5 Packaging Design Do’s & Don’ts


Want to be the next Dieline Award winner of 2012?  Well, here are a few sure fire ways to make sure your packaging hits it big and doesn’t make it onto the worst dressed list.

Do be consistent:  I know you’ve heard me say this before, but it is a really important point to drive home.  In my blog post Brand Consistency is Key, Just Ask Your Brain, I discussed the human brains love of patterns.  The brain uses patterns as a coping mechanism to handle the influx of infinite information it intakes everyday.  As a result, when those patterns are broken, the brain becomes confused.  Make life easy for consumers.  If you are creating a line of packaging make sure your positioning of elements is that same across all packages.  Ensure font sizes and hierarchy of information remain consistent.  Use color as consistently as possible, and try not to use more than 2 font types prominently.

Don’t be arbitrary:  Everything you do on a package should have a purpose, either to encourage the purchase decision, or to make the consumers life easier or more enjoyable when they get home.  Arbitrary use of color of color is a big no no.  Color’s have symbolism as do shapes and fonts, and they all cue a certain style or emotion.

Do stay true to your identity: Often times when brands introduce a line or a brand extension there is a natural tendency to go renegade.   Marketing teams get caught up in the excitement of their new product and how it breaks the mold, and in turn they violate their packaging design language.  When introducing a new product refer to your core packaging elements (the ones that are ownable to the brand or product) and keep them consistent on the new SKU.

Do imagine the context: Design viewed out of context is a dangerous thing.  If you aren’t viewing your packaging in an environment akin to the one your consumers would be viewing it in, you are doing yourself a disservice. How does your package look and perform next to your competitors?  Does it stand out?  Is it too similar and undifferentiated?  Does is reflect the values of the category?  In order to make an informed design decision (and not one of taste) your packaging design should always be viewed on the store shelf…even if it’s a virtual one.

Do trust the designer: As a marketing professional working at an agency, I am constantly caught between the client and the designer.  The client, rather than questioning a design element, may quickly jump to “like” or “dislike.”  However, there is always a method to the madness and all design elements have been carefully selected to meet an end goal.  So if you see something you are uncertain about, question the reasoning, not the taste level.

And if you want to score major points for being the best client ever DO have a creative brief complete with approved copy points.  Our designers will love your forever!

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