How To Create Great Packaging Design: Step-By-Step

how to create great packaging design

Are you ready to take your packaging to the next level? Whether you're an online retailer or a brick-and-mortar store, great packaging design can be a key factor in attracting and retaining customers. But where do you start?

In this article, we'll walk you through the steps to creating the perfect packaging design for your business. From understanding your brand identity to considering the environmental impact of your materials, we'll cover everything you need to know to make your packaging stand out and get noticed. 

So let's get started on creating packaging that truly represents your brand and appeals to your customers!

What is Packaging Design?

Packaging design is creating an ideal container for your products — making it easy for consumers to differentiate between close substitutes. The design is not all about the packaging graphics, but also the choice of material, the ability to hold your items, protect them during transit and convey information about your product and brand.

The Importance Of Great Product Packaging Design

skincare packaging

According to a consumer study by the Paper and Packaging Board and IPSOS, 72% of the respondents stated that the packaging design influences their buying habits. As such, you must take advantage of your packaging design since it is an important marketing tool for any business.

How To Create Great Packaging Design: Step-By-Step

Phase 1: Planning

This is the research stage where you define your product, consumer, market, and design strategies.

1. Analyze your product and your customer

Know what you're selling and who you will be selling it to. Your packaging design should align with the customer’s profile to enable you to convert prospects into leads and increase customer satisfaction. 

You will have to assess your target market's demographics, preferences, and spending habits. For instance, if they are environmentally conscious, your product packaging must be eco-friendly to appeal to them.

2. Know your product's requirements

What kind of product are you selling? What’s their size and texture? Are they fragile? Some products require special requirements. For example, when shipping shoes safely, you will need extra packaging materials for cushioning and wrapping.

3. Know how consumers will buy the product

Will they buy it online? In-store? Depending on the purchasing channel, you can optimize the packaging style to sufficiently handle the medium. Packaging for an in-store and online store product will be different, including their delivery journey to the consumer or from the factory to the shelf.

4. Note your package design preferences

You need to define and list down all your design needs. Do you want it to be eco-friendly? Will it contain many decorative items (stickers, tapes, ribbons) on the packaging, or do you want a simple, minimalist method?

5. Choose the right kind of packaging for your product

Select the most appropriate packaging solution to enhance your product & customer experience. Some of the most common packaging types are:

  •         Paperboard boxes – cosmetics, medicines, supplements
  •         Corrugated boxes – shoes, clothing items
  •         Poly bags – food items, chemicals, flowers
  •         Rigid boxes – luxury products such as jewelry, high-end electronics
  •         Bottles/cans – liquid products, seeds
  •         Bubble mailers – fragile items, documents

Consider how you can use these different packaging to showcase your unique items.

Phase 2: The Packaging Design Process

After the planning stage, this is the project planning stage, where you determine how to allocate resources and build up your design team.

6. Determine a workable budget

How much will the graphic design cost? What are your one-time costs versus recurring costs? Your budget is crucial in making sound financial decisions for your eCommerce business. The budget should sustain the entire design process without affecting your monthly cash flow and bottom line. While you must provide adequate funding for high-quality designs, only spend what you can make.

7. Find a talented package designer

Creating a great packaging design requires a competent designer to bring your ideas to life. Behance and 99designs are big portfolio websites where packaging designers showcase their work. Crowdsourcing sites provide a variety of cheap packaging designs, but their relationships are usually short-lived.

Designing agencies give you access to a host of experienced designers providing quality and unique packages. They are pricey but provide value for your money. Alternatively, you can hire freelance designers from reputable sites such as LinkedIn, Fiver, or Upwork.  

Some of the things to ask your package designer to determine their professionalism are:

  •         A Sample of their best works
  •         Any projects they are currently on
  •         Their experience in packaging design
  •         How long they take to complete projects
  •         The type of printing software and equipment they use

8. Collaborate with the package designer

Collaboration with your designer ensures that the packaging design meets everyone’s expectations. Communicate clearly what you expect them to deliver. Constant back-and-forth communication is essential, especially in the early stages of production. They have to be flexible to handle any changes that may arise along the way, with the designer offering functional guidance in the

design development.

Pricing is another crucial aspect before committing to a designer. It would be best to strike a balance between what you are willing to pay and what the designer is charging. As a start-up, you must be careful when negotiating your terms, especially with design companies. Check out our previous blog for tips on how to work with designers.

Perfection requires time and effort so you should provide realistic timelines for your designer. Allow the designer enough time to complete your packing design to your standards. In retrospect, the lead time should not be too long that your projects get sidetracked.

9. Or, opt for DIY packaging options

DIY packaging

DIY packaging options are also available for small businesses looking for affordable packaging designs. Add your business logo stamp on a simple canvas bag to make it unique. Drawstrings or canvas tote bags work perfectly with jewelry, accessories, and cosmetic items.

Typography is growing in popularity as a cost-effective option for graphic design. Vibrant font styles with bigger subheadings than the standard texts appeal to customers. Keep your typefaces consistent for legible texts and eye-catching decorations. Use the right font color and size, aligning them properly while maximizing your white space (space around text or graphics).

Check out Canva for inspiring templates you can use to create your designs.

Phase 3: Bring It To Life!

The packaging design process's third and final stage before production starts.

10. Choose your product package

Before selecting your product package, the most important things to consider are the following:

  •         What material to use – paper or plastic? 68% of consumers prefer paper packaging to plastic
  •         Your budget – designing costs, production costs, shipping fees
  •         Customer appeal – what are their preferences? Research the demographics of your intended audience and incorporate them into your final designs.
  •         Ease of transport – is it durable? The package should maintain its shape/ integrity until it reaches its final destination.
  •         Product specifications – what is the shape and size of the product? Is it fragile or bulky?
  •         Package style – straight or reverse tuck end? Single or double wall?

By answering the above questions, you align your product packaging to your branding needs.

11. Select your printing option

Primarily, there are three different printing options:

  •         Lithographic: It is ideal for high print quality; high volume output. While you can print on a variety of surfaces, they must be flat for adhesiveness. Suitable for poly mailers, folding cartons, and rigid boxes.
  •         Flexographic: It is more cost-effective than lithography, but the print quality could be better, and the color gradient could be smoother. You can use it for corrugated boxes, paper, and plastic bags.
  •         Digital printing. Better-suited for small businesses seeking simple designs. Printers and cartridges are readily available, making printing convenient and efficient. Besides, with no need for printing plates, the option is very straightforward and has a lower cost per unit for small volumes. Ideal for folding cartons, corrugated boxes, and pouches.

You will choose the most suitable printing method depending on your order volume, printing budget, and the color accuracy you require. Usually, manufacturers will need high MOQs to complete your orders. While there are bulk discounts, the high number of items demanded can be costly for a small business. Thus, it's crucial to align your finances with the printing options.

12. Order a sample or package prototype

A sample or packaging prototype serves as the best way to visualize the various aspects of your packaging before you can start mass production. It allows you to evaluate the packaging design (color, material, artwork, and finishing) and make any necessary changes.

As a reflection of your brand, the sample must reflect your design concept and execute all your branding requirements to appeal to the customers. Besides, the quality of the packaging should be able to keep your product safe during its handling and transit to the consumer.

Suppose your budget permits requests for samples and quotes from different suppliers. It will enable you to compare the various production and shipping prices to determine their feasibility. You will also be able to decide how long it takes to receive the goods at your preferred destination.

Bottomline

E-commerce platforms are very competitive, and your packaging design can make or break your customer experience. You should skip no step to create the best packaging design right, from analyzing your product and consumer to ordering a package prototype. The process is vital in ensuring your product draws consumers and consequently creates brand loyalty.

Check out our blog for more packaging and shipping solutions for small and eCommerce businesses.

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