Product Packaging Basics

Product packaging design refers to the creation of the exterior of a product. This includes The material (box, bottle, can, wrapper or any form of container)The font, graphics, colour, and other important information.

A good design tells a story about the product. It visually engages us and the materials used can enhance the user experience by touching and feeling the product. It is a practical tool which engages the consumer and gives that first impression that helps the consumer decider if they should buy the product and what to expect.

Before you start your packaging design. Take a quick look at how the competitors are packaging their product to give you a good idea on 

  1. Where it is sold
  2. How it is sold
  3. Who buys the products.

Questions to ask before you design your packaging.

What is the product?
How big is it? Is it delicate? What is it made of? Does it need to be airtight?
These questions will determine if there are any logistical musts for the product packaging.

Who’s buying the product?
Is it mainly bought by men or women? Is it a bespoke product? 
These questions will determine the design type and whether product needs to give the feeling of luxury

How are people buying the product?
Is this bought in retail? Is this bought online? Are there many other products in the same category in the store?
These questions will help determine how it is going to be packed and form factor.

Do you have a brand requirement?
What fonts does your brand use?  What colour is required? (CMYK or Pantone) Do you have a brand Logo? (Vector file, AI?)

Contents that go on the brand package
Do you have the photos / graphics / instructions / drawings to go on the package? Do you have the text / descriptions / copy to go on the packaging? Do you have required marks? (Barcode / nutritional information / certification) Do you know if you have additional prints (temporary content)  Things you want to print separately like expiry dates and batch number.

Budget
One time cost (on design set up) Per item cost (for materials and labor)
Know your quantities and whether you are going to need to reprint again later and price breaks for higher quantities.

Designs you like
Collect a few designs that you like and file them to show the designer the direction he should take. If there are any designs you dislike, communicate this as well. 

Is this a new product or a product/packaging revamp?
Is this packaging an update of your old packaging, a different product in a similar range of products that you offer, or a completely new design? If they are products in a similar range, will your current design requirements need to be aligned with those.
If you produce several product lines in different categories, will your current requirements need to factor in any similarities

Do you already have a packaging factory or contract product design house?
Does your factory have the necessary machines to complete all processes?
Packaging design will involve many processes which may require services from different factories as some may require quite specialized equipment. Many factories may not even provide all the services under one roof. Special processes from third party are required like – metalic foil, clasps, magnets, and for complex specialization die cut.

Do you have sustainability guidelines to observe?
Recycled paper only? No plastics? Reusable Containers?

Will you need impact or drop test to be conducted?
Merchandise / products may contain fragile items and drop tests are necessary to ensure the product arrives safely during transportation. Sometimes, when the products stored are stacked on top of one another, several types of other tests are required to determine structural integrity of the contents after it is being stacked. Many MNCs have guidelines that need the packaging to conform to impact / drop test parameters

Will there be secondary packaging that this product will be placed within during sales process?
If there are other items, how much clearance do you need and are there other requirements for the other items?