6 design tips to get shiny packaging on the shelf

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Product packaging, as a graphic design discipline, is an industry itself.
But this demanding design area requires more than a good eye, so let’s see what makes and breaks good packaging design.

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1. Clarity and simplicity

Next time you go to a supermarket, pick a random shelf and browse through some products. Glance at each and ask yourself two very simple questions:
1.    What’s this product for?
2.    What’s the brand behind it?

You’ll find products listing dozen of benefits with no clear brand name. You’ll find products that look great on the outside yet fail to explain what’s in the box.

So remember rule number one: be clear about the product, be clear about the brand.

2. Honesty

Consumers have nothing against simple, inexpensive products, as long as they know what they’re buying. Of course they expect “face lifting” to some degree but not to a point where product appears to be something entirely different.

As a designer, your task is to represent the product in the best way possible but keep in mind that consumers – you included – deserve to be treated right.

3. Authenticity

Originality, character and memorability are at the heart of great packaging designs.It’s easy to understand why – there are hundreds of products out there, all competing for consumers’ attention. The only way to set your brand apart is to be different, to be authentic.

If you’re stuck with a generic looking packaging design then apply an uncommon design style with strong “visual standards.”

Be bold, be different and look into other product categories for unexpected sources of inspiration.
4. Shelf impact

From a shopper’s point of view, a product is never seen alone and never in great detail. Because of the viewing distance from shelves and the fact that products are arranged in rows and columns, all we see are veritable patterns made of various products. It’s not until a certain pattern attracts our attention that we decide to take a closer look.

Shelf impact is something you need to test and explore in the design. You can do this by imitating the placement of your design on an actual shelf and surround it by other products. The more distinctive it looks, the better it sells.

5. Extensibility

A product packaging design concept should allow for an easy introduction of a new line extension (product variation) or a sub-brand.

You should always design product packaging with the future in mind. This means creating a visually systematic design which allows for easy changes of product visual or other information, so you get a fine looking family of products in the end.

6. Practicality

Practicality deals with the actual shape, size and functionality of the product container, not just the label or wrap. The more practical the product, the more sales it gets – when a famous ketchup company turned the bottle upside down, sales skyrocketed.

Packaging design is a large and demanding design field always looking for designers who can deliver both product originality and sales performance. Packaging is the last message a consumer sees and a last chance to convince him to buy the product.

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