Insights | June 20, 2019

5 Rules of Great Packaging Design

I love it when I’m walking the aisle at the grocery store and product packaging catches my attention. The product name and logo, the design and messaging – the total visual aesthetic – compels me to pick it up, even if I don’t need what’s inside. That’s the power of packaging.

By Daniel Ryu

You have followed your passion and finally created the perfect product for the world. You’ve done your research and know there’s a need in the market for what you’re offering. You also know how it’s going to be packaged, but don’t have the slightest clue to what your packaging is going to look like. Where do you begin?

It’s imperative for your packaging to stand out on shelf. What your product looks like, what it’s communicating and how it’s making consumers feel will determine how it’s perceived, and ultimately how it’s going to sell. By combining the right colours, words, images and shapes, you can win over the consumer. That’s why your product’s packaging can often be just as important as the product.

Here are my top 5 rules of thumb when tackling a packaging project.

  1. Simplicity Wins – Keep things simple and intuitive. If your messaging or design is cluttered, consumers won’t actually understand what they’re looking at or buying. What’s the one thing you want your consumers to take away? Give it prominence, decrease the weight of other elements and give consumers a sensory break. Wield negative space to your advantage. Icons are your friends.

Studio Parallel designed this elegantly minimalistic packaging for the BYBI natural skincare line.

2. You’re Not The Consumer – “Oh yeah, it should totally be red. Trust me, I’m the target audience. And I like red.” It’s easy to think we know what’s best for us. We’re all guilty of it. This is especially dangerous when making creative decisions for your packaging because for one, you might not even be the target audience, and two, it’s subjective. Do your research. Get real consumer data. Then make your decisions based on your consumer’s needs.

3. Stop Being Sheep – Stop doing what everyone else is doing. Don’t use the same colours or language. If your product looks exactly the same as your competition on shelf, you’ve lost. If you truly have a better product, your packaging should look it and play the part. Don’t be safe and follow the herd. Start taking risks, and take a different turn – better yet, run in another direction.

Designer Jo Cutri puts a fresh spin on sugar-free ice cream for Denada.

4. Size Matters – I often see product packaging trying to cram what seems to be a novel’s worth of information on the front of their packaging. This forces designers to decrease the size of everything so that it can all fit. Again, what’s the one thing that you’re trying to say? Make a statement. Exaggerate and play with size differentiation. The answer isn’t always making the logo bigger. I know it’s tempting.

Reynolds and Reyner in the Ukraine designed this super bold, attention-grabbing packaging for Exting, an energy drink that is inspired by fire and fire extinguishers.

5. Don’t Sell, Tell – Brands are all saying something. Everything from their websites to business cards, their packaging and even down to their logos. More often than not, brands lose sight of who they are and start to sell things rather than tell a story. It’s essential to stay authentic to who you are and to tell stories that consumers can relate to and believe in.

Designer Taylor Newman creates pastel cityscapes from around the world to match the staple ingredient in each flavor for Vivo, a handcrafted chocolate brand.

Do you have a product you’re needing to get on shelf? Do you need to redesign your current packaging because it’s outdated or need to reposition yourself in the market? Get in touch with our packaging experts, we’d love to help.

See what we’ve done for our packaging clients