Every designer has a “first love.” For me, packaging design will always have a special place in my heart. My admiration for product packaging began in design school and still interests me today. What I love most is not only how much it challenges us as designers, but how great, eye-catching, product packaging can significantly impact consumer behavior. For a number of our clients, their product is their labor of love. Part of my job is to design a product’s packaging in a way that is attractive, on brand, and sincerely in line with its contents, in order to connect with the consumer. In today’s world of “swipe left or right if you like my face,” a product’s visual first impression heavily influences a consumer’s instinctual decision to buy. But what does a designer have to do to ensure they are creating packaging that can influence this decision correctly?
Research Is Key
Great research is the best strategic start to the design process. Understanding your target demographic lays a strong foundation for a successful design that has terrific shelf-appeal and ROI. Shelf-appeal is key, and making your product stand out amongst its competitors is our goal. If I understand your product’s market, then I can favorably appeal to your ideal demographic (who will in turn use word of mouth and social media to bring others along).
For example, we have two clients who were both in need of packaging design for their glass-based products: Celestial Fire Glass, who produces mostly B2B products for commercial use, and Gemnique, a B2C company with an assortment of colored glass accents for your home or crafts. Based on our research, the strategy for the two package designs had to be very different. Our initial research showed that the people who traditionally buy and install fire glass, such as Celestial’s, are mostly male contractors. On the other hand, brands such as Gemnique resonate greater with crafters and event planners, both women-led industries.
The Celestial Fire Glass jars and labels took a geometric direction, with bold colors and organic patterns. Functionality was also a consideration, and our clients decided to use packaging with handles for ease of use. For Geminique, which is simpler in its application, we focused on repurposing brand elements and distinguishing one item from another, to make it easier for consumers browsing the aisles. Keeping packaging elements clear for the consumer will help them feel more secure while shopping, and will persuade them to trust your product with their hard-earned money over other brands.
Create Visuals that Match the Brand’s Voice
There are so many ways to box, design, and package a product, which means we have to be strategic and intentional with how we choose to present your product. A product’s packaging directly reflects its brand, so your packaging should express the same tone, quality, and value as your company.
Manicdotes! is a fun and successful example of this philosophy. Dubbed “The Game of Wild Stories,” this card game is filled with lighthearted, fun, creative, and outrageous words or phrases. Our goal was to mirror those same sentiments in its packaging design. From the bold branding, to the whimsical font choice, the Marstudio team wanted the external packaging to be an embodiment of the game itself! Giving your consumers a clear and direct impression of the product before purchase is what successful packaging accomplishes. When we succeed at the challenge of capturing your product’s voice in the physical packaging design, we in turn create consistency between your brand and your product, aiding in essential brand recognition and brand loyalty.
Add a Pinch of Innovation and Dedication
If you’re a marketer or designer reading this, then my advice is to be creative with materials. Clients and creatives who are willing to be innovative with product packaging will stay ahead of their competitors. Try innovating with unique, custom box forms, or create your design using particular substrates that you know will resonate with your customers, like recyclable papers or materials.
In the B2C world, people are going to judge a book – or in our case, a product – by its cover, every time. Companies who understand this truth are also the ones who understand the importance of dedicating resources to their packaging design. Elevating your packaging design with an experienced marketing firm and design studio like Marstudio can result in a great return on investment. With the right packaging design, Marstudio can help position your product as one that will attract consumers and sales, build brand recognition, and honestly reflect your product’s value, both inside and out.