Some purposes of custom product packaging are fairly straightforward. Obviously, you need your product to stand out when compared to all the others on the shelf beside it, giving it a recognizable face, and custom packaging design is the best way to do that. You also need the packaging to give potential buyers all the necessary information. But in order to move from being purely functional to being a strong marketing tool, custom product packaging should do a bit more, as well.
A retail packaging design should also build your company’s overall brand. This term simply refers to the name, design or features that make your company or product unique, but it’s a powerful concept in the marketing world; research shows 63% of marketers think that spending on branding will increase in the next year. How can product packaging contribute to this broader goal? There are three vital things packaging should do above all else:
1 - Engage the Viewer’s Emotions
People may like to think that they’re rational, but buying decisions are heavily influenced by emotion. You want your packaging to make people 'feel' something, not think something. Do some research on biomotive triggers, or the triggers that can make people react instinctually before they consciously respond. In packaging design, these triggers have much more to do with visual cues (faces, colors, shapes) than with actual words, so that’s where the bulk of the effort should be put in.
2- Offer Relief From Visual Noise
Sometimes it’s so easy to get carried away with creative packaging design that the final result is overly ornate or impractical. Consumers are bombarded with options, constantly overstimulated by the packages of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of products on the shelves in front of them. Offering them a moment of visual calm with a simple design can boost your product big time and give your brand a reputation as a problem-solver -- consumers won’t just keep buying your product, they’ll feel relief when they see it in the store.
3 - Pass the 5-Year-Old Test
The goal in packaging design should be to create a brand so iconic, even a 5-year-old would be able to identify it from a description. The images on many cereal boxes are great examples: If you told a 5-year-old to go into a cereal aisle and choose the box with a tiger wearing a red kerchief around his neck, he or she would almost certainly come back with a box of Frosted Flakes. If you’re struggling to describe your design concept in a way a kindergartner would understand, it’s probably time to re-design.
What other elements make for great custom product packaging? Share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments.