6 Packaging Design Tips for Start-ups

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Written by Mark Chapman, the Sales Manager for UK based custom and bespoke packaging specialists, Project Packaging.

The old adage tells us not judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to your product, your consumers most certainly will.

Packaging is essentially your branding. It’s what your consumers will see first before they get their hands on your product, so it’s crucial that you invest time, money and research into creating something that will help your product stand out on the shelves.

Therefore good branding and seductive packaging is especially important for start-ups who are making their debut on the scene.

I’ve helped numerous brands and businesses to create the right packaging that took them from start-up to household names. Here are my six essential tips for packaging design for start-ups.

Form and function
On a basic level, packaging is there to protect and house your product. But packaging your product in bubble wrap and a white box wouldn’t make an impact on consumers. So packaging should be there to both inform consumers of the benefits of your product as well as being attractive.

For example, take a look at this recent custom packaging design for a Dewar House Scotch Whiskey:

The bottle is protected but the contents can still be seen, and the brand has incorporated a subtle but stylish typeface banner around the bottle displaying the brand name, alcohol percentage and a brief brand history.

Be creative
Good quality and creative packaging entices consumers. Once consumers pick up your product, if they can see the amount of consideration that has gone into your packaging it will create an enjoyable experience and can influence their decision to choose your product over a cheaper competitor.

Take a look at these bearded paintbrush packaging designs by simon laliberté for Poilu:

These quirky designs have cleverly incorporated the natural hair bristles of the product by repurposing them as moustache illustrations for the branded packaging.

Be clear
Often, when you browse the shelves at your local supermarket, it isn’t clear what the majority of the products are for. And sometimes it’s even harder to find the brand name.

You’ll see many products incorporating overly bold design to convey product benefits without a clear brand name or logo. You’ll also spot a package that has a clear brand name but very little detail about the benefits.

Whilst minimalist design is alluring for some products, e.g high end toiletries, failing to identify the brand and product content can leave a consumer frustrated and cost you a sale.
Take this bag of rice design from Mighty Rice:

The brand name is clear and written in a recognisable typeface. The benefits are printed underneath the brand name but set against transparent plastic to allow consumers to see the quality of the product.

Seek outside advice
As a start-up, money might be tight. However, if you’re the brains behind the project, you might not have the same acumen for design as you do for product creation and commerciality.

If hiring an agency is out of your price range, my advice is to seek help from a packaging consultancy to help you develop your brand. They’ll have the know-how about packaging quality guidelines and practical considerations for packaging your product (possibly things that you might not have considered).

Local, smaller consultancies will be more affordable and willing to be competitive on price and they’ll still offer the same fantastic advice that a larger company will.

Consider display – store shelves or online?
Selling a product in a bricks and mortar store is a lot different to selling something over the internet. If you’re selling through a bricks and mortar store, you’re product will most likely be stacked or hung, so ensure that you factor this into the design. For digital sales, consumers are unable to touch and feel the product before purchase, so you must appeal to their other senses. For instance: make the typography and colour palette interesting and unique to make the product stand out on the screen.

For example, these Noté earphones designed by Reynolds & Reyner incorporate a hanging slot for physical display, but also the composition of the earphones as musical notes across a musical score make the packaging interesting enough for screen resolutions.

Don’t be wasteful

With sustainable packaging global concern, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy over how the products they buy affect the environment.

Many households recycle and expect to be able to recycle the packaging they buy. So developing an original design that’s also eco-friendly will win the hearts and sales of consumers.

Many supermarkets are now actively reducing the packaging sizes of their own brand items (yes, you’re direct competitors) so it’s important to follow trends.

It’s also worth noting that different countries have different packaging requirement guidelines, so be sure to check these out before you get into the design stages to save yourself a lot of time and money later down the line.

About the author
Mark Chapman is the Sales Manager for UK based custom and bespoke packaging specialists, Project Packaging. Mark has managed and helped to manufacture the design and creation of a variety of packaging solutions. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.