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9 Tips to Improve Your Product Packaging Design

Print design
August 12, 2022
10 minutes

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Welcome to the wondrous world of product packaging design. Once regarded as just a vessel, the container has taken on a new meaning. Want in on the game? This is how to wow your customers with meticulously, on-brand designed product packaging.

How important is product packaging?

Imagine presenting yourself to a crowd of people and only having a snap second to do so. How would you ensure they’d like what they see? Chances are that dressing up nicely instantly comes to mind. And that’s no surprise!

So, just how important is product packaging? Get this: 72% of Americans agree that a product’s package design often influences their purchase decision. Just like you would judge someone on how they dress, we often judge products on their exterior.

Successful product packaging is a true game changer that can spike your product sales. Let’s briefly go over the ins and outs before diving into tips to create masterpieces for your product’s exterior. Of course, all accompanied by stunning examples to inspire you!

Product packaging design: the low-down

There are a few reasons why a long, hard look at your product packaging is important:

  • Protection – As the exterior of your product, it functions as a protective barrier from external influences.
  • Sales – As IPSOS statistics shows, a product package design influences the purchase decision of 72% of the respondents.
  • Branding – By using on-brand design for your custom packaging, you can build trust and claim recognition among your audience.
  • Inform – Packaging opens up all of this space you can utilize to explain your values, the contents of your product, or tell your brand’s story.

Nine tips for creating mind-blowing product packaging

When you think about how to design packaging for your product, there are many components to consider. As a design company ourselves, we are big fans of clever product packaging design. That’s why we’ve covered the design process a bit more in-depth in our guide to product packaging design.

Additionally, we’ve gone over tips and tricks on how to design packaging for your product here. Since we can’t get enough of custom product packages and can’t emphasize enough how important it is, we’re back with a fresh batch of new tips to add to your knowledge base.

1. Honesty is the best policy

Above all, your product packaging should be honest. People are spending money on your product, so misleading them will cause guaranteed frustration.

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SISA’s honest packaging, via Behance

Sure, you can think outside of the box and get creative with your package design. But make it make sense. Don’t throw people off with the packaging, and make sure you’re honest about the contents. There are a few ways to make your packaging an honest one:

  • Make the ingredients of your product obvious.
  • Only include values that your company actually lives by.
  • Make your contact and company information easily accessible.
  • Be straightforward about the product instead of using cryptic lingo.

2. Test, test, test

The product packaging process can be a lengthy one. So once you finally have your packaging done and dusted, it’s understandable that you want to get it onto the shelves as quickly as possible. But wouldn’t you want to know how your potential customers will react first?

There’s only one way to gain this powerful knowledge: testing your product packaging design. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set up a target group and give them a glance at your packaging. Bonus points if it’s the real deal, so no digital images but the actual final printed form.
  • Show your target group multiple versions. They don’t necessarily have to be vastly different, as long as they’re somewhat different.
  • Gather both quantitative and qualitative data and study it carefully. Make sure you understand why people have chosen one option over another and apply the feedback to your product packaging.

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We can only imagine the amount of testing that went ahead of this inventive packaging design for Steens’ Manuka Honey!

3. Functionality over aesthetics

Something can look really cool, but if it doesn’t work properly, it defeats its purpose. This is crucial when designing packaging since it’s often a potential customer’s first impression of your product.

Here are some things to consider to ensure your packaging is functional:

  • Is it easy to open? If not, people will immediately feel frustrated and might turn to a competitor for their next purchase.
  • Does it protect the product well? For example, firm packaging is a must if your product is fragile.
  • Will it generate a lot of waste? Be mindful when designing packaging to prevent a lot of waste.
  • How are customers transporting the product? If they most likely buy it in a supermarket, the packaging will be different than when it’s purchased primarily online, for example.

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Refillable deodorant by Blond Ltd, via Behance

4. Content is king

The content that goes on the package design is one of the first things to consider. From there on, you can start the design process to ensure everything is in place. Bear in mind you might have to include specific information legally, depending on the product you sell.

Clever usage of custom packaging can free up lots of space. Space you can use to tell your story, inform your audience, and reel in customers.

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A hidden message, via Reddit

It’s the design that will cause someone to grab your product, but after that initial spark of interest, it’s all up to the content of the packaging. Here are a few golden rules to follow when it comes to product packaging content:

  • Include the legal requirements.
  • Add your company’s contact details.
  • Be honest about what’s inside.
  • Banish spelling errors.
  • Use an on-brand tone of voice.

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The story of CF 18 Chocolate, via Behance

5. Switch things up with seasonal packaging

If your packaging has been around a while and gained trust and recognition from clients, you may not want to opt for a complete rebrand. Instead, think of a seasonal change in your packaging.

Seasonal packaging can help you get on the radar of a new audience and spark new interest from previous buyers. Additionally, it’s a fun way to keep your core design elements and add a twist to them.

How To Prepare Your Business for the Holiday Season

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Here are some ideas to get into the spirit of seasonal packaging:

  • Embrace festive traditions – Green, red and golden will always be Christmas favorites. And orange, purple and black color combos get everyone excited for Halloween.
  • Keep it on brand – While it should be seasonal, your packaging should still help you build a consistent brand image. If you have a very minimalistic brand identity, don’t go overboard with flashy summer colors and decorations.
  • Surprise customers – Think of a solid promotional campaign surrounding the seasonal rebrand of your packaging. Give your audience a sneak peek on your social accounts, or give your loyal subscribers early access, for example.
  • Add value – Think outside of the box to make your new packaging design surprising. A special finish like foil embossing can do the trick or add value by designing reusable packaging.
  • Go for limited editions – Seasonal, limited editions can create excitement among loyal customers. Case in point: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte has become an international phenomenon with a cult following.

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A summery drink, via Behance

Christmas is probably the first thing that pops into your head, but there are countless other reasons why seasonal packaging may work. Offer a yoga product? Create a special edition packaging for the International Day of Yoga. Selling a drink? Zhuzh up your packaging when summer is right around the corner. Get creative!

6. Add value

Adding value to your product packaging can make a tremendous impact. You’re promoting the reuse, reduce, recycle culture, which is great on its own. But additionally, you have an opportunity to leave a branded item in your customer’s household for years to come.

The trick is to invest in proper material here. Sure, single-use is cheap. But it’s not environmentally friendly. Nor is it sustainable, so the chances of people holding on to it are minimized.

PUMA’s collaboration with FuseProject resulted into a nifty bag that eliminates the majority of packaging waste, and provides customers with a usable object.

Some ideas to put your product in that could serve an additional purpose:

  • A sturdy canvas tote bag.
  • Thick-carton with an airtight lid.
  • A refillable vessel.
  • Cardboard that folds into something usable.
  • A nice glass jar.

7. Pick the right fonts

Just like a solid color palette, fonts can convey a certain mood. Choosing one that fits your product seamlessly will help customers perceive your product in the intended way.

Find the best fonts that will make your logo stand out

Download our guide on logo typography

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on fonts and their characteristics:

  • Sans serif fonts – Sans seris fonts are casual, lightweight, friendly, and approachable. Great if your target audience is a younger crowd.
  • Serif fonts – Classic and refined, a proper serif font can leave a lasting impression of elegance.
  • Slab serif fonts – With a solid, robust appearance, slab serif fonts are great for showing off confidence with a hint of quirkiness.
  • Script fonts – With a natural-looking cursive style, script fonts ooze luxury and femininity.
  • Decorative fonts – Usually tailored to fit a specific company, these fonts are used for headlines and logos. They are rarely used for long-form text but are great for eye-catching words or slogans.

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Candy font, via Behance

Custom packaging design is all about the tiniest details, with the font you pick as one of the essential elements. Need some inspiration? Check out these 15 fonts that pair exceptionally well with product packaging design.

8. Spy on your competitors

Anytime a company establishes its brand identity, part of it is researching the competition. When you embark on your product packaging venture, it shouldn’t be any different.

You might want to visit the store where you aspire your product to be sold to check out the packaging designs from your direct competitors. Additionally, you can search online to find product packaging designs from similar brands, products, and markets. Here are some websites to find great design inspiration:

  • Behance – One of the biggest platforms where creators can showcase their work. Used by many designers, your next inspiration deep dive is only a search away.
  • Dribbble – A collection of portfolios posted and managed by creatives and agencies from all over the world.
  • Dieline – This bespoke platform focuses solely on packaging design, showcasing the best international packaging design to a broad audience.
  • Packaging of the World – Another creative hub focused on packaging design only, Packaging of the World inspires anyone interested in the craft.
  • BP&O – Founded by designer and writer Richard Baird, BP&O offers a distinctive view on branding and packaging design.
  • The Inspiration Grid – An online magazine that celebrates creativity worldwide by posting an aesthetically pleasing grid filled with top-notch design.

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Burger King & McDonald’s packaging give off similar vibes, via AdAge

9. Print professionally

If there is one way to elevate the packaging of a product, it’s by having it professionally printed. It will be a shame if your stunning design doesn’t come through just because it was printed via a cheaper mass production.

Here’s how to get your design printed professionally:

  • Learn the ropesKnow your RGB from your CMYK, and brush up on printing terms. Knowing a thing or two about professional printing pays off to ensure you give correct and clear instructions to the printing company.
  • Find a reputable company – Preferably one that delivers custom orders and gives tailored solutions and advice to ensure they focus on your project and give personal attention throughout the process.
  • Check your sizing – If it’s custom sizing, make sure the printing company you found is capable of printing.
  • Stay involved – Don’t just hand over your files; stay involved throughout the process. This way, you can quickly spot any errors before a whole batch of wrong packaging is printed.

See some of ManyPixels’ best design works

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More product packaging

Hopefully, these tips have given you new ideas for elevating your product packaging to the next level.

Are you still craving more packaging design? We’ve got you covered with endless design inspiration, whether you’re looking for creative product packaging ideas, beauty packaging design, or food packaging design.

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Guest Writer: Simone Timmers

August 12, 2022

Simone is a writer, dividing her time between native Netherlands and 'home away from home' Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, she's either on her yoga mat or exploring any off the beaten track she can find.