Things To Consider When Designing Packaging

Things To Consider When Designing Packaging

So you have a product and are ready to begin thinking about packaging. But have you considered everything that will need to go into the design? It’s more complicated then you may think. Packaging not only sets the pace, but it steers the ship of your brand. It is one of the most visible and accessible parts of your brand's identity. There are a few things you should be aware of and plan for when thinking about where your design will end up.

The Basics

One of the first things you will have to think about will be what kind of packaging your product will need. Keep in mind that whatever you choose will affect your overall cost. Packaging comes in all shapes and sizes, and many different materials can be used. You also need to consider where/how you will source it or have it manufactured. You may fall in love with a particular packaging style, but sourcing it may be cost prohibitive.

You will also need to know whether your product will be hand-packed. Maybe you will need to have a service mass package it. Think about where your product will be displayed, and what materials may be better to prevent damage from handling. All of these factors can help steer your decisions. Cost will be a factor in whatever decisions you make, so be sure you are including it in your calculations for your overall cost of goods.

Branding Strategies

Once you know what materials and process you will be using for your packaging, you will want to do some major directional planning. By deciding which brand strategy you are going to employ, you will be deciding which elements need to be put into your design. There are a few different ways to approach your branding.

Corporate branding involves marketing your products under the name of the company - like Sony, IBM or American Express. The upside of this approach is it allows you to build brand equity and trust into product recognition. The downside is its harder to treat your products individually. The corporate identity itself pulls attention away from the individual characteristics of your products.

In this approach, packaging will reflect the overall corporate look, feel and messaging. The company name will be a prominent fixture built into the design.

Product branding is where the company promotes a product brand without putting the company name front and center. Procter & Gamble is a good example of this. P&G has many product brands which fall under their name; however the product brand itself is what is recognizable (Luvs, Bounty, Cascade). The upside of this approach is its flexibility and ability to really promote each product's unique qualities.

Incorporated into this design will be only a small mention of the larger company, while the product itself may have its own unique logo and branding.

An Eye to Your Future

Remember that the goal of any company is to grow. Even if you are starting out with only one product, you may someday want to expand by introducing a variety of products or product companions. Consider how you will need to approach your packaging if your line increases to two, three or fifty. The design will need to be flexible enough to accommodate different sizes, shapes and packaging styles.

When your line does expand there are many ways you can approach differentiating them. A good design will take this into consideration right from the start. Whether you are going to make them stand apart by color or image or perhaps a simple flag. It's good to have those indicators lined up and planned for in your initial design. Otherwise, you may have difficulty keeping a consistent look throughout your brand as it expands.

Production and Time

Not only is cost a factor with packaging, but time is as well. Make sure you have enough time budgeted before launch of your product to have your packaging produced. A typical printed box packaging will take about 6 weeks, and a label could take 4-6 weeks. Of course you can usually get these done faster, but you run the risk of incurring rush fees which take away from your bottom line. If you need to import any elements of your packaging from overseas, this too will take time. Making sure you have enough cushion in your launch date can go a long way to making sure headaches are avoided.

Since we are talking in generalities, who knows what your product may be? But, keep in mind that some types of products have labeling requirements set by the government. Things like UPCs, net weights, and distributed by information. If you are exporting your product overseas, there will likely be different requirements for each country you ship to. There may be FTC or FDA requirements. It's a good idea to know how you will need to have your product labeled before you get started on a design. Having to go back and reprint thousands of packages because you forgot to put a small statement on your product could be costly.

There are many things to consider when delving into product packaging, but that is why you should rely on the expertise of someone who is experienced in creating packaging. They will know what to look for and help guide you through the process of creating a well-rounded, engaging, and responsive design.

Feb 11, 2013

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There are 4 comments for this entry. Leave a comment below »

I really like how you say specifically that a label can take 4-6 weeks, and a printed box usually takes around 6 weeks. Companies who need this should really be thinking about their packaging far in advance. Sometimes, though, the best way to figure out how exactly you want to design something is to find a professional who is experienced with design. It'd just be good for a company to find someone who can do all parts of making packaging supplies.

Amanda Drew
Sep 05, 2017

Yes fulfillment can work BUT but but you should NEVER disclose your customer base or supplier info...

Sep 22, 2015

@ deedee

Thank you for your post, you actually raise a good question that I may have to address sometime in a future blog. What you are talking about is a part of what in industry terms is called Fulfillment. Fulfillment serves to pick, pack and deliver a product to your customers. Within fulfillment is the option for your product to use a turnkey solution in which you (customer) would buy the fully realized product from the manufacturer to then sell to the masses. It can be offered by the product manufacturer, the packaging manufacturer, by outside separate entities that specialize in fulfillment or you can do it yourself in-house. To determine which route to go you will have to research who in your chain offers these services and then determine which path will best fit your business model. There is no one size fits all answer to this step in the process.

Feb 03, 2014

How does the whole packaging of the products work? Do I have to package them all on my own or do I have all my packaging stuff sent directly to the manufacturer to package?

I'm very confused on this linkage part.

Feb 02, 2014

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