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It’s what’s on the outside that counts: Why packaging design is so important for your brand

Packaging Design

In a world bursting with brands, great packaging isn’t just nice-to-have, it’s essential. Well-designed packaging communicates with your customers and helps your products stand out on the shelf.

It begins with branding

Before you think about designing packaging, you need to have a strong brand. The word comes from the practice of branding cattle, and in many ways, the concept is the same - it’s a way of identifying what belongs to you.

A strong brand isn’t just a great name or logo (although those are important) it has a unique personality that makes it different from competitors. That unique personality helps your customers understand what you’re selling - and, more importantly, remember who you are.

Consistency counts

Consistent branding for all your products - and in fact, everything associated with your brand - is key. That can mean consistent colours, fonts, imagery, or even a distinctively shaped box or packet. Whatever you do with your packaging, you want customers to be able to find your products easily, and apply their perceptions of your brand to everything you sell.

That’s why packaging is such an important part of brand building. Whatever your product, the right packaging design and branding can be a great way to improve your brand image.

Here’s what great packaging can do: 

Help create a strong, instantly recognisable identity for your brand

Improve your product’s saleability - appealing or functional packaging can mean the difference between someone choosing your product or a competitor

Contribute to your marketing efforts - distinctive packaging can send a message about your product in a split second.

Building brand relationships

A big part of branding is building relationships with consumers. You want people to have positive feelings about your brand and what it stands for, so they’re more likely to seek out your products or services.

Packaging can play an important part in creating positive impressions - your choice of logo, colour, imagery and materials can have a big impact on the perceived value of your brand. If you’re selling a deluxe, high-end product, your packaging design should reflect that. On the other hand, well-designed packaging can work to make a cheaper product seem more high end - increasing the perceived value of your product can help you raise the price and improve your profits.

In the long run, great packaging should help your customers enjoy the experience of buying and using your products - which is the best way to keep them coming back.

Selling on the shelf

Well-designed packaging can have an instant impact - if your product looks great on the shelf and grabs customer attention, they could be taking it to the checkout seconds later.

That’s why you need to consider visual impact and messaging in your packaging. It’s not just about consumers - the people who make decisions about shelf space in stores also need to be impressed. If your packaging looks attractive, professional and high quality, it’s more likely to be chosen by consumers - and it’s more likely to get that prime spot on the shelf, making it more likely to be seen in the first place.   

Best product, better packaging

If your product is leading its category - great! But you need to make sure your packaging reflects that position. If you’re high up the food chain, your competitors are likely to imitate your branding and the look or functionality of your packaging. It’s important to keep evolving to stay ahead - you don’t want to end up looking like one of the crowd.

Think about Coke, which has been the leading soft drink brand for decades now. Packaging isn’t the reason coke is so popular, but it helps. And their sleek, continually evolving bottle designs have helped them stay ahead of the pack.

Don’t forget functionality

Products are meant to be used. So attracting customers on the shelf isn’t quite enough - your packaging also needs to be easy to use. If your packaging makes your product hard to use or awkward to store, people will think twice about buying from you a second time.

Practical, functional packaging should be designed with use in mind. It should protect the product while it’s instore (no leaking bottles or easily ripped packets) and it should do its job when customers get it home. Great, functional packaging features - like comfortable handles on a bottle, or resealable packaging on food products - can give people a positive impression of your brand, and make them choose it next time around.

Packaging that talks

These days, packaging materials are almost as important as function, particularly if your brand is appealing to higher end consumers. If part of your brand identity is tied up in being eco-friendly or natural, your packaging needs to reflect that.

Choosing sustainable materials, fewer layers of packaging, or recyclable or compostable materials helps your packaging match your brand - and helps it appeal to the growing market of environmentally conscious customers.

Getting down to the detail

Communication on your packaging isn’t just about making your brand recognisable - it’s also about giving people the details they need to understand your product. Beautifully designed imagery is great - but it shouldn’t obscure the important stuff.

It’s best to choose clear, uncluttered labelling without any extraneous text or imagery. Your logo should be clear and accessible, so it draws the eye.

When it comes to brand identity, your choice of font, lettering and tone of any copy is also key. Generally, uppercase letters convey boldness and strength, while lower case lettering can seem friendlier and more approachable.

If your packaging includes copy - like product descriptions or instructions - that should also match your brand. Fun, casual products like potato chips or chocolate can get away with some humour and irreverence, while higher end products might need a more serious tone.

The small stuff

They may not be exciting, but details like expiry dates, ingredients and allergens, directions and quantities are important to consumers. If you communicate these details clearly on your packaging, potential buyers will feel informed - if they can’t find important details, they’re more likely to feel frustrated with your brand.

Details on packaging should be easy to read and find - don’t hide them away on the bottom of the box or under the lid. If customer’s can’t find the information they need quickly, they might just leave your product on the shelf.

Some things aren’t just a good idea - they’re requirements. Check the NZ Food standards website to find out what you have to include on your packaging.

Get your brand out there

Communication, clarity, functionality, fonts - there’s a lot to consider when it comes to packaging design. But it’s worth doing well. Great packaging can mean the difference between your product being bought, and being left to sit on the shelf. Better yet, great packaging doesn’t just work once - it can make customers choose your product over and over again. And surely that’s what every business is after. 

If you’re itching to get your products on the shelf, get in touch for a chat about our custom printed packaging options. 

   
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