When it comes to purchasing behaviour, packaging is just as important as the product itself, as it is the first point of contact between the consumer and your product in store. So it’s worth putting some effort into the design of your packaging.
However creating and designing packaging for your food product can be a challenging process, especially if you are running a small company with little experience in the matter. That’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide on how to go about designing your packaging (or getting it designed!), from start to finish.
1. Select materials and type of packaging
There are many materials and types of packaging you can use; you are spoiled for choice. You will need to decide early in the process if you are going to use a box, tray and sleeve, tub, jar, pouch and so on, and how it is going to be sealed. The primary function of packaging is to protect your product, so some factors to take into consideration are the nature of your product, its shape, size, weight and of course your budget.
2. Get familiar with industry regulations
Not complying with packaging regulations can have serious consequences, such as product recall. So researching what regulations apply in your country of operation is absolutely crucial.
In Ireland, European regulations are applied and they are governed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). Here are a few pointers:
-Food companies are obliged by law to provide information to the consumer such as ingredients, use by or best before date and net quantity (note: a nutrition declaration will become mandatory from 13 December 2016).
-Pay particular attention to allergen information, which must be displayed in a very specific way.
-All mandatory information should have a minimum font size of 1.2mm (measuring the height of lower case characters). For smaller packaging where the area of the largest surface is less than 80cm2, the minimum font size is 0.9mm.
3. Gather all necessary information
When possible, it is best not to enter the creative phase of your packaging design before you have all the necessary information ready. Prepare ingredients list, nutritional information, barcodes etc so they don’t get in the way of creativity later on! This will save you a lot of time. If you are using a design studio, you will need to provide your company logo and possibly brand guidelines.
There is one last step before you get started on the creative aspect of your design: look at what your competition is doing.
4. Research your competition
Another function of product packaging is to differentiate your product. Chances are, your product is going to sit on a shelf right next to your competitors’, so the last thing you want is for your packaging to look similar to theirs. Research your competitors’ packaging online, or even better, in store.
Moodley Manor’s range definitely stands out at the healthy, vegan aisle with its rock’n’roll look!
5. Work on your overall design concept
At last, it’s time to get creative!
In order for your packaging to be successful, you need to consider the following:
-brand identity: what does your brand stand for? does it have a distinctive personality? What image it it trying to convey?
-Positioning: Packaging is often an accurate indicator of a product’s price and quality. Where is your product located on the product positioning map?
-Consumer persona: Who is your target customer? How can you use design to make a connection?
6. Pick the main design elements
For its super healthy wheatgrass and barleygrass products, The Little Pharma picked a natural, subtle beige with touches of green.
According to a study by the University of Delaware, packaging colours account for nearly 85% of the reason why someone purchases a product (Entrepreneur.com).
Here is a great article on how to choose your packaging colour:
The most important thing here is to get the right balance between legibility and visual appeal. This post by 99Designs does a great job explaining how to choose the right font for your design:
There is some debate around the use of food photography on packaging. On one hand, the consumer may be disappointed when the product doesn’t look as good as on the packaging. On the other hand, a picture of what is inside the packaging can increase consumer confidence. If do do decide to use photography, get the pictures taken by professional food photographers for the best possible result. But the trend today is toward more simple graphics and the use of vector illustrations.
7. Add extra value
Many food companies now include serving suggestions or even recipes on their product packaging. This gives the consumer an extra incentive to purchase. This is especially true if your product is not a common, widely used one. Consumers might not know what to use it in!
8. Get digital
If you have a presence online, make sure to refer to it on your packaging. Display website links and social media icons to attract the consumer to your online channels.
9. Proof the final artwork
Check each design element against your brand guidelines and proofread all copy carefully. Pay particular attention to regulations! Print the artwork for proofreading, you will be more likely to spot mistakes, including typos, on a hard copy.