For most businesses, package design is the cherry on top of any branding venture. As one of the most direct forms of interaction your audience will have with your brand, packaging design should not only be practical but also a good representation of who you are as a business. It should help to enforce your company message and ideals and be representative of your audience and what they appreciate in terms of lifestyle and aesthetics.
Discovering Your Brand Identity
Identity is different than being just a brand or a logo, in fact it extends far beyond that, and understanding the brand identity will make any design undertaking that much easier to define. In most cases, it’s comprised of many visual aspects, including the logo but also web design, marketing collateral, the shop itself and of course, packaging. All of these things that represent the brand from a visual standpoint typically follow the same set guidelines in terms of color, font, layout etc. But if a company is rooted in firm beliefs, say for example in environmentalism or healthy living; that becomes part of their identity too. Packaging should be indicative of all these, using the respective examples above it could involve coffee cups made of a recyclable material or flexible water bottles for portability during activity.
We know we’re not the only ones who rely on our intuition to influence our buying decisions. In fact, when it comes to shopping, most people rely on their instincts and emotions more than anything else and packaging can be most persuasive. Depending on your target audience it could be a matter of showcasing certain elements in the product or packaging itself (like sustainability), by catering to a certain generation (like children) or simply being clever about it (the ol ‘I see what you did there’). Really clever package designs are the ones that stick in your mind and get people talking, which is the ultimate marketing accomplishment. For instance, take packaging that’s been inspired by the product, such as a honey jar made to look like a beehive, or those that incorporate the product directly into the package design itself.
Like with any design, functionality is key and package design is no different. The end goal of any product is generating a positive experience and package design contributes to this right from the get go. Consider the practicality of the design, how easy is it to access the product? Is it unwieldy and awkward to store? Is it practical for daily life? Of course strong graphic design and looks matter but functionality should never be compromised for the sake of beauty. Make the user experience your top priority and let any other decisions evolve from there.
After all is said and done, the moral of the story is to do your homework in understanding both the brand identity as well as the audience. But it’s also important to take risks; sometimes the best way to stand out is by stepping off the beaten path and letting your freak flag fly. At the end of the day, good package design is a valuable asset and if you design with the consumer in mind, they‘ll pay you back in tenfold with brand loyalty.