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7 Packaging Design Tips and Tricks (+ Examples to Inspire You)

Piotr Smietana
Piotr Smietana9 min read
Packaging Design Tips & Inspiration - Superside

If we got a penny for every time we bought something just because the package looked so good, we’d have a lump sum in the bank. And we’re not alone: it turns out that 81% of consumers will buy a product simply because of how it looks.

Now, with the holiday season right around the corner, packaging design is more important than ever.

With the busiest commercial season of the year quickly approaching, it is vitally important that you present your product to customers with the right packaging.

With the right product packaging, you can capture your target audience's attention in a far more efficient (and cost-effective) manner than through just marketing, advertising or other promotional methods.

But what makes a good package design?

In this article, we’ll discuss seven packaging design tips and tricks to help you make the most of this holiday season (and beyond!)

Here's what we'll cover:


Embrace minimalism

Tailor packaging design to the product category

Design for extensibility

Match packaging design with your target audience

Know the package design use context

Design for greater shelf impact

Make your packaging user-friendly

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1. Embrace Minimalism

By minimalism, we don’t mean going full Scrooge and ignoring the holiday season altogether. Instead, it’s about saying more with less.

Many product packages are jam-packed with fonts and colors, flashing images, and layers upon layers of information—which triggers visual information overload for the target consumer. By switching to minimalism, you can make your packaging design stand out.

Make it Colorful

Don’t forget the power of color either,  overdoing or underdoing color use can have a negative impact on your customer’s view of your product.

To incorporate minimalism in your package design:

  • Use grids to create and maintain information hierarchy.
  • Implement a flat design. A flat design uses functional design elements—like two-dimensional illustrations and symbols—to communicate with the target audience without interrupting their user experience.
  • Leave plenty of white space/negative space.
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This mock-up from Unblast is an excellent example of a minimalist design. The designer uses white space richly to create balance and contrast between the image, logo and text.

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2. Tailor Packaging Design to the Product Category

Match your design with the typical packaging concept for your product category. It allows your target audience to quickly identify your product by cross-referencing the design with what they already know. You want your audience to immediately recognize your product, even if they're unfamiliar with your brand.

Bespoke

If you’re like Brio, one of our clients, you might need bespoke packaging that speaks to your needs and industry.

Brio is a covid testing logistics company that used Superside to create brand-aligned packaging for all of their testing and lab equipment. Not only does this help with brand recognition and promotion, but the consistent design and packaging also create a greater sense of quality and reliability: something that is essential in the healthcare industry.

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People have subconscious packaging expectations for different products. Of course, you're free to add your unique twist to the packaging design. Still, it must contain easily-identifiable elements that align with the basic design requirements of your product category. For example, most people expect the packaging design for bottled water to have a shade of blue. Using purple or red as the dominant color of a water brand's packaging design is less expected.

How to research

There are two simple ways to get the information required to tailor your packaging design with category expectations:

  • Conduct audience research

Administer simple market research surveys to know what your target audience expects the typical packaging in your general product category to look like. You can publish your surveys on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to gather responses from a diverse audience.

  • Conduct competitor research

Compare the packaging designs of your competitors to uncover any similarities they have. Do they all use fonts from the same typography? Or do they use different shades of the same color? These similarities are the core design elements of your product category.


3. Design for Extensibility

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The absolute masters of holiday-themed brand extensibility (you could even argue they invented the Christmas theme itself)

Every year, companies struggle to switch from their year-round packaging to a more festive theme. It’s not just about adding a Christmas tree or a few snowflakes to your packaging, it’s also about retaining brand recognition and style. Or, you can take an aspect of your brand and put it into the Christmas spotlight.

Tweak your design

Extensibility means the business can tweak its product packaging to fit newly-introduced product variations or subbrands without sacrificing visual appeal.

Tweaking existing packaging to meet new demands saves resources and allows you to ship your new products faster. In addition, you will use the brand recognition of the existing product to push the latest one and gain market share rather than starting from scratch.

4. Match Packaging Design With Your Target Audience

To capture the attention of your target audience, your packaging design needs to appeal to their tastes and preferences.

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Christmas Time!

The Christmas season is a perfect time to experiment with this. If you’re promoting a refined, high-quality product, it would make no sense to create a traditional, low-quality Christmas-themed design. Instead, add more subtle festive elements to ensure your product maintains its known reputation for quality.

Christmas and the holiday season can mean completely different things to many people, make sure you’ve identified the correct target audience for your product before diving head-first into the tinsel and mistletoe.

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Market research

Market research with demographic survey questions can help you better understand who your customers are, the kind of realities that shape their purchasing decisions and their pain points. You can synthesize the market research data to create solid buyer personas to inform your design direction.

If it’s your first time creating branded packaging, your best option is to look at what you’ve created digitally and how you can recreate that in a physical format.

This is something AnyRoad did by using Superside to convert their online brand presence into their new range of physical merchandising.

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Just a few examples of the packaging and merchandise Superside created for AnyRoad

5. Know the Package Design Use Context

Package design use context will help you make the best decision about what the product packaging should look like and be made of. When you're clear on the packaging design use context, you can create packaging that effectively supports every stage of the product usage cycle. For example, if the product will be refrigerated, you need product packaging that can withstand cold dampening.

Shape Shifting

One of the best design examples of this is the VanMoof cycling company. After years of having serious damage caused to their customers’ deliveries, their designers decided to take a novel approach. Brainstorming on what delivered products are given the highest quality of care, they created packaging that resembled a TV.

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Overnight, their incidents of damage to deliveries practically disappeared.

Don’t be afraid to, quite literally, think outside the box around packaging ideas, especially around durability and reliability. Investigate new packaging ideas, materials, and designs to find the best layout that keeps your product safe from harm.

6. Design for Greater Shelf Impact

It’s Christmas Eve, you’re doing some last-minute shopping (again). As you sprint down aisle no. 99 looking for that final present, your eyes are practically drowning in red, green and gold. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you catch something. A package, in cool (yet wintery) blue, stands out from the rest. It’s a limescale remover, you know that even you aren’t desperate enough to gift that to your aunt Irene, you move on.

Consumers see the bulk before the details

Shelf impact means that your product packaging design is distinguishable, attractive and catches the eye of the consumer amid unlimited alternatives.

For the consumer, the products are never seen alone and never detailed. Because the distance to shelves is so large and products are placed by row and column, we only notice veritable shapes of various types. It takes us a while before we see an item, pick it up and examine it closely.

Three Packaging Design Techniques

Shelf impact improves brand awareness and increases the chances of higher product sales. These three packaging design techniques will help you achieve greater shelf impact:

  1. Choose colors that match the emotional response you want the target consumer to have when they see your product.

  2. Use design hierarchy to draw the consumer's attention to the most important information on the packaging.

  3. Eliminate clutter in your design.

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7. Make Your Packaging User-Friendly

It happens every year. The kids unwrap their present, you see it needs scissors to get into, the scissors snap in half trying to get through the plastic. Using the electric turkey carver, you finally get in only to realize that you need 12 AA batteries. You cry, your kids cry, the dog cries: Christmas is ruined, again.

"How Do I Open This Thing?"

There's nothing worse than product packaging that's impossible to open or use (looking at you, clamshell plastic). While your packaging needs to protect the product, consumers should still be able to access it easily without damaging the product itself.

To create user-friendly packaging, consider the consumer's needs, wants, and expectations.

Here are some usability tips to help you:

  1. Make the package easy to open. Add instructions on how to open the package if it is a bit complex.
  2. If the product can be used multiple times, make it easy for the consumer to reseal the package.
  3. Make your packaging eco-friendly and reusable.
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Source: Sheyn packaging from Packhelp on Pinterest

Sheyn is an Austrian-based 3-D homeware brand that's winning with user-friendly packages. Their items are packaged in simple, easy-to-open Kraft mailer boxes. Even better, these boxes are made from recycled paper, in line with the brand's commitment to eco-friendly products and designs.

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Your Product Packaging Should Tell Your Brand Story

Your brand story communicates the "why" behind your brand, your values and your unique value proposition.

Bake this narrative into every aspect of your business, especially your product packaging. When someone picks up your product for the first time, they should clearly understand what your brand stands for and what matters to you.

For example, if you're an eco-friendly business, the packaging material you use and other design elements, like images, colors and text, must communicate this.

Businesses use Superside to create unique product packaging designs that tell their brand stories. Check out our packaging design services to see how we can help your team.




Published: Dec 19, 2022
Piotr Smietana
Written by
Piotr Smietana
Piotr is a Marketing Creative Director at Superside, based in Cracow, Poland. He's a video marketing expert with over 9 years of experience in digital marketing, advertising, gaming and the film industry. When not at work, you can find him flying his drone on an epic adventure, jamming on the electric guitar, or hitting up a nearby music festival.

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