The two fundamental principles of packaging design are protection and promotion. These components must work together for a piece of packaging to be deemed successful. For example, if a perfume box looks beautiful, but the glass bottle inside is damaged, it has failed in its basic role of safeguarding the product. Conversely, if a product is held within a poorly designed container, it is unnecessarily overpackaged or uses low-quality materials, it is unlikely a customer will pick it up in the first place. The second point is particularly important for products that will be stocked in a shop — shelves are an incredibly competitive environment with potentially thousands of similar products competing for attention.
Packaging and protection: How to make sure a product is kept safe
Appropriately designed product packaging will always give a reasonable amount of protection. A packaging designer considers the full lifecycle of a product, taking into account its journey from manufacturing to warehouse or shop, the process of being displayed or picked, distribution across a range of delivery networks and finally how it will be stored and reused by the end-user. A designer will test and iterate on different concepts to make sure it performs to an acceptable degree before it is signed off. Many clients opt for formal testing of mass-produced packaging to make sure it withstands real-life handling.
There are a number of additional considerations that come into play when designing the packaging for premium products such as clothing, jewellery or electronics. These include:
- The use of protective coatings to help prevent scratches or scuffs on the product surface
- Ensuring any hinges and fastenings are covered in order to prevent them from becoming damaged
- The use of protective materials to help keep the product clean such as cotton, silk or velvet
Packaging and promotion: How packaging can catch attention and drive sales
When developing any pack design it is important to consider who the audience is, where it will be sold, what the key USPs of the product are, what brand image and materials are appropriate and many more. For in-store FMCG products it may be deemed essential for a design to be eye-catching. However, high-end products such as jewellery, fragrances or make-up can often benefit from the restrained use of design, instead focussing on confident use of high-quality materials.
When designing a product pack, we recommend weighing up the following elements:
- Product: What are the product USPs, what makes it unique from the competition? Can these be used as a packaging concept?
- Budget: What is achievable for the budget and quantities?
- Materials: What materials are appropriate? Should high-quality boards be used?
- Sustainability: How can we reduce the amount of material used? Are all materials easily recyclable? Are there greener processes that can be used? Can the packaging be flat-packed to reduce transit costs and efficiency?
- Brand image: What image are we looking to achieve? Does this compare with the competition?
Choosing appropriate packaging materials
We recommend that all packaging materials considered for a project are sustainably produced. We believe it is the job of a creative agency to specify and explain the most appropriate materials for a project. For example, we simply refuse to use plastics that are not easily or widely recycled in the UK — and there are many!
It is important to consider what level of accreditation a material has. For example, a paper may be certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) while textiles may be certified by an organisation like the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
If your business would benefit from bespoke packaging design or a fresh approach to print design and production, please get in touch and we will be happy to advise on the best route forward. We recommend that a strong brand identity is defined to ensure all printed materials are unique, consistent and effective.