Strategies for successful and creative packaging design

We’re all familiar with the saying it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but when it comes to your product and packaging design, we couldn’t disagree more. 

Customers are busy people, they don't have the time or energy to make a pros and cons list for every product they purchase, so they rely on shortcuts to help make their purchasing decisions. That shortcut being packagingSo, getting the right packaging design is critical. 

Imagine being able to tell your consumer why your product and brand are the better choice, at first glance. Well stop imaging and start doing. If that doesn’t sell it for you let’s consider the effect poor product packaging can have. Imagine receiving a Tiffany & Co ring, from the love of your dreams, in a Kinder Surprise egg (you know, the little plastic ones). You probably wouldn’t be too impressed, and perhaps even a little confused. 

Don’t fret, we’ve got the strategies for successful product packaging design right here for you, all wrapped up in a neat, not-so-boxy package, and finished with a bow. 

 

The strategies for creative product packaging design

Step 1. Define the goal

First of all, we start with the goal of the packaging design. What is its purpose? What will it be holding? Who will be opening it and how do we want them to feel? The critical first step in professional product packaging design.

Once you determine what you are trying to achieve with the product packaging it can help ensure the packaging design not only looks fantastic, but is functional too.  

Step 2. The big picture

Future proof. 

Sure, living in the present has its benefits, but when it comes to product packaging we need to think ahead of the here and now. What you need to consider is not only how this piece fits into  your existing range, but also your future. 

Stand out.

Similarly, you should consider how your packaging will stand out against its competitors. Does anyone really want to stick to the status quo? Aside from the students in High School Musical, no, no they don’t. If your competitors are using dark colours, can you use light? If every other product is rectangular, can you use a cylinder? Don’t let your product blend in with the others, help it stand out and make a statement — first impressions matter. 

Journey ready. 

Before packaging even finds itself snug in your customers hands, it has a big journey of its own — and this also needs to be taken into consideration. What trials must your packaging go through before it gets to your customer? Is it at risk of scuffing or breakage? Product packaging must sufficiently protect the product and also itself. There is nothing worse than receiving a battered box in the mail, strewn with the contents of your expensive new cleanser (or shaving cream). Your customer doesn’t want that, you don’t want that, and we definitely don’t want that for either of you (or the cleanser). 

You may think just wrap it up in bubble wrap then. It’s not that easy friend. These packaging decisions — of materials, design and their impact (socially, financially and environmentally) — should all be carefully considered before the packaging is manufactured. Take it from us, we’re specialists in product packaging design in Brisbane. 

Packing process. 

It’s not just the packaging itself that must be considered, but the process of packing your product into it too. Will it be assembled by hand or will it be automated? Can your packaging be shipped flat (taking up less space), or must it be shipped pre-assembled? 

 

What may seem like minuscule, annoying details now, can significantly impact the cost to your business, especially when you consider scaling up. Whether this is a negative or positive impact depends on how much time and effort you invest in the early stages of the design process. 

Are you beginning to understand why you need to put a greater emphasis on your product packaging design? Good. Let’s continue then shall we. 

Step 3. Strategy (within a strategy) for your creative packaging design

Here at By Ninja (your local custom packaging design experts), we develop a packaging strategy and visual moodboard — a visual collection of ideas and techniques we use to convey our general idea — to solve the particular packaging problem at hand, taking into account everything we’ve outlined above. 

Although it can be overwhelming to begin with, making sure you have a set strategy with strong intentions from the get go can really help you down the track. You’ll be thanking your past self later, trust us. 

Step 4. Concept

The concept is where everything is finally brought together — we look at how we can symbolise and embody the purpose and personality of your brand (and product), holistically, and tell your brand story. Product packaging is an extension of a brand and so it must encapsulate your brand image and communicate this directly to your ideal consumers. 

We know that sounds like a daunting task, but you just need friends like ours — we partner with local packaging production experts and assembly teams to finesse details like construction, stocks and treatments to get the best possible outcome — you know, the sacred balance of cost versus impact and functionality, aka risk versus reward, aka ROI. 

Custom packaging is one of the most important marketing tools for any product, and we already know how important marketing is

As we conceptualise, we develop digital mock-ups to compare how our product packaging designs stack up against the competitors’. That way none of us have to nervously wait until the end of the process to see how impressive your packaging truly is.

Step 5. We test the product packaging design

The final clincher, we develop prototypes and we test them. You wouldn’t dump a full boat of people out in the ocean without testing it floats first (or that the people onboard can swim). We watch unfamiliar people, the right people (your ideal customers), pick them up (the prototypes, not the people), open them, take stuff from them, and close them. We drop them, intentionally try to scuff them and mark them, and put them in scenarios similar to those they will experience — building character while making sure they can handle whatever comes their way.

Bonus tips (aka the bow)

Bonus tips; our equivalent to the surprise lollies or discount code you find in the bottom of your package. 

  • Know your audience. You need to know who you’re targeting so you can design for them. 

  • Partner with a custom product packaging expert. Someone who manufactures custom product packaging in-house, and has the capability to produce full-size prototypes on the right stocks can make a world of difference when you’re ironing out the kinks in your design — helping you get it done quicker, and dare we say, better

  • Consider your unboxing experience. If you're shipping your packaged goods directly to your customer, you need to ensure the unboxing experience is as enjoyable as possible. Make sure it elevates your packaging and in turn your entire brand. Not to toot our own horn (toot toot), but we recently developed a multi-award winning unboxing experience for LUXE Botanics, which we believe deserves it’s very own YouTube unboxing demonstration.  

  • Be true to your brand. Consider the whole image and journey of your product packaging. For example, if you're a green business, using coatings like traditional celloglazes or plastic wrap protection (like perfume boxes) is a direct contradiction to your ethos. Using recycled materials would make a lot more sense. 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed un-packing our tips to create successful packaging. Remember, just because we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, doesn’t mean we won’t.