant factors to think about before beginning the design process:

1. Brand guidelines: logo, colors, and fonts 

Good marketing involves using brand-specific design elements to help customers recognize that a particular product belongs to your business. From corporate logos to colors, fonts, images, and patterns, you need to supply these elements to your packaging designer, who will include them on the package mockups as the design project progresses.

If you’re establishing a company or brand for the first time, you need to create a brand book that will serve as the basis for your company’s design work moving forward.

 2. Content

The text and visuals on your packaging can help educate customers about your product, so it should be as specific as possible. For example, written copy describes the name of the product, what it is, how to use it, and so on. Images, codes, and other unique markings are also part of packaging content. You may also want to consider including a QR code to direct your customers to more detailed online content.

Preparing these content assets is vital in ensuring a smooth design process, as the designer will need to think about where to place them on the packaging. However, it is important to note that there may be some restrictions.

Depending on the product category and market, you may need to include health and safety warnings, environmental or nutritional information, usage instructions, language requirements, sell-by dates, or metric/imperial measurements. Are there barcode size/location requirements? The bottom line is you should know the legal and regulatory requirements for certain content to be placed on the package.

3. Budget

Your packaging can’t be more expensive than your product. Break down the costs before designing your product’s wrapping or label. Product packaging costs fall into two categories:

●       One-time costs. These are upfront, non-recurring costs, so you only have to pay for them once. Design fees, cutting dies and print plate setup for litho/flexo printing jobs are some examples.

●       Unit costs. These costs represent the cost of your materials and labor to pack each piece of your product. For example, the squeeze bottle containing your dish soap product and the label that goes with it, plus the packing cost, will combine to determine the packaging cost per unit.

Factors such as materials, printing methods, sustainability, size, and design all have cost/benefit trade-offs.

4. Sustainability

Sustainable packaging designs refer to the use of materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, compostable, or reusable. It may also include materials that have been previously recycled or sustainably manufactured or harvested. This sustainability attribute is important because it reduces the ecological footprint of a product’s life cycle across all its stages of production, use, and disposal.

With consumers’ increasing awareness of sustainability best practices, more are inclined to be loyal to brands using green packaging. Your business must get the right message across to your target market: not only is your product of high quality and of good value, but you’re also doing your part in social responsibility through sustainable packaging design.

Packaging waste or poor materials selection may not only harm the environment—it may harm your brand identity as well. Pro tip: pick your sustainable materials as one of the last steps in your design process. This will help make sure you meet all the critical requirements of your packaging and continue using sustainable materials for the long run.

5. Protection during transport, display, and storage

At its foundational level, packaging works to protect the product it contains. Its primary role is to keep the product safe during transport from the manufacturing facility to the retailer, whether on the shelf or in storage.

Depending on the product inside, a package generally should be durable enough to protect against drops, electrostatic charge, shock, temperature shifts, or impact. It should seal the product enough to keep away dust, moisture, and other contaminants that may potentially damage the contents inside.

6. User experience

If your packaging is effective, it contributes to an overall positive brand experience for the consumer and is differentiated from your competitors. While bold colors and a clever design structure can be eye-catching, creating a multi-sensory experience can attract more customers and build brand loyalty more effectively. Start with the visuals and work out the tactile features. Remember to design for an engaging user experience–both inside and out.


The Three Layers of Packaging

Depending on product type or nature, you may need one or more layers. Each of these layers has a particular function to complement one another, whether it’s design aesthetics or functionality.

1. Primary packaging refers to the material that directly touches or holds the product.

Also known as retail packaging or consumer packaging when it’s the first thing that customers see, its functions include providing information about a product and sealing it properly. Giving your primary packaging an appealing look can make it more appealing to customers.

A folding carton for a bike helmet is an example of primary packaging, and so is a bottle of shampoo. Sometimes primary packaging can’t be seen on store shelves and so it isn’t always branded. Consider breakfast cereal: The primary package is the interior liner bag that contains the cereal inside the carton.

2. Secondary packaging goes around the primary packaging or holds individual product units together, such as a paperboard box with a dozen cans of soda. In this case, besides protecting the product and primary packaging, the paperboard packaging can be part of branding, too, as it displays your brand logo and associated messaging.

Bubble wrap, shrink sleeves, and fillers also belong to this category since they keep goods in excellent condition for customer use later on. In the cereal example, the carton that encases the liner bag is the secondary package. In a 12-pack of beverages, the carton is the secondary package, while each can/bottle is the primary package.

3. Tertiary packaging is the outer or topmost layer of packaging. It ensures the product ships safely from the warehouse to stores, offices, and other distribution points. Tertiary packaging materials include large corrugated boxes, pallets, crates, and other protective containers. In club membership stores, products sold in bulk may often require tertiary packaging for transportation or even display. For example, cereal boxes may be purchased by the dozen, which would potentially involve a corrugated tray or case to contain and transport all the individual cereal boxes.


Tips for Designing Your Product Packaging

  • Make your product and packaging consistent in how they look or feel to customers. If a particular line comprises several products, the packaging should have similar elements to show they belong to one family.
  • Aim for both form and function. A creative packaging design can be unique and have a specific use at the same time.
  • Make it easy for customers to open your packaging. They’ll remember that experience the next time they shop.
  • Ensure that your packaging is suitable for the proper handling of your product. Keep revising your prototypes until you find the perfect structural design.
  • Develop packaging for various types of consumers: small servings versus big servings, individual packs versus group packs, and so on.
  • Study what your competitors are doing. Learn from them and consider how to make the brand/product/package experience better for your consumers.


Promote Your Product’s Value Through Great Product 

You can make a strong statement about your products by following a guide for designing your packaging. Keep things simple yet stylish, and practical yet innovative. These rules can help you create the most effective packaging design idea for your brand.

Meyers can help you sell your products through professional structural design and printing solutions suitable for your branding style and business goals. Let us discuss your printing needs.