Packaging must function, inform, respect legal constraints, foster brand synergy, and connect emotionally – sometimes all within a two-inch space.

-Capsule.us

As you begin to create a package design, there are rules and regulations that must be considered. For instance, did you know every label must put required information (such as the product’s name and quantity) in boldface type? The following article will cover the general information needed to create an effective design. Admittedly, this article will begin to sound like a textbook. The following information is fundamental to learn about packaging, however, and therefore must be noted.

There are two main components to every package design:

a) Its ability to protect the product from damage

b) Its ability to attract the consumer

Referring to this combination as “the product mix,” Robert D. Hisrich identified eight basic functions of a package design. According to Hisrich, a package must promote or sell the item, increase the product’s density, protect the product, be adaptable to production-line speeds, help the consumer use the product, provide reusable value to the user, satisfy legal requirements, and keep packaging-related expenses low. These functions are merely a summary, however, of the thought process that goes into the design because within each category lie numerous subcategories with even more considerations. In order to remain consistent with the title of this article, I will only cover the subjects related to sales and marketing. For more information about the legal constraints to consider when designing a package, you can visit http://www.packagingconsultancy.com/design-requirements.html.

The following four qualities should be taken into consideration when designing a package that aims to increase sales. In order for the design to be successful, however, it should embody all four traits.

1. Apparent Size

This means that the package should make the product look as large as possible, without being misleading, in order to help the consumer to believe they are getting the most out of their money. In the examples below, Arm&Hammer uses large and bold text as well as an elongated box to lead consumers to believe they are getting large amounts of baking soda in one unit. In a more obvious example, Dean’s Sundae Cones utilize a photograph that warps the product and makes the cone look larger than it really is. Additionally, the wide shape of the box and large text add to this extensive portrayal.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, it is imperative that your packaging does not mislead the consumer into thinking they are buying something much larger than the product actually is. It is much more expensive to deal with lawsuits or  to lose customers due to trust issues than it is to keep your design realistic, even if the product really isn’t that big.

2. Attention Drawing Power

This trait is used to make a product stand out amongst its competitors and help with product parity. Using this concept, the package will be able to embody a tone or mood in order to communicate the message the brand is trying to send to the consumer. Thus, certain fonts, colors, shapes, photographs or other techniques can be used to attract the consumer’s eye to your brand instead of the others on the shelf. The package for Vilpuri bread uses innovation and ‘oddvertising’ to attract the consumer’s eye to its product. In this specific example, it is likely that a child will be attracted to their bread rather than its competitors because of its fun and unusual design. The Crayola box uses bright colors and chunky fonts to grab its target market’s attention.

It is very important to make sure that the techniques used to make the product grab the consumer’s attention do not appear cheap or unsophisticated. The impression of quality, as described in more detail below, is just as important because if the consumer notices the product, but does not want to buy it, the attention grabbing techniques were useless.

3. Quality Impression

Perfectly stated in the Advameg article, the appearance of quality in packaging design is crucial because “items that are perceived to be of low quality are assumed to be a poor value, regardless of the price.” Consumers want to feel as if they are purchasing the premium choice for each product they want or need, even if they are price conscious shoppers. The two packages below are just a few of the thousands of brands that take this approach in their packaging designs. In the Dove example, the design uses simplicity in the font and composition to convey elegance and indulgence. Although you cannot see it in the picture, the glossy material of the bag also adds to the rich mood of the brand. In the Crest 3D Whitestrips example, the color palette and package material are the most obvious factors to its appearance of quality. The clean and relaxing connotation of the royal blue box, along with the white accents, add to its sophistication. Similiarly to the Dove bag, the Crest box uses a glossy and sleek material.

Keep in mind that if the package looks elegant and sophisticated, the target market should want an elegant product. For instance, if the product is a cereal aimed towards children ages 5-10, this factor should not be a heavy influence on the package design.

4. Readability

This factor mainly affects font selection and the size of type in the package design, but can also apply to the length of the copy and the overall composition. The goal is to make a connection with the consumer and, by using too much copy or an illegible font, the connection can be very difficult to achieve. The cereal boxes below utilize their own unique (but legible) fonts for the brand names and only include a few, short, necessary messages underneath. The brand names are larger than any other copy in order to promote brand loyalty and recognition. The same tactics were used to creat the Peter Pan package. Again, the brand name is larger than anything else and there are few other words in order to keep the design simple. Don’t let this rule hinder your creativity, though. In some cases, more copy is necessary to get the message across. Also, keep in mind that pictures are often needed to display the product and should be included with the copy.

[Scroll over an image for its source]

Packaging. (n.d.). Reference for Business. Retrieved 2011, from Advameg website:  http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/small/Op-Qu/Packaging.html

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