If your brand is in the business of consumer goods, it’s likely your team has a packaging expert on staff or consultant on hand to offer input and guidance on what packaging looks, feels and even smells like before products hit the shelves. Even still, package design relates so closely with the visual identity of a product and a brand that it’s truly to the advantage of all marketers to understand what makes for effective package design. A recent Blue Paper® covers the topic of package design much more in depth, but here’s a sneak peek…

Tips for developing a package design strategy:
Package design strategy consists of research and is closely aligned with the overall marketing and business strategies of a brand. Here are the basic steps needed to help develop a successful package design:Start with research
Research for product design starts with an understanding of:

  • Your brand—What’s its purpose? Its history? Its target markets? What does it look like, feel like, smell like, sound like? What are your current marketing plans and objectives? How will this product fit into these?
  • The product—What does it do? Who is it for? How does it make someone’s life better, easier? How does it outshine the competition? What are its attributes? What key messages can be gleaned from these?
  • The market—Who is going to buy your product? Where is it sold? How much does it cost?
  • The product category and competitors—Who’s competing in this space? What does their packaging look like? What are buying behaviours and preferences of consumers in relation to this category? What does the projected growth look like?

Essentially, before developing packaging, marketers and brands need to have a thorough understanding of who they are, what their target audience wants and needs and who the competition is. Gathering team members from the marketing department, the c-suite and front line employees for a brainstorming session is a great place to start—have plenty of notepads, pens, and examples of current branding on hand. Not only will this focus a package design strategy, it will help define what information needs to be on a package, where and how a package will be found in a store, and what it looks like.

Define target audiences
After completing research, you should have a very clear picture of what your target audience looks like. Develop a narrative or a dossier of sorts that presents who this person is, what they are interested in where they live, where they shop, how they buy, why they buy and more. Include this in your strategy but also display it in common areas for your team to see—on banners and bulletin boards—and keep it in mind as they develop the package design.

Establish objectives
You’ve already determined your marketing objectives, but you need to consider the objectives of packaging, too. What image do you hope the packaging portrays of your brand and the particular product? What feelings are you hoping to evoke; what actions are you hoping to inspire?

Determine communication priorities
Packaging has finite space to communicate with audiences. For this reason, carefully prioritize the key messages your brand is hoping to relay to consumers based on their interests, needs and wants. If they only read one sentence, what would you want that sentence to say and how should it be interpreted? What’s more, decide on what elements—both visual and not—of your brand that needs to be conveyed in the copy or through visual identity of the package.

Establish a budget
The cost of package design varies with the options—it’s practically endless. Determine a comfortable figure for the cost of printing and assembling well in advance of concepting in order to define and limit options. A final number can be quoted out after a concept has been developed and decided upon.

Develop a concept
Finally, use all of this information to develop a concrete concept for a package to deliver to your design team or agency. Create a creative brief that includes this strategy along with samples of similar looks and feels you aim to go for. Once designers understand their parameters and instructions, they can move forward with mock-ups that can then be tested on sample audiences before money is spent on full-fledged distribution. Try testing internally first—encourage staff members to provide honest, anonymous feedback through a simple survey. Reward them for their participation with fun prizes like chocolate bar thank-yous or a design-er (get it?!) tote.

Package design is an important part of any marketing plan that involves a product—not only is the messaging and visual identity of a package a reflection of consistent branding, it serves to reinforce marketing messages and enhance the overall customer experience. For more tips like this, check out the Blue Paper® today!


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