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Package Design

Not just aesthetics

Let’s talk about what one should be thinking about when it comes to package design.

1. Less is more

As designers, we believe with all our hearts that less is more. However, with many products – especially food or healthcare – the consumer wants to find out more about the product. The product next to yours on the shelf cannot be more feature-ful.

In package design, less is more makes for great aesthetics but doesn’t always aid the primary objective – selling product!

2. Call to action

The call to action is often more important than the design. In fact, in package design the call to action is part of package design. The package designer will always be looking at that balance between aesthetics and a promise supported by education, if required.

Promise: You’ll lose weight.
Education: Makes junk food taste like Brussel sprouts. Throat closes if it detects alcohol.

An amazing product but cleverness and creativity are less important than getting two powerful WHAT and HOW messages across.

3. Marketing stuff

Package designers might find left brain Marketing stuff a distraction to creativity but they need to know about target audiences.

The need is very simple – package designers must know their target audience. Or, the brand manager or client needs to be very clear when briefing the package designer. Apart from demographics and geographics, how does the audience behave and what is important to them?

You’ve got to get into their heads because they’ll be standing in front of the product on the shelf.

4. Grab rare opportunities

Can you apply product concepts to packaging? So if chips are triangular shaped instead of round, can that translate in some way to the product packaging? Can a honey jar look like a honey bee? Is there a moment of magic that you can carry through and inspire the consumer?

This is stuff that package designers live for!

5. Make it workable

Back to earth for the package designer, I’m afraid.

The package designer now needs to think through some heavy stuff. Will it ship easily? Or, will the package designer’s award-winning idea increase shipping costs? And will it pack neatly on the shelf, shop or home?

6. Wrap up

Whether the package designer is working on a big multinational brand or a smaller homemade brand, the principles remain the same:

  • The product packaging is only as good as the product sales;
  • Know your target audience, think like them;
  • Inspiration lies in two places: the simplicity and clarity of the “lose weight” promise or the actual design elements which somehow connect with the consumer; and,
  • Look at all the angles to ensure that the package design is practical.

For a package designer, the thrill is about having a product on the shelf that is not only creating a memorable brand identity but also knowing that design has contributed to successful sales.

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