5 Essential Packaging Design Tips for Smaller Brands

When it comes to packaging for your product, you should be viewing its design as one big call to action for the consumer – “buy me; I’m your best option”.

For this reason, it’s imperative that you invest in your packaging design to create something that will set you aside from your competitors and make your product stand out on the shelves or online.

Great branding together with seductive product packaging is a must for smaller brands that are competing against established products and hoping to grab a share of the market.

SEE ALSO: 33 Creative Guerrilla Product Packaging Examples

Need some inspiration on how to create the right packaging for your product? Here are my top tips for smaller brands looking to make a big impact.

Tip 1: Always start by considering form and function

There are two very basic considerations with packaging design – form and function. In its most basic form, packaging keeps the product within safe and intact. But encasing your product in bubble wrap, polystyrene and a blank box won’t exactly lure any new customers, will it? So your packaging also needs to provide the consumers with product information and make it an attractive buying prospect – what it is, why it’s the best product for their needs, and why they need to buy it now.

Here’s a great example of a creative, yet functional custom packaging project I recently worked on for Dewar House Scotch Whiskey:

 Five essential packaging design tips 1

The packaging is successful for a number of reasons, but at its core it addresses the form and function challenge with style and substance. The product is neatly housed, whilst the creative typography band uniquely communicates the product’s contents.

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to be creative

If you want people to think that your product is great quality, then your packaging needs to relate this. If it’s abundantly clear that time, effort and a lot of consideration has gone into your packaging alone, this should speak volumes about the product that it houses.

High quality, creative packaging can also be a strong signal and influencer in the decision making process for the consumer, even if your product is priced a little higher than your cheaper competitors.

Here’s a selection of wooden spoon packaging from Scanwood, designed by Goodmorning Technology:

Five essential packaging design tips 3

Because they are fun and make the product as feature of the packaging, the design helps to three dimensionally enhance the product, whilst effectively conveying the brand’s core values of environmentally friendly processes and natural materials.

Tip 3: Always be clear and concise about what your product is

Sometimes too much creativity leads to product ambiguity. In some cases, it’s not always clear what’s inside the packet or box, and sometimes it’s even harder to find the brand name.

Likewise, bold packaging design littered with product benefits can be confusing and disguises your branding and branding ethos. On the other end of the scale, minimised packaging that focuses solely on brand rather than the product’s benefits is risky; for some worldwide brands and household names, this can work. But for smaller brands looking to break into the market, it can mean frustration for the consumer and a missed sale.

Have a look at this pasta box designed by Igor Manasteriotti for Fioli Pasta:

 Five essential packaging design tips 2

The packaging works for several reasons. The brand name is unfussy and clear, the product’s benefits are located on the side of the simple, white label so the consumer doesn’t have to go searching for information, and the transparent plastic packaging means that the quality of the product is easily viewable.

Tip 4: Displaying via bricks and mortar vs online

The environment that your product will be sold in will have a huge impact on your product’s packaging design. In a bricks-and-mortar store, it’s likely that you product will be stacked on a shelf, hung, or put on a display stand. But as a smaller brand, you’ll want to maximise your potential audience by also selling your product online.

In an online sales environment, consumers don’t have the ability the pickup, touch and weigh up the product in their hands. Touch is a sense that simply cannot be accessed in digital stores, so you have to compensate and appeal to the other senses. On screen, the same rule applies that you need to make your product stand out, but other factors such as typography and colour palette are more important than ever.

Here’s a great example of a product that is appealing and eye-catching in both a digital sales and bricks and mortar environment. 

Five essential packaging design tips 4

These Reynolds & Reyner-designed Noté earphones not only include a slot for hanging displays in a bricks and mortar store, but with the earphones integral to the packaging design itself, when situated alongside each other on screen they become an eye-catching mini art exhibition.

Tip 5: Get outside advice

For many smaller businesses, budgets can be modest and money can be tight. The team may be small – sometimes just one or two people, and the skills and knowledge needed to cover all elements of the business from product design, to marketing and packaging, are best left in the hands of an expert. You might have a good eye for what works, but coming up with the goods is a different matter entirely.

If bringing in the services of an agency isn’t an option, don’t be afraid to seek advice from a smaller local specialist packaging consultancy to help you to develop your brand.  An experienced consultancy will not only help keep your budget in check, but will also have all the relevant information and knowledge you need to hand.

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