Looks can mean everything in product packaging. Everyone in the design industry knows that having an eye catching, exciting, unusual and sexy product does you no good if the product is packaged in a bland little paper box. The art of design allows product marketers to have the freedom to find a way to sell their product not only by the quality, quantity and nature of the product itself, but also by the way it is packaged. As consumers, exciting packages naturally catch our eye; for example, bright logos that use exotic fonts, boxes in unusual shapes and other novel forms of market packaging are generally the first thing that draws a customer to an item in the store or on the web that they have not heard of before.
Seeing a unique design makes a customer feel as though if they purchase, own and use that product, they too are as unique and exciting as that creative packaging.
Know Your Demographic
Choosing the correct package design for any product depends on a large number of factors. First of all, what product are you marketing? Who is the key demographic? You may be marketing to young men or middle aged ladies, college girls or new dads. The demographic that you are targeting determines a lot of factors about how a product should be packaged and what aspects of the product should be emphasized by its package.
Think of the package as the external representation of the product. It must give a clear indication of what is inside while incorporating principles of design such as color, shape and texture to attract the key demographic of the product. In the same way that putting an action figure for a 7 year old boy in a pink box with a velour ribbon would not make sense, trying to sell a product for babies aimed at new parents in chic black packaging with sexy lettering and shapes would be counter-intuitive marketing. Think about who you are selling to and what they want to see. Research the best selling competing products in key demographics and see what tactics they use to draw in sales via visual marketing. It is always important that your design be original, because consumers do not want to see something that looks like a ripped off version of something they already like.
The Classics Never Die
One thing that is forgotten by many new designers but always kept in mind by the best of the best is that classics never die. If you are marketing a product that is going to be sold across a range of demographics, classic color combinations, clean lines, crisp fonts, attractive shape and quality structure will sell a product every time. If you are marketing a set of sheets, that set of sheets may be purchased by a man or a woman, and that person may be young or old. You do not have the advantage of having a key demographic to market to. This means that your packaging needs to be able to successfully visually market the product in a way that is simultaneously both unisex and not age driven as well as eye catching and attractive.
Consider the qualities of what you are marketing. For our example, we are referring to a set of high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. They are not the cheapest sheets at the store, but they are definitely among the highest quality. In this case, the package design and use of color and text must emphasize luxury and comfort. Classic colors like black and white paired with silver and gold evoke a sense of richness and make the consumer feel that the sheets would be a luxurious addition to their home.
Putting sheets like these in an inferior package on a shelf with plenty of other sheets that are less expensive will not make them stand out, and consumers will avoid them based on price alone. The packaging must be enough of a draw to make the consumer consider buying up rather than settling for a lesser product.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
An important thing to remember as a package designer is that part of your job is to keep packaging costs down. For this reason, it is important to make the shape of the product you are designing for work for you. If your product has an unusual shape, consider using an unusually shaped box or other package form. As long as the package has stability, a unique shape can draw the eye to a product.
For this example, we will refer to a guitar shaped controller for a popular video game. This controller is a rather large item, being at least three feet long and one foot across. You could easily shove it into a large, decorated cardboard box surrounded by plenty of protective foam, but what about creating a package that is shaped like the controller itself? A simple layer of insulating foam inside the cardboard base of the product would be enough to protect it from any potential damage caused by regular wear and tear before sale. Leaving the front of the package partially open also allows the guitar controller to market itself.
When a child can walk up to the controller and press the buttons as well as see the quality of the controller, he or she will be more drawn to it than something packed away in a box that they cannot see or touch. You will be using less packaging, which is both cheaper and more environmentally sound, and also using an actual visual and tangible experience of the product as a marketing draw.
Finding Your Place In The Product Packaging Design Industry
Creating product packaging design and learning to market using packaging are both challenging aspects of the design field, but they are necessary to learn in order to become a successful product packaging designer. Working in the field of product packaging design and marketing can open you up to a whole new world of creativity in which you must think outside the box in order to build the box. Above all, always remember that packages undeniably sell products, sometimes more than the quality of the product itself, which is the entire reason that market packaging is such a huge industry.