Great packaging can make the difference between a zero or a hero. For example, nearly two-thirds of wine drinkers select their wine based on the bottle. Another boozy stat comes from the beer segment where it is rumored size and flare of the tap handle can have a positive effect on sales. Namely a large, loud handle will sell more beer.
There are countless examples about presentation and why it is important but let’s get to the reason why we are here today: tips and tricks to designing packaging that sells. These are the steps I go through each time I sit down to create a new packaging design for one of my brands and I am sharing them with you.
Step 1: Designing Packaging with the Like-kind Method
This is two-step process where you 1) aim to be different than your peers, and 2) aim to emulate an eye-catcher from another space.
Task 1: grab some examples of your competitors. Set them aside. We will come back to them later.
Task 2: this is the most important step and the most fun (because you get to buy some goodies for yourself). This is the number one tip I have for designing packing that sells. Start by looking outside of your direct competitive space and find some examples of great packaging in other industries. A great place to do this is a high-end grocery store like Whole Foods. There you will find literally thousands of premium brands that have invested heavily in packaging and design. This is where you break out your wallet and pick up a few eye-catchers to take back to the office for your inspiration group.
Task 3: compare your direct competitors to your emulators group and develop a plan for how your packaging fits between the two groups. Your package needs to emulate the eye-catchers and stand out from your direct competition. By seeing both groups, side-by-side it should be easy to see how your packaging design should come together.
Step 2: Think Consistency with you Packaging Designs
Consistent packaging is not only key to building a brand, but it also saves you time and resources by increasing efficiency. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as they say, right? So once you nail down the perfect design from Step 1, then build a template so that you can scale as your product lines grow or as you add variations.
Step 3: Be Up-to-Date with Your Packaging Designs
If you work in fashion or design, then you already know this, but did you know that every year numerous trend experts predict the next year’s colors and trends? For example, Pantone Color Institute, every year, picks colors they predict will be fashionable in the coming year. 2019’s color of the year is called Night Watch and is a dark green color they think will be popular in 2019.
Okay, so where is this conversation going?
The idea is to be relevant and up-to-date and there are plenty of resources out there to help guide you. Also keep in mind that you want a look and feel that can last about 5 years before you have to overhaul. So research and examine the current trends and settle on something that is not too trendy but fresh enough to last for at least five years without going stale.
Step 4: Picking the Right Font and Color for your Packaging Designs
In my work as a product designer for Natural Citizen, I have spoken with numerous merchandisers at brick-and-mortar retail whom all tell me the same thing: you want to stand out on the shelf, but you can’t take up too much space. Sounds like a paradox to me!
Remember our beer example? Think about how beer taps are close together on the rail. Tap handle designers have to think tall, skinny, and loud. Coincidentally, this is very similar to how most shelves in most retail environments are situated.
My secret is to pick a font and color scheme that stand out and are well balanced. The typeface should be readable. The colors should pop and should follow the principles of color picking, using the the color wheel to achieve balance. You can get a whole college degree on what I just said, but if you followed step 1 properly, then someone with that degree has already done this work for!
- Get examples of what to emulate and what to avoid
- Craft a consistency across your designs
- Stay on top of trends and update when necessary, and
- Pick fonts and colors that follow best practice design principles.
If you can do these four steps, then you are well on your way to designing packaging that sells. And, if you have any great ideas of your own, please share in the comments!